October 2023: World University Games Update

Welcome to the Halloween edition of our monthly 2029 World University Games eNews Update. Fortunately we have nothing too scary to report this month – primarily positive news as we continue to get out of the blocks and build momentum for the planning and development of the 2029 Games.

Baseball and Softball Back in the Olympic Games

Two of the sports for the 2029 World University Games – Baseball and Softball – which are not on the program for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, France, have been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be competed at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028. During the 140th IOC Session in Mumbai, India, which took place earlier this month (October 15-17), the IOC approved the recommendation of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee that 5 sports (including Cricket, Flag Football, Lacrosse, and Squash in addition to Baseball/Softball) be included in the 2028 Summer Olympics. That means that all 18 sports of the 2029 WUG are official Olympic sports.

The National Governing Body for Baseball, USA Baseball, is headquartered and has its National Training Complex (NTC) in Cary. The NTC will be a training location for Baseball in the World University Games. Currently the new headquarters building for USA Baseball is under construction at the NTC with a projected opening date before the end of the year. (More on that in a subsequent newsletter.)

Paul Seiler, long-time CEO of USA Baseball and a member of the Executive Board of the International Governing Body for Baseball/Softball, had this to say “We are thrilled that America’s pastime will be a part of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. The inclusion of baseball and softball will undoubtedly enhance the experience of the Games, as both sports have enjoyed global success in recent years and deserve to be celebrated on the international stage. It is exciting to be able to return to the place that kickstarted baseball being on the Olympic Programme, as well as a location that boasts numerous professional teams and some of the most iconic players in today’s game. USA Baseball takes great pride in showcasing the nation’s best players in international competition, and we can’t wait for the opportunity to do so on home soil.”

Major congratulations to Paul and all the USA Baseball staff and supporters who have worked diligently through the years to make sure Baseball and Softball are back on the Olympic schedule. This is a big win not only for the sports world in general, but certainly for North Carolina and our local community as the positive impacts will be felt long into the future.

(Image courtesy of USA Baseball)

North Carolina Organizing Committee Member Brings Home the Gold

Ashley Twichell, U.S. Olympian in the 10k Open Water Swimming event in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, yesterday won the Gold Medal in that same event in the XIX Pan American Games, currently taking place in Santiago, Chile. Ashley is a Duke graduate where she specialized in distance freestyle events for the Duke University Women’s Swimming & Diving Team.

Ashley is a long-standing world-class distance swimmer. She competed in the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in pool events, capturing a bronze medal in the 800-meter Freestyle. Now here she is 12 years later, at age 34 – after two children (daughter Bailey in 2018 and son Lochlan in 2022) – winning gold!

Ashley is also a new member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Organizing Committee (NCOC), the Local Organizing Committee for the 2029 World University Games. Ashley, who competed for the U.S. World University Games Team in Kazan, Russia, winning gold in the 10k Open Water Swim in 2013, is currently a professional swimming athlete, living and training in Cary, NC – one of our 5 host cities for the 2029 WUG. As an active elite-level athlete, who is also a WUG and Olympic Games alum, Ashley will serve as the Athletes Representative on the NCOC Board.

We are looking forward to Ashley’s leadership in helping us deliver the 2029 FISU World University Games in award-winning fashion.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters.)

News Briefs

U.S. Olympic Swimming Team to Train at Triangle Aquatic Center Prior to Paris Games

While we are on the Twichell family, we want to give a shout-out to Ashley’s husband, Derek Wall who serves as Executive Director of the Triangle Aquatic Center, our Men’s and Women’s Water Polo competition and training venue for the 2029 World University Games. After working for over a year on the leadership of USA Swimming, Derek and his colleagues were able to have the Triangle Aquatic Center (TAC) selected as the U.S. Training Site for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team before the team heads to Paris next summer for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Wall said, “We feel like it’s a great opportunity for us to be supportive of USA Swimming, and to be supportive of these great athletes to try to get them what they need.” The TAC has a lot of bona fides going for it as a USA Swimming Training site considering that Olympians Claire Curzon and Ashley Twichell train there, as well as Gold Medal Winners in Swimming from the Tokyo Paralympics Hannah Aspden and Morgan Stickney.

