Thank you to USATF Women’s Track and Field Committee, Sue Humphrey and LaTanya Shefield, for selecting me for this honored award. I am beyond disappointed that I could not personally be in Houston for the presentation, but I was there in spirit, and thankfully represented by Julie McKinney, former Women’s Long Distance Running Chair. I appreciate the vote of confidence in Peter Thompson’s nomination.
Here are my thoughts from home, from my heart:
I looked into the history of Joseph Robichaux and to prior recipients of the award to find an impressive line of men and women I am proud to keep in company.
I wondered if my work towards including more women’s events in the Olympic program was the reason I was chosen. If so, this award goes to a small committee, the IRC, (International Runners Committee) and not just me. You have my fellow member Nina Kuscsik with you as testament to our good work. Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The International Runners Committee, for whom I served as president, fought for the women’s 3000, 5000, 10,000-meter events on the track plus the marathon, until women gained equal opportunity in the Olympic Games.
Then, I soon realized it was the unique combination of also working in youth sports that put me in contention. I would have never expected to be given a reward for doing so. This caught me off guard completely.
Youth sports has been the pleasure and joy in my life, which I do not consider work, but the constant source of joy in my daily life — It always has been and continues to today . . . and for many tomorrows to come. I have coached K-12 children since my own child started school over 30 years ago, and I still coach today. I had the good fortune to work for LA84 Foundation, directing all sorts of youth sports programs in running and other sports too. I directed coaching education for LA84 in eight different sports.
Today I coach at running camps, I write curriculum for PE and Health Education courses at Loyola Marymount University to prepare teachers. I coach at World Record track and field camps with Willie Banks and Mike Powell. I coach at the Culver Academies Distance Camp annually for high school kids. I write online course curriculum for the RRCA coaching education program and I participate on their grants committee helping youth clubs. So, you see, there are a lot of folks doing good for youth sports in this world, and I am fortunate to still be actively involved, thanks to organizations like yours creating the opportunities for young people. Once in my young life, one single high school coach gave me a chance, and I am glad to give back. Indeed I am compelled to give back.
Let me remind you — thanks to finely organized women and girls track & field clubs in this country in the 60s and 70s, I had a place to compete when there were no opportunities in school, no interscholastic sports for girls. We were pre-Title IX and before NCAA. If not for one forward thinking woman, my high school PE teacher who started a girls track team, my life would be different. If not for one remarkable coach, Laszlo Tabori, an Olympian and record breaker, who gave me a direction in which to train after I finished school. . . if not for him, my life would not be so enriched. He made all things possible.
Thank you for the recognition, thank you for giving young people an opportunity and making a difference in their lives. It is my pleasure and honor to receive this award.
May good health be with all of us.