Salsa and DanceSport in 2003 Junior Olympics


Just a few weeks ago, I reported that the National Dance Council of America made an historic move by giving their approval for NDCA events to be sanctioned events for the 2003 AAU Junior Olympics. This collaboration was done after many months of talks, meetings, and phone calls between principals of the NDCA and the AAU. As the AAU National Director for Dancesport and Salsa I can attest first hand that the NDCA bent over backwards in efforts to find a position with the AAU. People like Patti Troy, Rufus Dustin, Brian McDonald, and Judi Hatton, were instrumental in moving the NDCA to this historic pronouncement. The first sanctioning qualifying event for the 2003 Junior Olympics under this new collaboration will be on March 12-15, 2003, at the UNITED STATES NATIONAL JUNIOR AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARD DANCE SPORT CHAMPIONSHIPS®, at the Marriott Activity Center - BYU Campus, in Provo, Utah.

Now what does this all mean to the average parent and child competitor? First and foremost, the youth of this country have an "Olympic" venue. Although it is called the Junior Olympics, there is nothing Junior about them.

The AAU Junior Olympic Games began 33 years ago at the nation's capitol, Washington D. C., with two sports; swimming and track and field. The inaugural games marked the first time in the history of the AAU Youth Sports Program that two national championships were held at the same time.
"There is nothing junior about it" has become the theme of the AAU Junior Olympic Games over the years as the event has blossomed from 523 participating athletes in 1967 to over 14,000 registered participants in 25 sports in 1999. The AAU Junior Olympic Games hope to continue to expand and flourish into the 21st century as the popularity of sport and the attention of the youth in America intensifies.
The AAU Junior Olympic Games are known as the largest national multi-sport event for the youth of America today. It has become the showcase event of the AAU Sports Program. The AAU Junior Olympic Games prides itself with the nation's most outstanding athletes year in and year out.
The Games popularity has exploded to now represent all 50 states, several United States' territories, and American citizens on foreign soil. More than 25 different cities have hosted the Games since it's beginning. In 1998, the seven-city Hampton Roads region of Virginia was the site of another highly successful and well- received Games. The AAU Junior Olympic Games returned to its roots in 1999 when Cleveland hosted the 33rd AAU Junior Olympic Games. The AAU conducted the first Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Cleveland in 1949, giving rise to the organization's Youth Sports Program. A half-century later, the AAU's signature event is coming home to celebrate a 50-year anniversary. While the sports world continues to grow and change, one thing still remains the same, the AAU's commitment to the youth of America. Sports, for All Forever!

AAU Junior Olympic Games Alumni
Evelyn Ashford - Track & Field
Jackie Joyner-Kersee - Track & Field
Joan Beniot-Samuelson - Distance Running
Lisa Leslie - Basketball
Stephine Bodie - Weightlifting
Carl Lewis - Track & Field
Amanda Borden - Gymnastics
Greg Louganis - Diving
Tracy Caulkins - Swimming
Mary T. Meagher - Swimming
Bart Conner - Gymnastics
Cheryl Miller - Basketball
Mary Decker-Slaney - Track & Field
Shaquille O'Neal - Basketball
Dan Gable - Wrestling
Alberto Salazar - Distance Running
Anfernee Hardaway - Basketball
Carrie Strug - Gymnastics
Stephine Hightower - Track and Field
Kurt Thomas - Gymnastics
Chamique Holdsclaw - Basketball
Chris Webber - Basketball
Evander Holyfield - Track & Field

Parents and coaches will now have to make choices on what competitions to send their kids. A current listing of AAU Junior Olympic qualifying events are listed at as well as winners of the 2002 Junior Olympics in Salsa and Dancesport. Parents now can advise their kid's coaches in formulating a plan to have their child's dream come true. In the past there was not a choice in this country. There was only one venue that advertised that the way to Olympic Gold was through their National Championships. Although the Olympic dream for Dancesport is still in the picture for 2008, sources tell me that it is highly unlikely unless something dramatically changes.
Five years is a long time for kids, only to be disappointed. The Olympic dream has been a dream for many, many, years. I believe there is a faster way to achieve this and this is through the Junior Olympics, the same route many other sports did it. I believe also the NDCA is in agreement with this route as well. Let me also state very unmistakably that there is no agreement of any kind of exclusivity between the AAU and the NDCA. The AAU is not bound by any organizations and is open for all organizations to become a part of the Junior Olympic Games and sanctioning of events. It is just that the NDCA took its leap of faith in order to promote what is good for Dancesport and what is good for the youth of America. To me this is quite remarkable due to the current and past political ambiance of Dancesport in this country. This new venue will need a lot of support in the grassroots level. That means that parents and coaches need to make their voice heard. There is no more double talk, no more endless political board meetings, no more empty promises. It is here and now. Don't be left out. Come join in and experience "Olympic Gold".

For comments and inquiries, please email me at

Thank you,

Isaac Altman

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