There is something exhilarating about standing at the finish line of the 100 meter dash while thousands of athletes compete for their best time! Seeing the smiles on the athlete’s faces as they give their best performance makes the year of planning for the 2015 AAU Junior Olympic Games worth all the work.
Planning is well underway at this point for the AAU Junior Olympic Games to make sure that the 15,000 athletes, ages 7 to 17, feel like champions while they are visiting Hampton Roads, Virginia from July 29to August 8. Hosted by the Hampton Roads Sports Commission (HRSC), an affiliate of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, this is the fifth time that Hampton Roads will host the Games, serving in a five-year rotation with Detroit, Des Moines, Iowa, Houston and Greensboro, N.C.
Track and Field athletes will be pleased with the venue for this summer’s AAU Junior Olympic Games. Athletes and their families will find Norfolk State University to be a beautiful backdrop. The stadium is well maintained with many concession stand areas, restrooms and shaded spaces. For an outdoor track meet, these items are vital to ensure the event’s success. We want folks to stay hydrated, comfortable and have ample space to cool down in shaded areas.
Comfort at the track is one of many logistics important for our athletes. Eating nutritious and filling food items when athletes are competing is critical. There will be healthy food options available for purchase at NSU, including smoothies, frozen treats, fruit and more. The HRSC has partnered with Subway to provide coupons to all of the athletes and their families. We also know that families like to prepare foods and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables during their visit, so we created a partnership with Kroger as our grocery store sponsor. Kroger will be randomly giving out gift cards to coaches. Another sponsor, GEICO, will be on hand, giving away prizes and information useful to parents during their visit.
With 35,000 visitors staying in five of our sponsoring cities (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton and Newport News), it is easy to see that transportation will be key to getting to sporting events on time. In addition to airport transportation, App-A-Cab will provide transportation services to get folks in and around Hampton Roads in a safe and comfortable environment.
Hampton Roads is a wonderful sports-cation in the summer, especially for those who like the sun! Athletes and families will have plenty of convenient options for purchasing sun protection, hats, and other supplies in case something is left at home. Our exceptional teams from Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters (CHKD) and Sentara Healthcare will be on site at the events to provide expert care for our athletes and spectators.
It may be the first time for many of the athletes and their families to visit Hampton Roads, but they have probably heard about our rich history and vacation venues. Every athlete and coach will receive a 2015 AAU Junior Olympics Fun Pass that provides special discounts. From the Virginia Zoo and Nauticus (The National Maritime Museum) located in Norfolk or Tula Adventure Sports and the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach to the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News or Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, families will have many options. Whether our visitors are interested in sports, animals or history – we’ve got them covered to have fun and explore Hampton Roads!
Of course, we know families are thoroughly engaged in spending time as spectators for the AAU Junior Olympic Games. According to “Coach O,” Charles Oliver, the AAU National Chair for Athletics, spectators and athletes may even see some Olympians who are now on the AAU Junior Olympic Games staff such as Darnell Hall, Gary Morgan, Laura Agront-Hobbs, or Lamont Smith, 4x400 meter Olympic gold medalist.
According to Coach O, the sprint races, 100 meters and 200 meters draw the largest crowds, as America loves speed.
“My favorite races to watch are the sprint races,” said Coach O. “I like these races because of the exciting component of speed as well as the event management side of the event. AAU has perfected the ability to manage thousands of athletes and to reduce any lag time. Once an athlete enters the clerking tent, they move effortless from station to station.”
One of the most exciting aspects of the AAU Junior Olympic Games, both from a spectators’ standpoint and the athletes is the 2015 Celebration of Athletes on August 3rd. Attendees will enjoy drum lines, dance teams, mascot appearances, sport demonstrations, and the finals of the 100 meter dash! Three local athletes will receive scholarships. It will be a two-hour spectacular presentation showcasing Hampton Roads and the AAU Junior Olympic Games. Of course, we will have a torch run with Olympians helping us light the way.
The HRSC and participating cities are well aware and appreciative for the return on investment, estimated at $50 million, which the 2015 AAU Junior Olympic Games will bring to our area. Tim Peters, Director of the Norfolk Hospitality Association, probably explains this best:
“On behalf of the entire membership of the Norfolk Hospitality Association we are excited to be the “Host City” of the upcoming Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympics …Our guests will leave with memories of an experience that will want them to keep coming back to our treasure by the Sea, the Mermaid City. In all competitive events there are always winners and losers, but for Norfolk and the AAU, we are both winners. The financial impact this event will have in Norfolk and our surrounding Sister Cities will be in the multi millions of dollars. And, the AAU wins with the impressed fan base attending this event in Norfolk that will certainly let athletes and their families know how pleased they were with the “Hospitality” they found. The Norfolk Hospitality community (which includes hotels, restaurants, venues and attractions) appreciates the generosity of the many sponsors who help support the Junior Olympic Games and their efforts to keep them returning to Hampton Roads for many years to come.”
According to HRSC’s Event Manager, Mollie Robertson, sponsors are invaluable as well as over 2,000 volunteers from the community who will support the Games. “The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” could not be truer as we plan for this event,” said Robertson. “Our organization, the five participating cities (Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach), AAU and countless others have put in a lot of hard work and will continue to do so through the games. In the end, we want to make this one of the most memorable experiences that these top-notch athletes will have in their lifetime! “
If you are an athlete or parent attending the 2015 AAU Junior Olympic Games, I hope to meet you and please let our staff know if there is anything that we can do to make your time with us positive and meaningful. We are looking forward to supporting our track and field athletes, some of the nation’s best youth athletes as they put on the performance of their lives.