In a groundbreaking move for California community college athletics, it was announced in September that the Commission on Athletics had been awarded a United States Olympic Committee Developmental Grant for the introduction of womens badminton as an intercollegiate sport throughout the state in Spring, 1999.
The grant, a one-year award of $40,000 for the 1998-99 school year, is renewable for up to three additional years, meaning the total value of the grant could reach $160,000. This will be based largely upon the COAs ability to continue to meet the goals set forth in the grant proposal. It calls for the development of up to 60 womens intercollegiate varsity badminton teams statewide next academic year, as well as an ongoing public education and promotional campaign to attract student-athletes to the sport. Currently over 7,000 studets play varsity badminton in Californias high schools, but have few opportunities to continue as varsity athletes at the college level.
The grant, authored by former COA associate commissioner Paul Lanning, was submitted on behalf of the COA by USA Badminton, the national governing body for the sport, in conjunction with two co-sponsoring USOC member organizations: the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAPHERD) and the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).
The grant comes in conjunction with a partnership the COA has struck with USA Badminton. "The California community colleges will in large part determine the future of badminton in the United States," said interim U.S. National Team head coach Bill Pickthorn, a former California community college student-athlete, "This is the first widespread adoption of badminton as an intercollegiate varsity sport in the United States, and we see it as a a tremendous grassroots development opportunity for the sport as well as a training ground for potential U.S. National Team members."
Toward those ends, USA Badminton has made an unprecedented commitment in terms of support to the COA in helping to develop the sport. USA Badminton will conduct annual coaches and officials certification sessions free of charge in both Northern and Southern California, as well as periodic clinics and exhibitions for both men and women at community colleges around the state. In addition, USA Badminton officials have agreed to staff and supervise the operation of the regional and state community college badminton championships in Spring, 1999, lending their much-needed expertise to the first-year event. Finally, USA Badminton has committed to providing transportation and lodging for the state finalists in both mens club and womens varsity competition to travel to Colorado Springs for two weeks of training with the U.S. National Team each summer.
"This is a very exciting and absolutely unprecedented commitment from an Olympic sports governing body to support our efforts to develop opportunities for student-athletes in Californias community colleges," said state commissioner Joanne Fortunato. "The COA and its member schools are very fortunate to have the support of USA Badminton, the USOC, NAGWS and AAPHERD in our efforts to develop this emerging sport. We see this as a model for the potential development of other sports in the future."
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