As the holidays approach and the semester starts to conclude, it’s always great to look back and reflect on where we are and what we’ve accomplished this year. Last month, we hosted the 24th Annual NIRSA National Soccer Championships in Phoenix, AZ. To say it was another success is an understatement. Out of the 96 teams that competed, Brigham Young University captured its first Men’s Championship in 16 years, the University of California, Santa Barbara went back to back in the Women’s Championship, and the men of the University of Arizona and women of the University of Oregon took first place in the Open Championships.
I would like to thank the awesome staff at the Reach 11 Sport Complex, NIOSA officials, and the numerous NIRSA volunteer staff who helped make the tournament memorable. The tournament saw the passing of the torch from longtime volunteer Sadat Khan to Kristi Levanduski who will act as the new director of operations for the soccer championships. What struck me most about Sadat’s farewell celebration is not the great work he’s done with the tournament, but how he’s left a lasting impact on each individual he’s worked with. What started out as a moment to say a few quick words about his impact turned into nearly everyone sharing experiences and talking about how they were appreciative of even the smallest of his actions that made their volunteer time more enjoyable. People often ask me what makes our events so special. I always answer: “The people.” Without them we would be just like any other event.
Speaking of people, I want to send a huge kudos out to the many who contributed to establishing the NIRSA Services Corporation Sarah Fain Distinguished Service Award, a fitting tribute to our beloved colleague and friend Sarah Fain. When we speak of people who lived and breathed tournaments, Sarah is right there at the top of the list. I know from experience that whenever we were unsure of who won a specific tournament or who served in a certain capacity, she was always the first person to call. There was no job she would not perform or committee she had not served on. She played a huge role in helping to develop the Championship Series into what it is today. I would like to once again challenge us all to nominate someone who embodies Sarah’s spirit and dedication to advancing and impacting the Championship Series.
For those that would like to follow in Sarah’s footsteps and serve the Championship Series, applications are now being accepted for the Championship Series Executive Team—specifically for the role of 2nd Vice Chair. If serving is truly your passion and leadership your calling, this is a great way to do both. If you’d like to be involved with a specific area of the Championship Series, then I highly recommend applying to be on a Championship Series Work Team. We rely on these work teams to help guide and maintain the Series throughout the year; it’s vital these teams consist of members who want to make sure we are moving ahead and striving further. Whether you’re a student or a professional, work teams are great places to start or expand your professional career.
November 28 marked the sixth year for #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving for nonprofits. For those who missed it, it’s never too late to start giving. Giving back is one of the backbones of NIRSA, and I encourage you to help the Association by supporting student official’s development. Through officiating, students build skills like conflict resolution, communication, problem solving, and decision making. Young officials who participate in NIRSA’s training become lifelong sports fans who give back to their communities both on and off the field. So please consider donating today and supporting this wonderful aspect of the Series.
We’ve accomplished so much this past year. I can’t wait to see what great things we do in 2018!