USA Cycling hosts first National Officials' Summit in 24 years


“Officials are a large part of USA Cycling,” 2010 Official of the Year Bonnie Walker explained. “When we're at events, we represent and are the face of USA Cycling. Providing the opportunity for everyone to come together in a learning environment shows the commitment that USA Cycling has towards the continued success and the value of the official.”

It is because officials are a significant part of USA Cycling that 2011 has been dubbed “The Year of the Official” by USA Cycling and as such, Sunday, March 13 wrapped the first National Officials’ Summit in 24 years. The Summit, held at USA Cycling’s headquarters as well as the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, allowed officials, presenters and special guests the opportunity for a weekend of receptions, presentations and conversations about the sport going forward as well as providing a chance for officials to socialize in a more relaxed environment than at an event.

USA Cycling’s Technical Director Shawn Farrell, who organized the weekend-long event, personally capitalized on the benefits of the summit 24 years ago and felt the need to bring it back in 2011.

120 officials gathered in Colorado Springs for a weekend of learning. (Photo by Casey Gibson)
120 officials gathered in Colorado Springs for a weekend of learning. (Photo by Casey Gibson)
“This was the first summit of its magnitude and importance in 24 years,” Farrell said. “I spoke at the last one as a fledgling official who was scared to death. It was a treat to come back 24 years later, share all I’ve learned with a new and aspiring group and see a few of the same faces that helped launch my career so long ago.”

During the summit attendees, spanning all levels of expertise, were treated to sessions detailing hot topics for officials such as: USA Cycling’s overall business and sports plan and the officials’ role in it, the cycling official as a professional and the use of new technology in bike race scoring.

Presenters spanned the gamut of cycling expertise, including a presentation from the Chief Executive Officer Steve Johnson on the state of the sport and the officials’ role.

Farrell said the event was very well received by all parties, “It was a smashing success from every perspective. Had I had 20 participants, I would have felt it was worth doing. Had I had 50, I would have felt it was a huge success. We had 120.”

USA Cycling Technical Director Shawn Farrell organized the weekend summit.
USA Cycling Technical Director Shawn Farrell organized the weekend summit.
Even the reigning Official of the Year Bonnie Walker agreed the Summit was beneficial to her growth as a cycling official.

“Bringing everyone together for a weekend was extremely valuable,” Walker said. “Not only was it great to catch up with old friends, but continuing to develop ourselves plays an important role in the service we provide. While some of the things discussed should be common sense, presenting it for all to hear was an important step as we move towards our success.”

Also among the 120 participants was Chuck Hodge, who has been an official for USA Cycling for 15 years. Hodge offered a presentation near the conclusion of the Summit on effective working relationships with organizers and said one of the more valuable parts of the weekend was simply having the opportunity to interact with people from across the sport.

“I spoke with several new officials,” Hodge said. “A lot of the conversations were about experiences, both good and bad! Sharing what has worked and hasn't worked means that less experienced officials may be able to repeat other's successes without making the same mistakes.”

Category B official Pamala Thullen reaped the benefits of exploring the experience and savvy of higher level officials to climb the ranks.

“I am currently a Cat B official and I would really like to move up to the National level,” Thullen said. “The summit gave me an opportunity to talk to USA Cycling and other officials about this and how to make it happen.  It also gave me an opportunity to see what is going on at USA Cycling and the changes that are going to be happening to the organization in the coming months.”

Farrell said presentations from Mike Tamayo of the UnitedHealthcare UCI Pro Continental team on the relationship between the team manager and officials, as well as a Hodge’s seminar received significant compliments in a survey of attendees.

Many of the attendees are a part of the newly formed Regional Technical Commissions, launched last year. The Regional Technical Commissions aim to bridge the gap between local and national-level officials, providing continuing education and mentorship on a more local level.

Thullen said she joined two committees of the Mountain Region Technical Commission and is excited for how it may advance her officiating experience.

As the 2011 season gears up USA Cycling would like to recognize and thank all officials who continue to be an essential component in the success and growth of the sport of cycling.

Photos: Casey B. Gibson

This Article Updated February 12, 2013 @ 11:36 AM For more information contact: