To all USASF members:
This letter contains important updates from the Board of Directors on our athlete protection policies as well as plans and activities for competitive club cheer and dance in 2021. Following a challenging year for all of us due to the pandemic, we begin to think about a more normalized environment for youth sports. Our Board has carefully considered the steps we should take as an organization to help our members re-engage safely and successfully in our cherished sport.
Nothing is more important to us than athlete safety and we will not tolerate any behavior that is counter to our commitment. We have taken additional safety measures for our youth athletes, as part of our goal to create the safest environment for athletes in youth sports. The new steps are in addition to the unified athlete safety infrastructurepreviously announced in conjunction with USA Cheer that enables easier, streamlined reporting of complaints for the cheer and dance community through our website (www.usasf.net). We are finalizing plans for a well-respected third party resource in the field of youth protection, TNG Consulting, to provide dedicated response and resolution services to conduct, manage and report investigations into potential violations of our athlete safety rules. With these enhanced practices to promote and ensure safety, the USASF is focused on enabling member club owners and coaches to access educational and training resources they need to help achieve the organization’s safety goals – and to serve the best interests of our athlete members.
To add oversight to these safety practices and further bolster our commitment to athlete protection, the Board established a subcommittee, called the Governance & Compliance Committee, that is tasked with reviewing and analyzing the USASF Safe Sport program’s performance in upholding the USASF mission that includes striving for a safe environment for our athletes. It will report any recommendations to the full Board of Directors. The committee is co-chaired by John Newby and Jim Chadwick and its members are Kathy Penree, Happy Hooper and Jeff Fowlkes. The secretary is Karen Wilson.
We are marking the calendar for our 2021 USASF National Meeting, currently planned as a hybrid in-person and virtual event for learning and engagement. Scheduled for July 24-25, this is a ‘can’t miss’ event where attendees and All Star leaders and visionaries develop meaningful connections and learn actionable tactics to advance, grow and succeed. You definitely want to contribute your voice to these important conversations.
We also have made changes to USASF’s governance. Jim Chadwick, President and Steve Peterson, VP Events & Corporate Alliances, will be working exclusively for the USASF, and have stepped down from their contract roles with Varsity Brands. This change means Varsity employees no longer comprise a majority of voting members on the USASF Board of Directors.
As we plan Worlds for 2021, following last year’s forced cancellation due to the pandemic, we continue to work closely with Walt Disney World® as well as monitor updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). After reviewing the most recent COVID-19 information available and knowing that the Bid Event season is being pushed later, the USASF has requested new dates to allow more bid recipients to join us safely in Orlando. Thus, we’re pleased to announce that The Dance Worlds™ will be held May 6-7, and The Cheerleading Worlds™ will be held May 8-10, 2021 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. The events will be held consecutively rather than concurrently as in past years.
Recognizing the challenges our members are facing to gain the needed prior event participation to compete at Worlds, we have adapted the bid process accordingly. Responding to input from our members, including athletes and coaches, we have created important new ways to earn a bid, including participation in virtual competitions. The new rules for 2021 also follow the Worlds Substitution Rules and allow for cheer and dance athletes to crossover between events, which we know means a lot to many of you. These policies have been implemented for the 2020-21 season only.
Finally, you may have recently read or heard some criticisms of FloSports related to the work of one of its subsidiaries for USA Gymnastics. FloSports is an independent company offering video streaming to many youth sports, including NCAA and AAU events. USASF engaged FloCheer, a different FloSports subsidiary, to provide access to streaming services for Worlds for the many members and fans who cannot attend in person. We reiterate that USASF is committed to safe sport policies and we will continue to implement and enforce our athlete protection policies and procedures for the Cheerleading and Dance Worlds.
As you can see, we are eager to get back to our sport in 2021. We look forward to an excellent and exciting year of resuming competitive events, especially Worlds, throughout the U.S. As always, our focus remains on the success and safety of our athletes and our sport so that the many benefits of competitive club cheer and dance can be enjoyed by all.
Thank you for your continued participation and support.
Board of Directors