For the second consecutive year, UC Davis has been chosen to host the prestigious West Coast AAU Junior Olympic Games, the Amateur Athletic Union announced today.
The event, slated for June 23-July 1, 2007, is expected to attract 2,500 young athletes from across the nation to compete at facilities and sports fields on the UC Davis campus and throughout the city of Davis. The athletes, mostly 8 to 14 years old, will compete in six sports throughout the 10-day period: baseball, boys and girls basketball, diving, jump rope and wrestling.
In addition to daily sports competitions, several special events are being planned for athletes, their coaches and their families. The city of Davis, the Davis Downtown Business Association and other community organizations will coordinate activities such as free outdoor concerts, a March of Athletes in Central Park, and an Athlete Village, where attendees will be able to play games, enjoy music and swim after a busy day of competition.
UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef welcomed the opportunity to once again host the West Coast AAU Junior Olympic Games. With top-notch sports facilities and a supportive local community, UC Davis meets the needs of student-athletes and their families very nicely, Vanderhoef said. Those who visit for the games will enjoy all that our university and our region have to offer, and we'll very much enjoy having them on campus.
The local community is also on board for the planning of and support for the games.
The city of Davis is thrilled that the West Coast AAU Junior Olympics will be returning to Davis and the UC Davis campus this summer, said Davis Mayor Sue Greenwald. The response from last year's inaugural event in town was encouraging, and we are hopeful that this event can grow to rival similar AAU events in other parts of the country.
Davis has developed a successful niche for sporting activities, and youth-based sports in particular are a good fit for our community, Greenwald added. I look forward to seeing all of the athletes, their parents and coaches enjoying all that our town has to offer this June. As mayor, I am proud that the city is able to help host these games.
In 2006 -- the event's inaugural year -- more than 1,000 participants traveled to Davis from nine states including Alaska, Indiana and Florida. Athletes could be seen strolling around town sporting AAU shirts and their participation medals. Local support was evident in the windows of stores and businesses, and athletes received goody bags filled with products from sponsors.
While next summer will mark only the second year for the West Coast games, the national AAU Junior Olympic Games has a longstanding tradition of success. The 41st annual AAU Junior Olympic Games will host an estimated 20,000 athletes in Knoxville, Tenn., later this year. Founded in 1888, the AAU is one of the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit, volunteer sports organizations.
The Amateur Athletic Union is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs. During the early years, it served as a leader in international sport, representing the U.S. in the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games.
Since 1978, the AAU has focused its efforts on providing sports programs for all ages at the grassroots level. The philosophy of Sports for All, Forever is shared by nearly 550,000 participants. The AAU is divided into 56 districts, which each sanction thousands of national championships and local events for 34 individual and team sports.
The AAU boasts a long list of well-known alumni. They include Shaquille O'Neal (basketball), Greg Louganis (diving), Dan Gable (wrestling), Lisa Leslie (basketball), Carl Lewis (track and field) and Keri Strug (gymnastics).
For more information on the West Coast AAU Junior Olympic Games go to http://www.wcaaujrogames.org. Participants, sponsors and volunteers are being sought, and all are encouraged to contact the Web site.