California Bans Smoking Near Youth Events

California Governor Jerry Brown banned smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes within 250 feet of any Little League baseball game or other youth sports event on September 23 according to The Los Angeles Times.

The bill was introduced by Senator  Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician, after getting a request from an eighth-grade class in Elk Grove. Pan said tobacco products have no place near children. It is part of several anti-smoking bills that California has enacted.

“Youth sports is about developing good and healthy habits and smoking is the exact opposite of that,” Pan said.

Pan introduced the measure, SB 977, at the request of the eighth grade class at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School in Elk Grove.

Pan said that children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of asthma, lung infection and ear disease, among other health conditions.

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Indianapolis Lands 2017 World Junior Swimming Championships

From USA Swimming

The top 18-and-under swimmers in the world will come to Indianapolis for the 2017 FINA World Junior Swimming Championships, hosted by USA Swimming and United States Aquatic Sports.

The event will be held at the iconic Indiana University Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI in late August. Final dates are to be confirmed.

This will be the sixth edition of the prestigious competition that was first held in 2006 in Rio de Janeiro and hosted in 2015 in Singapore. Nearly 1,000 athletes from nearly 100 countries are expected to compete in the six-day meet that will feature an early look at young athletes who will vie for positions on their respective nations’ Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games rosters.

“We’re very excited to welcome FINA and the next generation of world champions to the United States for such a significant international competition. This is a showcase event for the future of swimming and an important step in the lives of younger athletes,” said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director. “Competing at what we consider to be America’s most historic swimming venue will make this an opportunity of a lifetime for these young men and women. We know that the athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and spectators will enjoy a tremendous experience.”

Of the 45 pool swimmers for the United States at the Olympic Games in Rio, 35 were once members of USA Swimming’s National Junior Team. Eight members of the 2016-17 USA Swimming National Team were on the National Junior Team in 2015-16.

The FINA World Junior Swimming Championships is open to female athletes aged 14-17 and male competitors aged 15-18.

“FINA has very fond memories from Indianapolis, as we held there the 2004 edition of a very successful FINA World Swimming Championships (25m). I am sure that the 2017 FINA World Junior Swimming Championships will also be superbly organised in this exciting city,” considered FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione. “Our young swimmers will take once more this opportunity, staged in a country with a great swimming tradition, to gain international experience and prepare their successful entry in the elite world. Many champions shining at the recent 2016 Olympic Games in Rio started their brilliant path in past editions of our FINA World Junior Swimming Championships.”

The historic Indiana University Natatorium has been host to some of the biggest swimming competitions contested, including U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Phillips 66 National Championships, Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool, Arena Pro Swim Series, NCAA Championships and the annual Indiana State High School Association Championships.

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Valeri Liukin Named USA Gymnastics Women’s Team Coordinator

From USA Gymnastics

INDIANAPOLIS – Two-time Olympic champion Valeri Liukin of Parker, TX has been named the U.S. Women’s National Team Coordinator, USA Gymnastics announced on September 16.

Liukin, who has served as the elite developmental coordinator since 2013, is perhaps best-known as the personal coach for Nastia Liukin, who won the 2008 Olympic all-around title and has five Olympic and nine World career medals. Liukin, who will remain based in Texas, will report to Rhonda Faehn, senior vice president of women’s program for USA Gymnastics.

“Valeri has excelled as a personal coach, and he has demonstrated his ability to lead and guide other coaches through his efforts as the elite developmental coordinator,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “He will provide a smooth transition from the program that has been created, and Valeri is recognized as a capable and talented coach.”

Faehn said, “Valeri already has been working with future national team members for 2020 and 2024 as the elite developmental coordinator. He is known for his coaching techniques and his willingness to share that knowledge with upcoming coaches. As a personal coach and developmental coordinator, Valeri has been involved in the semi-centralized system that has achieved the USA’s greatest international results and already has a strong working relationship with the country’s top coaches on the senior, junior and developmental levels. Valeri and I share a vision for the continued success of USA Gymnastics.”

“I am very honored to accept the position of national team coordinator,” said Liukin. “I’m ready to put all of my knowledge and passion into leading the women’s national team to continued success.”

As the U.S. Women’s National Team coordinator, Liukin will develop the strategic plan and training program for all members of the U.S. Women’s National Team, including conducting national team training camps; attending national and international competitions as needed; overseeing international competition assignments for athletes, coaches and judges; coordinating scheduling and activities for the developmental program and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs); and working with the national coaching staff. He is just the third person to serve as the U.S. women’s national team coordinator, following Martha Karolyi (2001-16) and Bela Karolyi (1999-2000).

Most recently, Liukin directed the women’s athlete developmental program as the elite developmental coordinator.

Liukin is a co-founder and owner of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA), which has produced more than 30 national team members and 35 World and Olympic medals, including Olympic all-around champions Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008 and 2016 Olympic team gold and uneven bars silver medalist Madison Kocian.

