United States of America Netball Association
Inaugural Meeting, May 23, 1992.
Netball has been played in the United States since the 1970s, starting primarily in the New York area. The inaugural meeting of the USA Netball Association took place in New York on May 23, 1992, and was chaired by the President of the Bronx Netball Association, Dr. Yvonne Thomas. Representatives of the Bronx Netball Association, Florida Netball Association, American Netball Association of New York State, Texas Netball Association, Massachusetts State Netball League and Connecticut were present. They acknowledged this was an important milestone in the history of Netball in the United States, and the national association was officially launched with the acronym USANA.
The International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) recognized the importance of this meeting and was there to offer their guidance and assistance in the Association’s formation. They included: Mrs. Pat Taylor, the then president of IFNA, Mrs. Lystra Lewis, the then AFNA president, and Ms. Dorothy McHugh, the then secretary of IFNA.
At the end of the meeting, the various factions joined together to accomplish what first appeared to be the impossible: the formation of a United States of America Netball Association with 43 clubs and 7 Area associations comprising its nucleus. An executive committee was created and charged with taking the first tentative steps of a new association.
Mrs. Lewis challenged the fledgling association to remain focused on the task ahead, the immediate goal being the participation of the USA in the next world championship in three years.
USANA forged ahead under the leadership of its first President, Dr. Yvonne Thomas and held its first national championship the following year in Brooklyn with the slogan, “Get In Gear – Netball is here” and Mrs. Lewis returned to present the Lystra Lewis Trophy to the Champion Club.
FROM PAST TO PRESENT:
In 1995, the much awaited entrance of the USA on to the international stage took place, with the USA sending a team to Birmingham, England. The delegation of 25 was led by President Jacqueline Shaw. We won our pool to make it into the seeded positions, finally finishing 14th but having a couple of close losses along the way.
Following 1995, momentum slowed a little but the idea of bidding for the World Youth Championships started to gain ground. We knew we had to get the game to the American public in order to increase the game’s popularity and public support. We also recognized the endearment factor was critical to the success of the game we love. The future of netball is in our young players, and most of our children are American. Continued reliance on players who had played netball in other countries before immigrating to the United States could not build a solid base. With very limited resources, something had to be done!
A team succeeded in attending the World Championships in New Zealand, with some much needed help from the hosts.
Although we dropped one position in the rankings, we had the success of seeing our goal shooter standing 4th in the rankings for goals scored.
So, how to build? There was nothing else for it. We had to have a major publicity vehicle. Bids to host the Fifth World Youth Championships were put forward at the Congress held in Singapore with the USA getting the nod. IFNA leadership recognized the USA as being a netball-playing country would help in promoting the game. Whether we knew at the time what an undertaking this was to be is debatable. However, we have learned to be inventive and resourceful.
Further presentations were made at the Congress in Jamaica, following which the USA had the presence of mind to heed the recommendations being made and moved the event to Broward County. This changed the whole complexion of the event and meant a huge re-think. Never daunted, the USANA executive faced the task head on and put together a strong Organizing Committee backed by strong team leaders. The support of local politicians led by Commissioner Hazelle Rogers has made these championships a viable event beyond that which was ever anticipated.
It is the resourcefulness of the USANA Executive Committee that has seen Netball increase its membership in the States now having contacts in some 34 states with California, Miichigan, Tennessee, Missouri, New Jersey and Virginia joining its ranks. With the introduction of Netball into a school district in New Jersey and the installation of the USA’s first purpose built indoor Netball court, USANA looks forward to the next few years of growth. The recent bronze medal finish in the Americas Regional Qualifying Tournament, just missing out on goal average on the silver medal, ensures the USANA is on the right track to take its rightful place on the world stage.
As many people have contributed to the success of netball in the United States, it is impossible to acknowledge everyone. Some, however, deserve honorable mention: The Past Presidents, Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ms. Jackie Shaw, Ms. Lorraine Pierre, Ms. Pat Gray, Ms. Ava Foster, Ms. Sonia Rodney, Rev. Edina Bayne and Ms. Saundra Gray who has continued to make inroads into the scholastic system; the Presidents of our Area Associations who have supported USANA through good and bad times. The individual clubs who have recruited members to become large enough to be recognized as an Area Association. They travel long distances to play a single game and should never be underestimated as valued members of our Association. The first international talent, Ms.Jean Pierre , Ms. Barbara Robinson-Sinclair and Mrs. Carole Hokrein should also be commended for their contributions, particularly the latter who has USANA’s first Technical Officer had the daunting task of drafting USANA’s first constitution and who has worked tirelessly for USA Netball Association.
The recent revamp of the Constitution with the introduction of a strong regional structure will bring further involvement of USANA members into the running of the association and strengthening of grass roots administration which is essential if Netball is to succeed in the USA. Changes in the structure of world championships has affected USANA’s appearances on the world stage although a credible bronze medal finish in this 2010’s qualifiers was a strong step forward to regaining a world ranking.With a strong National Championships anticipated in June 2011, hosted in New York by CANA, USANA looks forward to welcoming new teams at this prestigious event.
Finally, when we first met back in 1992, everyone at the meeting, whether their views differed widely or not, recognized the contribution of the late Ms. Lystra Lewis in USANA’s formation. We met her challenge. Now we go on to meet the challenge of the world. We know we can do it. Get in Gear, Netball is Here! It’s Back to its Roots, Netball is Home.