INDIANAPOLIS -- A longtime advocate for track and field in the Native American community, Albert Gipp of Lawrence, Kansas, has been awarded the 2016 USATF Milton Hershey Award. Created by the partnership between USATF and Hershey, the Milton Hershey Award annually honors an individual whose volunteer contributions to youth track & field and fitness has positively affected the lives of young people.
Gipp will receive the award during the 2016 USATF Hershey National Youth Outdoor Championships in Millersville, Pennsylvania, on July 1.
"With his selfless devotion to under-served children, Albert Gipp is the embodiment of the values that Milton Hershey held dear," said Hall of Famer Rafer Johnson, the longtime spokesperson for The Hershey Company's track & field programs and the 1960 Olympic decathlon gold medalist. "We are pleased and honored to present him with the Milton Hershey Award."
Originally from Ft. Yates, North Dakota, Gipp is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and has worked with young people for nearly 40 years as an educator and coach, including through the Mini Mocs and Smoking Mocs year-round running program. Now in its seventh year, Mini Mocs is a no-cost program designed to give youth athletes experience in track and field.
"I am very honored to receive the USATF Milton Hershey Award," said Gipp, who has dedicated his professional life to coaching and teaching Native American children. "Being able to work with the youth is energetic and a positive experience for me and enables me to create a great learning environment for our athletes."
Gipp is involved with USATF through RunJumpThrow (RJT), USATF and Hershey's national youth activity program, hosting RJT programming for the Kickapoo Nation Boys and Girls Club of Kansas and also in Ft. Yates. Gipp's involvement extends to USATF's Future Stars Meets program, where he has been an event organizer since the program's inception in 2015. Future Stars Meets helps support community-based track meets, providing expense reimbursement, awards and branding to mid-level competitive meets.
"Mr. Gipp has been an integral part of USATF Future Stars Meets and a supporter of RunJumpThrow since we launched the programs," USATF CEO Max Siegel said. "He is a great example of how community activists can do great things through and with our sport."
"I really wanted to give all youth in our community the opportunity to learn about the track and field," Gipp said of the Mini Mocs program. "The goal is to inspire them to challenge themselves and have fun. I want to give back because track & field and cross county have been great to me, and it can be great for our athletes as well."
Gipp is a former conference champion javelin thrower at Augustana College (1978). He continued his track & field career as a successful track and cross country coach at Haskell Indian Nations University. Gipp has over 37 years of classroom teaching, and currently teaches at Haskell.
The 2016 USATF Hershey National Youth Outdoor Championships will be held June 28-July 3 at Millersville University. For more information visit http://www.usatf.org/Events---Calendar/2016/USATF-Hershey-Youth-Outdoor-Championships.aspx/
For more information on RunJumpThrow, visit: http://runjumpthrow.usatf.org/