Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award - Lisa Unger

Presented by David Yon January 15, 2010

The voice on the other end was a bit tentative.   I have applied for a job that would be a nice promotion for me.  Would you be ok if I used you as a reference?  What an easy request to say “yes” to.   While I did not know a thing about what this person’s work skills were, I had seen firsthand how committed she was to any task she took on.  And more than that, I had seen how well she accomplished the tasks she accepted. 

Initially, she took on those tasks with much caution, but she always finished them so strongly.  She began volunteering at races.  She said yes when surprised by a request to serve on the GWTC board.  She did such a good job she was asked to be Secretary.   She became a member of the awards committee and she eventually chaired the committee.  She showed up to volunteer at the summer track meets and soon she became the organizing force behind them.   There was a common theme to each of these items – she accepted a task, went to work in a quiet efficient way and did such a good job that she was asked to do more.  And in every case she not only did more but made the event – the race, the Board, that awards committee and the summer track meet, a better organization by virtue of her work.

The Cleveland – Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award is not just for someone who works hard for the club or volunteers a lot.  We have other awards to recognize those efforts.  The award was created in 1984 to recognize those who make significant contributions to the advancement of the sport through their special effort.  In other words they leave our sport better for the effort they gave.  Just like the awards name sakes, Rex Cleveland and Mike Caldwell did.

And that is just what this person does – she leaves everything she touches better off for her efforts than it was when she started.  She is not flashy with her effort, but she does it by paying attention to detail and through her persistence. You have heard already about her efforts on the Board, the awards committee and the summer track series.  But maybe her best effort jelled this past fall.   One of GWTC’s unique and special events, The Women’s Distance Festival 5K had fallen on hard times.  Crowds had dwindled and hard times governed.  She didn’t turn it around right away, but started the process by paying attention to details and building the blocks to bring runners back to this great event which recognizes the achievements of women in our sport.  As one nominator said “Lisa has succeeded in giving this event a special presence.  Each year the race grows a little more because it feels good to participants who experience the unique staggered start and her attention to small details like candies, extra toilet paper and using all female recording artists for pre and post race ambiance.”  This past year over 300 runners showed up; a record crowd.

For all she has done to make GWTC a better organization and to advance our sport in Tallahassee, please join me in saying thanks to the 2010 Rex Cleveland-Mike Caldwell Advancement of the Sport winner, Lisa Unger.