Tuesday, October 6, 2015

1976 - 4th World Age Group Games, Cedar Rapids

The 4th World Age Group Games were held July 9-10, 1976, at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Over 268 athletes participated, representing 13 countries. 

BUT WAIT! Let's tell this story from the beginning... 

Because WHO attended, HOW they got to Cedar Rapids 
and WHAT they did, is the REAL story of the
1976 - 4th World Age Group Games!

USTA Technical Director, Jack Castle and Meet Director, Ron Munn
1976 was a significant year for the USA, for it marked the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the creation of the United States of America as an independent republic.

Across the country, Americans were in a celebratory mood and open to extending a helping hand.

Meanwhile, the organizers of the 4th World Age Group Games rode in on a wave of good luck and good planning to host not only a successful competition, while also providing athlete transport, lodging, and entertainment in a manner that could not be duplicated in today's world.

The sequence of events:

July 3rd: 9th World Trampoline Championships, Tulsa, Oklahoma
July 4th: Independence Day, USA
July 9-10: 4th World Age Group Games, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Holding the World Age Group Games in the week following the 9th World Trampoline Championships taking place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, gave overseas athletes and coaches the unique opportunity to attend both events during a single trip to America.

To sweeten the pot, George Nissen made arrangements with Ozark Airlines, to schedule a special charter flight for the express purpose of transporting everyone from Tulsa to Cedar Rapids. During the flight, Ron Munn and his staff issued name tags to all aboard while explaining that families from Cedar Rapids would be waiting on the tarmac - - with a matching name tag.

Why the name tags?

It seems that among the multitude of bi-centennial celebrations, Americans were also being encouraged to open their homes to visiting foreign tourists and further share the "American experience." This was perfect timing for George Nissen, Ron Munn, and their World Age Group Games staff - - who contacted the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce - - and were met with full cooperation to help coordinate housing for 120 athletes.

Host-families were selected and eagerly volunteered to provide meals, lodging, and transportation throughout the week in exchange for the opportunity to share good old American hospitality and create life-long friendships.

As 120 athletes representing thirteen countries stepped off the Ozark flight and onto the red carpet they were greeted by the Honorable Mayor of Cedar Rapids, Don Canny, the Mt. Vernon Marching Band, and a throng of host-families - - each looking for a matching name tag.

What was planned?

Besides allowing serious workout time to trampoline and tumble, the week's itinerary included:

  • A special lunch, entertainment, and tour of the Nissen Corporation factory.
  • A visit to the Herbert Hoover Memorial Library in the nearby town of West Branch.
  • A picnic trip to a working Iowa farm.
  • Rides and entertainment at the All-Iowa Fair.

  • Ed Cole and George Nissen in the Nissen gym, surrounded by hungry visitors in the luncheon line

    Nissen employee Garnett Schaubroeck, demonstrates
    the construction of the trampoline bed
    Ron Munn referees a Cageball match between Britain and Australia

    Competition Highlights:

    Competition at Kennedy High School
    • Events included: Trampoline, Tumbling, Synchronized Trampoline, and Double Mini-Trampoline.
    • The new Nissen 6mm trampoline beds were introduced, along with an innovation to the trampoline springs, called, "Initial Tension Loss Compensator Springs."
    • 268 athletes participated representing: Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela, and the USA.
    • The well attended Awards Banquet held at the Longbranch Restaurant in Cedar Rapids included recognition of the winners plus special recognition of the event sponsors: the Nissen Corporation and the City of Cedar Rapids. 


    USA champions Diane Goldsworthy and Ken Kovach were featured in
    The Gazette, July 10, 1976

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