Minutes of annual meeting, New England Walkers Club, Oct. 18, 2009.
Members of the New England Walkers elected a slate of officers at the club’s annual meeting on Oct. 18, 2009, in Groton, MA, and agreed on several measures intended to promote interest in racewalking.
Those elected were: Thomas Knatt, president; Beth Katcher, vice president; Charles Mansbach, recording secretary; Justin Kuo, treasurer; and Brian Savilonis, member at large.
Charlie Duane and Justin Kuo led a discussion of overhauling the club website through use of the WordPress format, and members voted to switch to the format and work on making the website more thorough and up-to-date, with schedules of events, results, and links to other sites.
Bill Harriman added that we can easily list our upcoming events on the Coolrunning website at no expense.
Members debated the appropriateness of allocating money to those who give racewalking clinics and do similar promotional work. Bob Keating suggested that such payments could get out of hand, and Justin told of giving racewalking instruction and being reimbursed not by our club but by the sponsoring organization. Members approved making such allocations, with Tom characterizing the expenditures as only covering gas money and other expenses.
The question of whether our racewalking club should be involved in other types of walking events brought the same range of opinion that we have seen for months in our e-mail discussions. Josef DellaGrotte said that restricting our attention to our own events makes us too insular and that it is vital to reach out to participants in walking divisions of running races. He asked that we consider offering sponsorship to races that could further our cause. Justin said we shouldn’t become sponsors of events that are already being sponsored by someone else.
Josef talked of the contacts he has made with race directors and the prospects of reaching large groups of walkers. There was informal post-meeting agreement that we have to pick our spots carefully and not try to make an impact in every event we hear about.
Josef told of receiving encouraging responses to his efforts to teach proper walking technique, including a well-received article in the Worcester Telegram and requests to appear on a local cable TV outlet. Carol Kuo asked why, for our purposes, we needed to show people how to walk rather than just teach them racewalking. Josef said he will submit a statement on making the connection from walking to racewalking.
Tom raised a question of whether distribution of fliers and business cards would help our cause. Justin cautioned against sending fliers to races where we would not be present because the material would probably be discarded. He said distribution of fliers at events we take part in, such as the Clamdigger, could be worth the effort.
Tom also raised the possibility of doing a promotional video for the club and mentioned that an instructional video he made years ago could be incorporated into something new. Carol and others responded that plenty of material on how to racewalk is readily available on the Internet and that any video we did produce would have to be more focused on introducing our club to outsiders.
Members rejected a motion to raise our $6 annual dues to $20 after Josef said we first need a plan on what to do with our funds. Following the unanimous vote, Tom said we should look into the pros and cons of becoming a nonprofit organization and discuss how to use our treasury.
Maureen Rogers asked if New England Walkers jackets were available. She said that based on the interest she encountered when wearing her Bay State Games jacket, the NEW garb could give us welcome attention.
Beth raised the possibility of asking the Somerville Road Runners to add a walking division to their annual 24-hour race in Wakefield. Such an addition could make the race an accepted Centurion event, in which racewalkers could try to cover 100 miles within the time limit. We would need to certify the course, which goes around a lake, and to furnish judges to enforce the contact rule.
Tom asked, in the interest of attracting young athletes to racewalking, if any members were willing to contact high schools, colleges, and coaches. Despite talk of past efforts yielding little lasting results, Tom, Josef, Brian, and Larry Epstein said they were willing to make such overtures. Talk of reaching out to older populations mainly brought jokes about how old we are already.
Members attending the annual meeting were Tom Knatt, Annie Montgomery, Brian Savilonis, Ann Neuburg, Joanne and Bill Harriman, Hilary and Bob Keating, Carol and Justin Kuo, Priscilla Frappier, Charlie Mansbach, Beth Katcher, Josef DellaGrotte, Larry Epstein, Charlie Duane, Richard Ruquist, Ruth Karacek, Ken Taylor, Maureen Rogers, and Susan Allison. The meeting began at about 1:50 p.m. and broke up into informal conversations at 4:10.