The regular meeting of the Nittany Valley Running Club was held on Tuesday, December 6, at the Hi-Way Pizza on Westerly Parkway. A huge crowd was on hand for the meeting. On hand were Dave Eggler, Marty Klanchar, Jerry Steffy, Marty Mazur, Jim Kisenwether, Dave De Groote, Boyd Brumbaugh, Jayson Jackson, John Schmidt, Amy Paster, Monika Modest, Shaun Woods, Kim Gasper, Bob Boozer, Mark Fedkin, Katya Bazilevskaya, and their kids Natasha and Nikita. Three pizzas and several pitchers of beer were barely enough for this crowd.

The main topic of the meeting was NVRC sponsorship of running and training programs. More on that later. First, Dave Eggler gave his report on the Nittany Valley Half-Marathon. The crowd was big, though not helped by the several inches of snow covering the beginning of the course. There were nearly 300 registrants and over 250 finishers. The new course was a hit despite the snow at the beginning. We would have had the same problem with the old course, anyway. Ag Arena is a great venue. And having the final turn toward the finish right in front of the statue of JoePa enhanced the nearly religious experience of completing the Half.

Marty Mazur reported that we have some dates for our Indoor Mile series in January and February. They'll be posted on the web on our Indoor Mile pages soon. Bob Boozer announced that there will likely be a change in the date of next year's Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon in order to accommodate the desire of the USATF to have its Ultra Championship (Tussey) not conflict with another major Ultra race to be held in Korea. The club members present listened to other possible dates and registered their preferences. We suggested that Race Director Mike Casper steer away from the later dates (late October and early November). Late September would be fine (it's always cooler in the mountains) as long as we don't hold it on the same day as the Bald Eagle Megatransect (September 23).

The big topic, as mentioned above, was NVRC sponsorship of running and training programs. In recent years we have sponsored Greg Fredericks' and Liz Kisenwether's Youth Cross-Country Series, John Schmidt's Nittany Track and Field Youth Club and Scott Brooker's Penns Valley Track Club. Kim Gasper would like our help for some kids races in Bellefonte. And Jayson Jackson is looking for a role in training local athletes, young and old.

John Schmidt was in attendance to give a report on what he did last year with his club and to make a request for continued support this year. John's club is open to kids ages 8-18. Because of the availability of high school and middle school programs in State College, most of the kids that participated are 12 and under. John's club fees and sponsorships helped cover expenses such as uniforms and equipment, and also went toward entry fees in various regional track and cross-country races that his kids competed in. The NVRC members present thought that John had made very  good use of the sponsorship we gave him. John would like to be able next year to hire a track coach for his summer program. He has gotten a lot of encouragement from parents, who think that John's program is cheap for the dues he charges. Maybe John can afford to pay a coaching stipend by raising his rates! The members present indicated that we would likely sponsor his club at least at last year's level of $800. John will be making a formal request soon.

Scott Brooker could not make last night's meeting. His Penns Valley program is a high school level program for winter running and a junior high level program for the spring. Scott used the money ($500) mostly for entry fees. Scott will be writing up a formal request as well.

Jayson Jackson is a local trainer, former Penn State runner, and former assistant track and cross-country coach at State High. Jayson is looking for a way to use his expertise in training to help athletes young and old. Jayson came to the meeting to figure out how he might be able to accomplish this either by starting a club of his own, or to plug into one of the training clubs we support, such as John Schmidt's. Jayson will be getting back to us with his plans.

Kim Gasper, running coach at Bellefonte Area High School, directed a series of races for kids 8th grade and younger in Bellefonte last spring. She'd like to do it again. We're encouraging her to enlarge the program, with our help.

With the focus on sponsored programs, the question came up again as to what is the NVRC's policy when people ask us for money for these or any other endeavors. The Club has a fair stash of cash and a mission statement that says that our purpose is "to establish a sound, continuing program of youth and adult fitness, to promote development and competition for all age groups, and to conscientiously prepare athletes for competition." While we currently strive to accomplish the mission, we've had various requests as above without a formal policy in place to handle requests for money. Currently, we've made ad hoc grants and will probably continue to support those whom we've supported in the past. We had made some promises to hammer out such a policy, but have not done it. So, with the heat on, the Club officers decided to take action. We'll be meeting next month to draft a strawman policy. The policy would address three things: a budget, i.e. how much money can we afford to grant every year and maintain a good reserve of cash; policies and  procedures for requesting money, including who is eligible and what information we require to consider a request; finally, what kind of accountability would we require of grantees. We'll report this draft policy at the next general meeting for revision, and then to the Club at large via email or the Newsletter.

Next Meeting: February 7.