USOPC CEO Speaks at Duke

Continuing with the Olympic theme, Sarah Hirshland, Chief Executive Officer of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and a Duke graduate, spoke at her alma mater at the end of last month at a global strategy lecture series program. Joining Hirshland on the program were former Duke Men’s Basketball and U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team Head Coach, Mike Krzyzewski, and Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, among others. Hirshland was quoted as saying, “Our country is the leader in sport around the world and the influence we have is palpable everywhere you go.” When asked about sports and politics mixing, Hirshland responded with her belief that sport can transcend and rise above even politics.

Former Raleigh Coach to Serve as Head Coach at Paris Olympics

Todd DeSorbo, Head Coach of the University of Virginia Swimming & Diving Team, has been named Head Coach for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Swimming Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Prior to joining UVA, for six years Todd served as Associate Head Coach of NC State’s Men’s & Women’s Swimming Teams and competed himself on the Raleigh Area Masters Swim Team. Todd started out in collegiate coaching at UNC Wilmington, where he was a graduate and former varsity swim competitor. Todd is most-deserving of his Olympic coaching honors, especially considering he has coached the UVA Women’s Team to the NCAA Division I National Championships title in each of the last three years – 2021, 2022, and 2023; a feat never before accomplished by any Atlantic Coast Conference team.

When Hindsight Finally Catches Up with Foresight

It only took 37 years, but the City of Raleigh finally got with a program that was first proposed for downtown in 1986! You may have heard the news recently about, or perhaps you have seen or used one of the 8-foot tall black interactive kiosks in the center city designed to assist with wayfinding, business locations, upcoming event information, and transit options. Almost four decades ago, local leaders of the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival (which still holds the record as the largest event ever held in North Carolina) approached the City of Raleigh with Festival major sponsor Hewlett Packard, about putting up similar information kiosks in key areas of the city to aid the more than 460,000 Festival attendees in getting around town and taking in the sights. While the City was not ready to embrace the concept at the time, it is wonderful to see here in 2023 that at long last the idea has been validated as a good one and was not lost forever.

May They Rest in Peace

On a much sadder note, two major influencers in our local sports economy in the Triangle area passed away recently: Koka Booth, highly-regarded former Mayor of Cary, and Roger Krupa, long-time director of the Raleigh Convention Center. Roger Krupa caught the sports tourism bug early on when in 1983 he enthusiastically joined the Triangle’s bid for the U.S. Olympic Festival. During the first site visit of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Roger hosted a grand dinner party at the Convention Center, where the entire extravaganza was donated by Convention Center Caterer Ogden Foods – an event that wowed the USOC guests and local dignitaries as well. After a four-year effort, North Carolina ended up winning the bid for the U.S. Olympic Festival, which was held in July of 1987. Roger and his Raleigh Convention Center Team played a major role, hosting 5 sports of the Festival including Boxing, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Taekwondo, Table Tennis, and Weightlifting.

Meanwhile, Mayor Booth got the sports bug as a result of the highly-successful Olympic Festival. Seeing the tremendous crowds, media coverage, and economic benefits of the Festival, the Mayor became a champion for adding more facilities that could continue the momentum for hosting major sports events – particularly in Cary. Thanks to his locating an attractive site, negotiating a deal with the State of North Carolina (which owned the land) and Wake County (which built the venue), Mayor Booth was instrumental in laying the groundwork for WakeMed Soccer Park. And, of course, the Mayor made sure that his home town annexed the land so the new world-class venue would be located in Cary. Hill Carrow, Chair and CEO of the 2029 FISU World University Games, who interacted with both leaders extensively on sports endeavors said, “The Triangle and Central North Carolina would not have the top-tier facilities or sports industry position that we have today, without standing on the shoulders of visionaries like Roger Krupa and Koka Booth. They will both be sorely missed.”

Don’t Forget to Shop Local and Support the WUG

Our new online store is open with 2029 FISU World University Games t’s, polos, hoodies, tanks, caps, and more. Items come in a wide variety of colors, and the store has proven to be quite a popular online shopping destination since it went live May 31. Don’t miss your opportunity to show your support of the 2029 FISU World University Games and snag some excellent quality, name-brand clothing and caps to boot!

Support the Games

You can support the Games in a number of ways: corporate contribution, individual contribution, or volunteering. We encourage you to visit our website at www.ncusa2029wug.com and join our team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *