I had the opportunity to chat with Jim Wofford for a few minutes this evening about his decision to apply for the USEF’s Chef/Technical Advisor position. When I first heard that Jim was applying, I will admit that my first reaction was to ask myself ‘does Jim really want to put up with that mess at this stage in his life?‘ It took me about 15 seconds of chatting with him to realize that Jimmy is 100% committed to winning the job and to succeeding in the job once he gets it. If you know Jimmy, you know exactly what tone of voice he was using.
The first thing we talked about was that, like David, he is applying for both the Chef and Technical Advisor roles as one. Jimmy explained that the Chef responsibility is not all that time consuming, aside from a few committees. He also said that having one Chef/Technical Advisor would cut down on expenses and communication errors. As he put it:
“I think it’s important to have a unity of message to the riders.”
Jimmy explained that over the past several years he has been organizing his life in preparation for this role, and that while he continues to coach actively, he has put an emphasis on making his life free of conflicts of interest. Jimmy also explained that he will be fully committed to the job:
“It is my intention to be the first full-time US coach.”
Jim’s qualifications are impossible to question. He is a 3 time Olympian and won individual silver in 1980. He competed at the World Championships 2 times, won the US national championships 5 times, and is a member of the USEA hall of fame. Perhaps most importantly, Jimmy has extraordinary coaching experience. Jimmy coached the Canadian Team at the 2002 WEGs, the 2003 Pan Ams, and the 2004 Olympics. He didn’t have quite the success that David has had with the Canadians, but he did win team bronze in 2003.
Jimmy told me that he has coached at least one student on every U.S. Olympic, World Championship, and Pan-American team since 1978, and that he decided to apply for the job after sitting down and writing out the achievements of his students. Jimmy has coached Karen, David, and Kim to name a few, and, while I think all three of those riders would have been Team riders no matter who coached them, they are good students to have on your resume.
For eventers, Jimmy is a regular spectator at major competitions these days. He has maintained a leadership role in our sport both behind the scenes and through his blog. The eventing public’s support from Jimmy is unquestioned and trust me when I say that the USEF and the US Team’s sponsors are keeping an eye on public opinion.
The one concern that is sure to be raised is Jimmy’s distance of late from big time competing and coaching. Jimmy retired from riding over 20 years ago, and he hasn’t had the steady stream of 4* students that Phillip and David have had over the last decade. That said, it’s hard to look at Jimmy’s lifetime of service to eventing and disagree when he told me:
“I am uniquely qualified to lead the US team.”