Mark Herrin could not have been more pleased with the changes at the University of Central Oklahoma. In just a few years, the school went from a host for the Endeavor Games to one of the premier Paralympic training facilities in the nation. Still, the UCO Assistant Vice President of Wellness and Sport believed the school was a long ways from hosting the 2010 Sitting Volleyball World.
Four years later, Herrin and the UCO staff are ironing out all the final details as the university prepares to host the international competition on July 10-18.
“We knew we wanted to get into hosting events, but we didn’t really know anything about it,” Herrin said during Tuesday’s Edmond Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at Oak Tree Country Club. “We put a bid package together that we thought was primary at best and we got it. Then we had to stand back and scratch our heads and think how did we get this.”
The Sitting Volleyball Worlds will feature over 600 athletes from 20 countries vying for a spot in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The athletes will live and train on the UCO campus with competitions taking place at Hamilton Field House.
Since winning the bid four years ago, UCO has continued to raise its profile in the world of Olympic and Paralympic competition. Last summer the university and the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation were named just one of 10 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training facilities. UCO had been an Paralympic training site for volleyball, archery and power lifting, but added the Olympic designation. Herrin credits that rapid expansion to the success of the Endeavor Games and later training athletes for the Beijing Paralympic Games.
“We’re literally seeing day to day growth with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and as we continue to gain trust with the organization they continue to look at us for training, event management and research,” Herrin said. “The training site designation is something we’re trying to get the word out about. And as more and more athletes relocated to Edmond this is going to become a mini Colorado Springs. Our big goal is to become Colorado Springs.”
Along with the opportunity to host the international competition this summer, Herrin said the UCO community is excited to paint a portrait of America for their international guest.
“In their mind it may be Las Vegas, or Los Angeles or New York that is the picture of the US, but we’re going to bring them to Edmond, Oklahoma where we do American,” Herrin said. “And we have a rare opportunity to show these folks what an America is really about.”
For more information about the 2010 Sitting Volleyball Worlds visit 2010worlds.com.