Interview with USJA President Gary Goltz (Part 1 of 2)

When USJA President Gary Goltz paid us a visit, he agreed to an interview for the blog.  He's been really awesome, as I have had a ton of questions for him over the course of several phone calls.  I've been working on transcribing this interview in my weekly 30 minutes of free time, and it is taking a while, so I figured I would go ahead and post what I have (as it has some pretty good stuff to digest), and then I'll post the next part when I wrap it up.  Enjoy!  (Editor's note - there were some revisions added after the initial posting, as Gary wanted to add a bit more detail to some areas.  And you can find part 2 here.)

CM: Let me start with an easy one: What does the USJA do, exactly? What happens to my $45/year? I know about the insurance, but what else?
GG: We are a national accreditation body that provides sanctions as well as insurance for events. The insurance cost is around $20+ and is definitely the largest part of the $45, the remainder of the money goes towards overhead; we have an office, and executive director, a full time staff, equipment, postage, taxes, a website, and a database that we need to maintain, and lots of phones!  So in short, every penny of that $45 goes towards running the USJA.

CM: And here is another one: other than touring the country teaching fantastic clinics, what does a USJA president do? What are your responsibilities/duties/superpowers?
GG:   First and foremost, I’m a member of the board of directors - as such; it's my responsibility to promote the goals and mission of the USJA. Beyond that, a big part of the president's job as I see it is public relations. Having come into the position after being the Chief Operating Officer for 4 years, I had a lot of knowledge of what our operation entails. In addition I'm pretty much the untitled Chief Fundraising Officer, working to bring in new donors and nurturing our existing donors as well. By the way did I mention that when I went from COO to President my salary was doubled!  All kidding aside my approach towards leadership in the USJA is based on this credo -

  • Honorably serving our members with communication founded on reality based information, positive, productive and ethical thinking
  • Following judo’s core principles of maximum efficiency with minimum effort and mutual welfare and benefit with the goal of developing good character
  • Remembering the spirit of our founders; Jim Bregman, the late George Harris, Karl Geis, and others in terms of the high standards they strived for
CM: Can you tell me more about the fundraising? Who are the big donors, and where does this money go?
GG:  We have companies like GTMA, Judo Unlimited, and Black Belt Magazine where the USJA gets some revenue. We have member donors like Andy Connelly our club leader in Texas who gives a donation of $100 every month on his Visa card, Dr. James Lally who is a board member has been our donor of the year for over 5 years, and there are countless others. Every donation helps defray our membership fees.
CM: I'm sure that's a big help to the organization...
GG: If we just went off of the $45, we wouldn't have enough money to run. We haven't had a price increase in years; that's where the donations come into play.

CM: Looking at this post, can you tell me what where you come out on some of the issues raised?
    Technology Resources:
    GG: Our Coaches Portal was the result of a complete make over of our entire database. It is now interactive so our club leaders can look up promotion information and membership expirations online.
    Help for Fledgling Clubs:
    GG: Beyond providing liability insurance for clubs, through our supplier partnerships our clubs can receive discounts on tatamis and gis. Another thing we've done do for our members is instituted background screening not only for coaches but for all black belts. And we’re in the process of developing a marketing manual for USJA clubs. As for your Mat Co-op Exchange idea, you're not the first person to think of that. We could definitely do something along those lines. We just need someone to take the initiative and get it going. We are always looking for volunteers.
    Help to Start Tournaments:
    GG: We offer sanctions for $25 and have a referee as well as a technical officials committee to help support tournaments. Our IT (volunteer) Director, John Moe developed a free Scoreboard Program for running matches. We use this at the Winter Nationals and all my club’s events.  It’s excellent, easy to use, and always up to date.   
    Setting Promotion Standards:
    GG: The USJA promotion system has always been one of our selling points. We're more up-front with what you have to do and more objective. If somebody meets those criteria, it's generally a done deal. Along the same lines, we try to keep our standards current. We're in the process of updating them as we speak. Sid Kelly, the creator Kelly's Capers and head of our promotion board, has revised our senior promotion system. I've had a chance to go through it and it looks a lot like the modern approaches taken by countries where judo is really proliferating. Hal Sharp, who wrote The Sport of Judo and many other books, is doing the same with our junior promotion system and junior manual. Our goal is to have these rolled out by the 1st quarter of 2012. It's been a big undertaking and those guys are doing a great job.
    Term Limits for Any Positions of Influence:
    GG: The USJA board adopted them a few years ago. I was one of the people who raised this as an issue. Now board members can only serve two terms then they have to sit out for 2 terms before they can run again. The terms are four years. This is my first term as president, so I would be eligible to come back and serve again then I'd have to bow out. You know we have a quality team of board members and Katrina Davis is an outstanding Executive Director with 20 years’ experience. They are intelligent and have common sense. While there will always be some disagreements, every one of them is committed to the USJA and making good decisions
    Spreading Knowledge:
    GG: Our online magazine, Growing Judo is one of the greatest support arms to the membership.  Joan Love our Vice President, who is its editor, puts her heart and soul into each issue. I've seen the publications that the USJA has put out for the last 40 years, as well as the ones from other national and even international organizations and can say that "Growing Judo" is among the best judo publications ever. We cover the entire geography of the USJA. There's a section on new clubs, promotions, human interest stories, articles on how to grow your club, etc.  Among the clinics we offer are coach certification, referee certification, kata certification, Kelly’s Capers, and just about anything you want to learn we try to find someone within a stone's throw of our clubs who could come in and teach.
OK, so that's our ballgame for part one. I hope you enjoyed it, and stay tuned for part 2...  It gets even better!



kodokanjudo said...

Gary is a down to earth guy that puts the judo politics aside as much as he can.