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Stay and Play Announcement

07/29/2009, 11:00am CDT
By No Author


A Letter from the USFA Executive Director


As I took over the role as executive director of the USFA, I made a private commitment to myself as well as a public commitment to the Board of Directors that I would lead us through necessary organizational changes that would help U.S. fencing grow and thrive.  An important component of this commitment includes guiding it to become a more responsive and adaptive organization that effectively listens to, serves, and acts on behalf of the interests of our membership. In keeping with this pledge, I strive for truly open communication where conditions can change, difficult conversations can occur, and complex situations can challenge clear decision-making. Consequently, I intend to focus on the goal of continually enabling organizational growth, visibility, and trust.


In recent months, the USFA has been planning a "soft" launch of a tournament-housing program that would effectively reduce costs for members while capitalizing on the impact we have on the cities where we hold our national events. Since the announcement of the "Stay-and-Play" program earlier this month, there has been a significant response from a variety of stakeholders, members, and others throughout the organization. I want you to know that I have carefully reviewed these responses, listened to feedback, and had numerous personal conversations with many of you.


At the same time, the National Office has worked with volunteer leadership and a variety of members to develop a set of criteria that would serve as a prerequisite to any USFA commitment.  In turn, we have expressed those expectations to, and placed demands on, our current housing provider (THS) regarding changes that we deemed necessary to effectively improve and provide the level of customer service that we required of their services (including their existing ones), and to give us the confidence that they would be capable of implementing this new program. 


After a thoughtful and thorough review of the these factors, including member feedback and the response we have received from THS, at this point I am not confident we are prepared to launch the Stay-and-Play program, nor that THS is the optimal service provider for the program that we require to best serve our organization.


Therefore, I decided to put the Stay-and Play program on hold until we can investigate other housing options and service providers that would better benefit the USFA constituency.  While I am confident that the Stay-and-Play program has significant merits, unless it can be delivered in such a way that it comprehensively meets the needs of U.S. fencers and their families, coaches, and clubs, I will not consider implementing it. Additionally, while we are currently contracted with THS for existing, ongoing housing services, we will continue to demand and require an overall improvement in their customer service practices.


I am grateful for all of you who invested the time, thought, and energy to consider and respond to the proposed plan.  The Executive Committee will discuss the budgetary implications of this decision over the next couple of weeks, and I will continue to keep you informed as we pursue the best options possible to enhance and develop American fencing.


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