Forty three years ago, my partner and mentor Bob Block who holds over 150 patents that have made all our lives a great deal better, introduced me to a man who had a vision. It was a natural meeting since I was on the President Nixon’s Council of Physical Fitness at the time. George Allen, the late great NFL Coach, was our Chairman.
Bob, wanted me to listen and to see if I could be of help. Dr. Tom Rosandich had a dream. He pointed out that we, the United States, were the only civilized country that did not have an overall educational facility geared to sports and all its aspects. It was his aim to bring one about.
I marveled as I listened to him outline his dream. From the beginning I thought it was a magnificent idea. However, since I was a member of the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and our Board, like many of the preceding Boards, although trying to accomplish what Tom Rosandich had in mind, had met with little, or no success.
I thought if we, the President’s Council, couldn’t get it done, backed by the government, how could he, one man, succeed?
I was wrong!
Today, the USSA is located in Daphne, Alabama on the Eastern Shoreline of Mobile Bay, eleven miles east of Mobile. It is a monument to a vision… his vision. He leaves an educational institute on solid footing that is recognized throughout the world,
Let’s examine what the USSA is all about. The campus architecturally is magnificently designed and the beauty of the Academy buildings is greatly enhanced by the Art that hangs on the walls and the Sculptures that are seen throughout the campus on its grounds. All have been created by the artists who, throughout the years, have been named “Sports Artist of the year” by the Academy.
It all started with an idea. The premise being that there was a niche in the sports firmament that needed to be filled. Many of the people who were filling positions in training, coaching, team management, marketing, player personnel unfortunately, had not been adequately prepared for their tasks.
Sports was beginning to play an important role in our daily lives. Where once, it was practically a man’s bailiwick there was a need to give both genders an opportunity to play an educated and important role. To aid him in achieving what he preached, he put a “TEAM”, a Board comprising of some of the finest available minds in the world of Sports and Education.
At the time, most Colleges and Universities did not have curricula dedicated to sports and the role it was playing in our lives. The USSA became the educational leader. Many Universities subsequently, followed its lead . The USSA direction has always been cutting edge and constantly one step ahead… breaking new ground as it grew… paving the way for others to follow.
Founded as a special- mission institution of sport offering Master’s Degrees in Sports Medicine, Sports Coaching and Sports Management. As the Academy grew, it constantly added and still is adding more disciplines of study. Among the additions are Recreation, Management. Sports Exercise Science and overall Sports Studies… and Doctorate Programs.
Dr. Rosandich has a long and storied career in the profession of sport dating all the way back to the early 1950’s. Along the way, as the President of the Academy for 43 years , and for his individual efforts, he received awards for his contributions from many storied and wide ranging institutions, organizations and nations.
He is in the Helms Track and Field Hall of Fame. The Emir of Bahrain, for example, conferred upon him the “Order of Bahrain – First Class” for his efforts in building that nation’s first international caliber sports programs.
The International Olympic Committee, (IOC ), honored him with their “ Olympic Order” for his work as a member of the IOC’s Commission for Olympic Education and Culture. The USOC recognized him by bestowing its coveted “USOC President’s Award.”
As a Track and Field coach, he coached so many World and Olympic Champions, this Blog would have to be at least three times in length just to come close to naming them and doing justice to what he achieved.
Recognizing his talents as a coach, the U.S. State Department appointed him as a Sports Ambassador and tasked him with using sport as a vehicle for elevating America’s relationship with nations throughout the world. His efforts in this capacity met with untold success. He consulted with 43 nations and brought them into the world of sports competition.
Why I decided to write this column this week is definitively because of today’s world situation and our political climate. To me, Tom Rasandich had been a man on a White Horse wearing a White Hat. He has always been a winner.
In the past when the country has endured multiple problems like today, such a man on his trusty white steed has arrived to help right our ship of state. Dr. Tom, like so many other Americans has shown what can be achieved by using dignity, ethics and education as tools.
Hopefully, his example can be a beacon for all who want to lead … Dr. Tom is one to learn from and to be imitated!