Swimming & Diving

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An Interview with Jim Wheaton, Director of National Events,YMCA

28 Feb, 2011

By: Sports Destination Management Team

1. Title/Organization
Director of National Events, YMCA of the USA, the nationalresource office for the nation’s 2,687 YMCAs.

2. Years in industry
35

3. Years in current position
15+

4. What is the mission of your organization?
The Y’s cause is strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors in 10,000 communities to make sure everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

5. Nationally, how many participants do you have? How many events are held each year?
The YMCA of the USA hosts five national championship meets in competitive swimming andgymnastics.

These events serve more than 5,000 YMCA athletes attending with their local YMCA teams for the national title in their sport.

6. In what regions/locations are they held?
YMCA events are held nationwide. We alternate geographic regions for our national events. Fort Lauderdale; College Park, Maryland; Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and San Diego are all recent locations.

7. As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
YMCA of the USA is committed to providing participants, and their guests with a premier event experience.When selecting a location we consider three factors: an appealing destination with close proximity to cultural attractions; size and space to accommodate meetings, general sessions, and special events; and presence of a local YMCA. YMCA of the USA works closely with local YMCAs to make sure that our events are a success.

8. From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Being ready for the unexpected.

9. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Working with an organization ofpassionate individuals who are all committed to the Y’s cause of strengthening communities is tremendously rewarding. Every day, I work with engaged members, program participants, staff and volunteers who are committed and dedicated to the mission, cause and values of the Y and who generously support it with their time and resources.

10. What is your biggest challenge in organizing your organization's events?
Managing the whole is one of our biggest challenges. Given the various aspects to a YMCA event—contracting, managing the venue, and managing volunteers and staff team—ensuring that every detail is seen to can be challenging, all while ensuring thatathletes and their guests have a great sports event experience.

11. Please describe how you feel your knowledge, skills and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
My robust YMCA experience has been essential to my success as the Director of National Events. I have spent nearly 40 years with the YMCA movement-as a local CEO, managing local branches, multiple programs, and staff. Moving to the YMCA’s national office has provided me the opportunity to take what I’ve learned with local associations and apply it on a national level.

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