Teamwork, Leadership, Empowerment
UTAH SCHOOLS SPORTS ASSOCIATION
The Utah Schools Sports Association (USSA) was founded in the fall of 2007 by Richard Dewey, a Parent of a Student at Independence High School (IHS) in Provo. Mr. Dewey observed the need for an athletic association that would provide a legitimate High School athletic experience for Students that were left out of the traditional system. He had seen a similar association a decade earlier that folded when two Athletic Directors, who were the driving force behind the league, left Utah for other jobs. Mr. Dewey set out to design a similar league, but with an organizational structure that would provide long term league stability. His family background had somewhat of a history in organizing long-term sporting venues. In his hometown of Memphis, Mr. Dewey’s father organized the Liberty Bowl (technically its precursor, the Delta Bowl) and voluntarily served as its first President. Over 60 years later, the Liberty Bowl is still considered one of the top bowl games in the Country. Mr. Dewey promised the administration of IHS that he would provide a good coach and form a league that would give Students the desired experience. His first step was to organize a basketball team that was more structured and competitive than the previous Jr. Jazz City League teams with which the school had been competing. The Administration agreed to support a higher grade of sports and to hire former college player and highly polished coach, Josh Hall, to coach the basketball team. Mr. Dewey and Mr. Hall completely committed to the establishment of the USSA by investing a considerable amount of their own time and money to launch the league in 2007. Mr. Dewey made over 1,000 calls to 100 schools. He found 10 schools willing to join the league the first year, and several more the following year. The locations ranged from Logan to Price and Ogden to Provo. Mr. Dewey served as the Commissioner the first year. Having heard of the dissolution of the prior league, Mr. Hall, with his business background, advised Mr. Dewey to structure the USAA in such a manner as to be on-going and stable. The organization of the USSA was established immediately upon completion of the first basketball season. Mr. Dewey chose the second Commissioner to replace himself, and together they organized a completely volunteer Board of Directors. The Board soon took over all organizational functions. USSA Member Schools were then asked to provide replacement Board Members so the league could be self-sustaining even if the existing personnel were to leave. A bank account was set up as well with funds rolling over each year to the new season. The Officials were originally provided by Mr. Dewey finding a mix of City League and High School Certified Officials who were willing to Referee games. Shortly after the start of the first season, Bo Earls of Utah Valley University came aboard, providing refs and facilities from the University. The addition of Mr. Earls and the services he provided gave great impetus to the league and he was among the first USSA Board Members. Mr. Earls has since moved to Texas but continues to be a valued advisor to the league. While the first season was limited to boys’ basketball, the league quickly expanded to other sports. Volleyball and flag football were added the second season, then Mr. Dewey launched a separate soccer league as a trial sport the third year. The league gauged the students’ interest and merged the new soccer league into USAA. Other sports have been added since. In 2012 the USSA registered as a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. This enables donations to the Association to be written off by the donors for tax purposes. Donations are always welcome and appreciated. The USSA is run completely on donations, minimal fees, and volunteers. All Board and Commissioner Positions are volunteer; no one is paid, with exception of the Officials, who have graciously worked with the league at a substantially discounted rate over the years when compared to other sports associations for whom they might referee. Currently, the USSA is comprised of an eclectic mix of Charter, Alternative, Residential Treatment, and Independent Schools. Association schools inexpensively provide their Students with a legitimate High School athletic experience. This valuable experience is critical for the development of teamwork and self discipline concepts as well as time management, leadership, and social skills that will empower students for future success. Mr.Dewey’s dream of providing the High School athletic experience for all Students is alive and well.