He was the personal coach for Nastia Liukin, who won the 2008 Olympic all-around title and has five Olympic and nine World medals to her credit; Rebecca Bross, who has six World medals; Ivana Hong, 2009 World balance beam bronze medalist; and Katelyn Ohashi, 2013 AT&T American Cup champion and 2011 U.S. junior all-around gold medalist. His coaching accomplishments and accolades include: U.S. National Team coach, 1998-2011; International Coach of the Year, 2002, 2004; International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, 2005; USA Gymnastics Coach of the Year, 2006; U.S. Team head coach, 2007 Pan American Games; 2008 U.S. Olympic Team coach; 2009 International Gymnastics Coach of the Year; and USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame (2016).

As an athlete, Liukin was a member of the Soviet National Team from 1985-92. During his career, he won two gold and two silver medals at the 1988 Olympic Games; five gold medals at the 1990 Goodwill Games; two gold medals and one silver at the 1987-91 World Championships; and four gold, one silver and one bronze at the European Championships. He was the first gymnast to perform a triple back flip on floor and has a horizontal bar skill named after him.

Liukin earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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NCAA Moves Seven Championships From North Carolina

From NCAA.com

Based on the NCAA’s commitment to fairness and inclusion, the Association will relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year. The NCAA Board of Governors made this decision because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.

In its decision Monday, the Board of Governors emphasized that NCAA championships and events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans. Current North Carolina state laws make it challenging to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on that commitment if NCAA events remained in the state, the board said.

“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.”

The board stressed that the dynamic in North Carolina is different from that of other states because of at least four specific factors:

  • North Carolina laws invalidate any local law that treats sexual orientation as a protected class or has a purpose to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.
  • North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one’s birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.
  • North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.
  • Five states plus numerous cities prohibit travel to North Carolina for public employees and representatives of public institutions, which could include student-athletes and campus athletics staff. These states are New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont and Connecticut.

“As representatives of all three divisions, the Board of Governors must advance college sports through policies that resolve core issues affecting student-athletes and administrators,” said G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Board of Governors chair and Georgia Institute of Technology president. “This decision is consistent with the NCAA’s long-standing core values of inclusion, student-athlete well-being and creating a culture of fairness.”

These seven championship events will be relocated from North Carolina for 2016-17:

  • 2016 Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, College Cup (Cary), Dec. 2 and 4.
  • 2016 Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships (Greensboro), Dec. 2 and 3.
  • 2017 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, first/second rounds (Greensboro), March 17 and 19.
  • 2017 Division I Women’s Golf Championships, regional (Greenville), May 8-10.
  • 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships (Cary), May 22-27.
  • 2017 Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship (Cary), May 26 and 28.
  • 2017 Division II Baseball Championship (Cary), May 27-June 3.

Emmert said the NCAA will determine the new locations for these championships soon.

“The NCAA Constitution clearly states our values of inclusion and gender equity, along with the membership’s expectation that we as the Board of Governors protect those values for all,” said Susquehanna University President Jay Lemons, vice chair of the Board of Governors and chair of the ad hoc committee on diversity and inclusion. “Our membership comprises many different types of schools – public, private, secular, faith-based – and we believe this action appropriately reflects the collective will of that diverse group.”

Historically, the Association has taken steps to ensure its championship environment is consistent with its values. The NCAA bans championships in states where governments display the Confederate battle flag or authorize sports wagering and at schools that use hostile and abusive Native American imagery.

The only championship events that can be hosted in North Carolina this academic year are those that are decided when student-athletes earn the opportunity to play a championship on their own campus. The Board of Governors said this decision to allow these championships – called nonpredetermined sites – to be played in North Carolina is consistent with the NCAA’s commitment to student-athletes.

Based on an April directive from the Board of Governors, which represents all three divisions, cities interested in hosting future NCAA championships completed a questionnaire this summer that required sites to provide information about any local anti-discrimination laws; provisions for refusal of services; and other facility-specific information.

A group of representatives from NCAA schools will continue to evaluate these responses to determine which locations can host future championships. These decisions, typically announced in early December, will be delayed until next year, Emmert said.

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Kemper Arena Gains Historical Status

Kansas City’s Kemper Arena has gained historic preservation status from the National Park Service according to KansasCity.com, which will clear the way for its redevelopment as an amateur sports complex.

Kansas City Councilman Scott Taylor said in a new release “that the historic designation has been secured for Kemper Arena. … The historic designation allows the developer to secure historic tax credits which are essential to financing the renovation into a youth sports facility.”

The release said Kemper, set to be renamed Mosaic under a sponsorship agreement with the chain of health clinics, has been granted status on the National Register of Historic Places because of its significance in local Kansas City cultural history.

Kemper Arena was the site of the 1976 Republican National Convention and former home to big league and minor league sporting events for historic tax credits baked into redevelopment plans.

