USJA Presidents Letter

Dear USJA Members,

With so much happening since I became President, please excuse the length of this letter as I am communicating as much as possible and as often as possible to keep our membership abreast of our Organization’s activities. I am here to listen to you. The best way to reach me is through my email or leave a message at 646-784-2337 if I am not able to pick up immediately.

As promised, your Board is working swiftly to fill interim vacancies on the Board of Directors and key committees. We have now identified, nominated, and elected three new members to serve as interim Directors until October 15, 2021 when new Directors are elected. In the meantime, please welcome our interim members:

•Tamara (Tammy) Hemingway, New Jersey
•Mackel (Mac) Reagan, Tennessee
•Anibal(Aniva) Roman, Florida

Our new members are all dedicated to the art and sport of Judo. We are grateful to them for giving of their time and talent to USJA during this time. Welcome Aniva, Mac and Tammy!

In addition, this past week Brian Money agreed to be released from his duties as Chair of the S&E Committee. Brian is an asset to our USJA workforce, and his contributions are well recognized for his Inclusiveness Training for Special Needs and for his Riverside Youth Judo Clubbeing the largest PAL club in the USJA. We thank him for his dedicationand contributions on many levels and look forward to continued work with him in the future. Because of the crucial nature and time sensitivity of the work the S&ECommittee performs, I have identified a qualified candidate, Dave Lavelle of Tennessee to step in. With the Board’s unanimous vote of approval, he has been appointed the new Chairman of the USJA’s S&E Committee.

With a fuller Board of Directors, we are no longer working as a skeleton crew! We now have more hands-on deck to tackle one of our biggest challenges: bringing membership back to pre-covid levels. Prior to the lockdowns, membership was at about 8,000 members. It sank below 3000 by early 2021. This has caused a significant loss of the financial stability USJA once enjoyed, and combined with obstacles obtaining SBA grants or loans, it is impacting our ability to meet USJA’s immediate expenses.

To address this challenge, your Board is working diligently to bring membership back to pre-COVID levels – with measurable success! But we are not there yet, and we need your help.

As COVID restrictions are lifted around the country, our membership is once again on the rise. We just tipped over 4,000 members. This increase is critical to the survival of USJA. Thanks to you and your fellow dedicated USJA Life Members, Annual members, coachesand club owners we can together become strong again! If you are a coach or club owner, the most impactful thing you can do is continue to encourage your students to enroll or renew. To help you with that, we are running a USJA Membership Special. All new and renewed members who sign up before May 31 will receive 14 months of membership for the price of 12! Families – PLEASE NOTE – USJA offers family discounts of three or more, but they must be called in. The number to call is 516-366-3311.

As restrictions are lifted across the country, we want to pivot to re-opening key programs to our members, such as Coach Certification Seminars, Tournament Opportunities and the USJA National Training Center!

As a 3x US Judo Olympian and full-time owner of a large Judo Academy in New Jersey, I was honored when I was asked to organize and be the host of the first USJA National Training Center. The Grand Opening was in April of 2018 and once-a-month sessions were run for both Juniors and Seniors with as many as 10 participant clubs at any one time on the mat from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Many competitors who attended on a regular basis saw success in regional, national, and international tournamentsand were thrilled for the additional workouts with more players from other clubs.

However, in 2019 some scheduling conflicts arose due to a car accident that I was involved in when another driver ranared light and t-boned the driver side of my car. The resulting hospital stay and injuries took me out of commission temporarily. Right after that, serious facility issues (floodingwhich required mitigation), forced us to put two practice sessions on hold until I could double up on the schedule and get the facility back up and running smoothly. Just as NTC were about to get back on the calendar, Covid hit, and everything changed.

Now over a year later, Covid restrictions being lifted, and the previous issues resolved, we are excited to announce that we will be rescheduling these two outstanding sessions still waiting to be held! Be on the lookout for new dates coming soon.

We know everyone has struggled to survive through the pandemic. If you are facing challenges of your own, I want to hear from you. If you have a success story to share and would like to volunteer to help, I want to hear from you. We are now looking at different ways that we as an organization can help, and I will be sharing more about our plans and ideas in the weeks to come.

Congratulations to USJA Club, Jason Morris Judo Center of East Glenville, NY for garnering the Senior Elite Team trophy and the Second Place Overall Team Trophy at the recent US Judo Senior Nationals in Reno, Nevada with an impressive showing of JMJC competitors!

Don’t forget that the Promotion Committee will be reviewing promotion applications for Rokudan and above on July 1, 2021. Candidate applications are to be submitted by June 1 for review. If anyone has any questions, please contact the USJA Promotion Committee Chairperson, Donna Turk at or 770-880-2274.

I also want to remind everyone that nominations for individuals to get on the ballot for our upcoming elections are due by July 31. The call-in number is: 838-800-8752. Please have your USJA active membership number and year of birth on hand for verification. We are happy that many individuals have tossed their name in the hat for the nomination process also bringing more members back into our Organization. Five seats on the Board of Directors will be up for election. Two seats will carry over to the middle of next term. I have been identified along with Director Ed Rodriquez in the seats that will carry over. I do not feel this is place for me to endorse individuals that I would like to personally continue to work within the next term and who I believe will work best for you. Please always verify information that you hear and please know that the Board is working with Michael Goldsmith, the Election Committee Chairperson, for clear voting procedures that will be posted in the Elections Committee section of the website very soon! Feel free to reach out to any of your Board members for information or questions you might have.

I want you to know that I and the current Board of Directors are working to make things more transparentand bring more benefits to all our valued members. At the end of the day, it is all about judo and what judo does to inspire character and goals in all our juniors, seniors, and veterans. It is the comradery of practicing together and challenging each other. We support our instructors and coaches to continue to provideand maintain the learning atmosphere for all USJA students. With the recent interim Board appointments, you have an outstanding team of individuals with a tremendous amount of high-level experience encompassing the art and sport of judo, as well as nonprofit management, law, marketing, and fundraising. Each of us pledges to put forth our best effort to build up the organization and leave our successors with a solid operating foundation.

Please keep your ideas and questions coming. My goal is to always ensure our organization works hard for you and for the great art and sport of judo. Greatness awaits!

With humble resolve,

Celita Schutz
3x USA Judo Olympian
USJA President

Upcoming USJA Events:
The Greatest Camp on Earth 2021 hosted by the Carolinas American Judo Association, June 24-26, 2021 in Matthews, NC.
USJA/USJF Nationals on September 4-5, 2021 in Cape Coral, Florida

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