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Year in Review

USDAA President Kenneth Tatsch highlights accomplishments during the year and gives a look ahead for 2012


2011 saw a number of changes at USDAA. In the first quarter, we staffed up to clear the bottleneck in the workload. One of our previous web developers came on board to get first-hand experience in our user environment and to aid in development planning, and Andy Hartman joined our team to help broaden our efforts in group and competitor services, enabling us to finish up our long awaited rulebook revision, implementation of the new Veterans program, and completing a review of our judging corps, adding several more Certified Measuring Judges to the list.

As we progressed through the year, we worked to stabilize our web site, and we began prioritizing review of operational policies. One of particular interest to competitors was the manner in which Lifetime Achievement Awards (LAA) were being made.  These awards are now done on a quarterly basis and shipped directly to the award winners, rather than being recognized only annually. Other policies, perhaps less visible, have been revised, and others are now under routine scrutiny, with possible future changes being made.

Early in the year we received feedback from an extensive customer satisfaction survey.  Response rates were high, providing us with a good measure for setting priorities in coming months. We have already implemented a number of ideas from the survey, and we will continue to use the feedback to help set priorities as we move forward in the new year.

Continuing into the third quarter, we streamed three regionals live over the Internet free of charge to viewers and attended two others in order to evaluate the role that regionals play in the year-long tournament season.

In August, the Intro program became official and started to be offered by existing affiliated groups, as well as attracting some new organizations to USDAA. Check out an article on this program at http://www.usdaa.com/article.cfm?newsID=1893.  Also in the third quarter we stepped up preparations for the 2011 Cynosport World Games returning to Kentucky, resolving the prior year issues with the facility over the quality of dirt in the arena and other logistical matters. We were also excited to have secured Max200 as the official equipment and timing solutions sponsor for the event, allowing us to readily bring rubberized contacts and breakaway tires to the event for the first time. We look forward to a long relationships. Our extensive preparations, along with the hard work of our volunteers, sponsor and the incredible sportsmanship and camaraderie shown by our competitors, resulted in the event far surpassing everyone's expectations, including a highly successful multi-camera video stream with commentary throughout each of the tournament finals.  DVDs of the event were available the first week of December, much earlier than ever before, and at lower cost.

Throughout 2011, we sought out venues for future events, looking ahead not only to 2012, but 2013 and beyond.  Shortly before the 2011 Cynosport World Games, we announced the site for the 2012 event, and we continue working with other facilities so that we might schedule much further into the future. With survey results in hand, and the Cynosport event fresh on our minds, the weeks since the event have found us evaluating the overall tournament structure. By introducing 50% more regional championships, and selecting a facility with capacity to expand the number of rings, the quarterfinals will likely play a much lesser role in the 2012 tournament schedule.  This should allow us to shorten the event by a full day, or more. The quarterfinals would be offered on a day unto themselves for those who had not been able to accomplish a bye through the thirteen regional championships recently announced. The emphasis at the event will be on semifinals and finals as we enter the weekend.  Based upon several projection models, we anticipate this new schedule should come to fruition.

This sets the stage for an exciting year in 2012.  January 2012 marks 25 years of USDAA's formal existence and the 2012 tournament season marks the 25th running of the Grand Prix of Dog Agility tournament series. We are working on plans to make the year extra special and look forward to seeing everyone in Colorado in September to celebrate.

Also in January, the Masters Challenge Classes become official. The Masters Challenge Classes were derived from the International Handlers Challenge Classes (IHCS) that were offered by many of our clubs in support of the IFCS World Championship team selections. With the many positive remarks throughout the year, we have set standards for the Masters Challenge Classes to offer our competitors another avenue to display excellence in their handling skills for those who wish to reach beyond the current program. The program is purely optional, and counts towards titles just as do other Masters qualifications. Do note that the time standards as published in the new rule book have been modified, reducing the requirement for Standard Course Time in the Standard class by ¾ of a yard per second, and in the Jumpers Class by ¼ of a yard per second.  As the program gets underway, we will closely monitor all standards to assure the desired direction of this program is on track, making further adjustments as needed. 

In the spring, USDAA will host for the first time in North America the IFCS World Agility Championships May 9-13, in Fort Worth, Texas. Please come and volunteer for this International event, and we will guarantee you the best seat in the house.  In addition, volunteers, as well as others, will be able to run alongside other international participants in a special day set aside for an offering of USDAA Tournament classes on May 10th. 

We have a number of other exciting plans in the works for 2012, for which we will announce as they take shape. On behalf of the entire staff here at USDAA, I want to thank our loyal competitors and groups for all your support, and we look to the future with a renewed spirit of partnership as we work together to bring growth to this great sport.

We wish you, your dogs and your families the happiest of holidays and a Happy New Year!

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