Most buildings on the national registry are at least a half century old. Kemper was built just 42 years ago. Its potentially historic architectural significance was compromised by changes made in the 1990s.

Read the story here

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Savanna lands 2017 YMCA Gymnastics Nationals

SAVANNAH, GA — The YMCA of Coastal Georgia has been selected by the YMCA of the USA to host the 2017 YMCA Gymnastics National Championship and Festival.

The three-day competition will be held at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, June 29 through July 2, 2017. An Olympic-style opening ceremony will be held in Forsyth Park, featuring dinner, entertainment, and activities to be enjoyed by the gymnasts and their families.

“Well it’s a very exciting moment for them, because even in your younger levels they get to participate in an event that is very similar to an Olympic style event,” YMCA Executive Carol Tanrath told WTVM TV. “They have a grand march in like an Olympic style, with the states coming in and thousands of gymnasts that come in. And we’ll have over 6,000 people that come to the city to watch this event.”

They expect about 2,000 gymnasts from around the country to travel to Savannah for the annual competition. Participant qualify by receiving a high enough all-around score at a USA Gymnastics sanctioned meet.

This is the fifth time the YMCA of Coastal Georgia has been chosen to host the competition, and they say next year’s event will be even more exciting since it will be the first time Level 8 teams will compete. It will also mark the first time the Association will have two teams competing. The Liberty County/Armed Services YMCA Gymnastics Team will compete alongside the Islands Family YMCA Gymnastics Team, representing the city and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

YMCA of Coastal Georgia thanks the city of Savannah, YMCA of the USA, Visit Savannah, and the Greater Savannah Sports Council for their continued support with the National Championships.

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2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Awarded To San Jose

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — San Jose’s SAP Center was selected as host for the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which will be held Dec. 29, 2017 to Jan. 7, 2018.

The 2018 U.S. Championships will serve as the final qualifying event prior to selecting and announcing the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team that will represent Team USA at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Competition and practice will be held at SAP Center at San Jose and Sharks Ice at San Jose.

“U.S. Figure Skating is excited to return to San Jose for the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships,” U.S. Figure Skating President Sam Auxier said. “The Bay Area is steeped in figure skating tradition with some of the sport’s legends calling the area home. I’m confident that with their support and that of the community, the excitement of the 2018 U.S. Championships will create a dynamic environment, especially for those competing to earn a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.”

Held since 1914, the annual event is the nation’s most prestigious figure skating event, with past champions including Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Brian Boitano and Scott Hamilton.

“This is a wonderful day for the City of San Jose. We are very excited to be selected as host for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, one of the country’s most high-profile sporting events,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Our region has a strong history of producing some of America’s top skaters and a legacy of competitive excellence. I am personally honored and excited to share San Jose with the nation in hosting this prestigious event.”

The U.S. Championships annually attract more than 1,500 athletes, coaches and officials, as well as families, friends and figure skating fans from around the world to the host community. The 2012 U.S. Championships generated more than $23 million in economic impact.

U.S. Figure Skating will work with the San Jose Sports Authority, SAP Center, Sharks Ice at San Jose and local figure skating clubs to plan the event with support from the City of San Jose and its Office of Economic Development, San Jose Hotels, Inc. and Team San Jose.

“What an honor to be selected to host the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the Olympic year,” said Patricia Ernstrom, executive director of the San Jose Sports Authority. “With the continued support of our key community partners, including the City and its Office of Economic Development, San Jose Hotels Inc., and Team San Jose, San Jose has proven itself as a premiere destination for successful world-class sporting events.”

Champions will be crowned in 20 events in ladies, men’s, pairs and ice dance at the championship, junior, novice, intermediate and juvenile levels of the U.S. Figure Skating competitive structure. Championship-level competition will be Jan. 4-7, while juvenile-junior athletes will compete Dec. 30-Jan. 4.

The U.S. Championships return to California for the 12th time and to San Jose for the third (1996, 2012). Northern California is and was home to several figure skating greats including Olympic champions Boitano, Yamaguchi and Peggy Fleming, 1986 World champion Debi Thomas and 1996 U.S. champ Rudy Galindo, who won the U.S. title in his hometown the first time San Jose hosted this event. 2014 Olympian and three-time U.S. medalist Polina Edmunds lives and trains in San Jose and will begin classes at Santa Clara University next month.

Boitano, Fleming, Galindo and Yamaguchi will serve as honorary co-chairs for the 2018 U.S. Championships.

The 2018 U.S. Championships will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed live online on icenetwork. Recent U.S. Championships were held in Boston (2014), Greensboro, North Carolina (2015) and Saint Paul, Minnesota (2016). The 2017 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships are set for Jan. 15-22, 2017, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tickets to the 2018 U.S. Championships will go on sale later this fall. For more information and to sign up for ticket alerts visit http://www.skatesanjose2018.com.

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