Jan 14, 2021

Get to Know the 2020 USEA Volunteer of the Year James Newman

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff

In a difficult year for the sport of eventing, it was volunteers like James (Jim) Newman who helped many events stay afloat. Through www.eventingvolunteers.com, Newman recorded a total of 292 hours and 51 minutes of volunteer service in 2020. Newman’s dedication to the sport amidst a pandemic earned him the top spot on the USEA Volunteer of the Year Presented by Sunsprite Warmbloods leaderboard. Claiming the top spot on this national leaderboard, Newman was awarded $1,000, a memorial trophy, and a custom USEA Volunteer of the Year embroidered jacket.

Throughout last year, Newman safely volunteered at events in Area II and Area III including Tryon International, Great Meadow International, VHT International, Radnor Hunt Horse Trials, Middleburg Horse Trials, and more.

In his own words, Newman opens up about volunteering, his love for foxhunting, and how he always lives life to the fullest.

USEA: Where is your hometown?

Newman: I have lived in Charlottesville, Virginia since 1985. I was born in Fayette, Alabama.

USEA: What is your favorite volunteer position?

Newman: I like being the cross-country finish timer. I normally have a great vantage point in watching the event. But what really makes it fun in most cases is Brian O'Connor, the [cross-country] controller. Listening to him manage the action is like taking a master course in eventing. Cross-country is always fun to watch, but unless you are on the radio net, you have no real sense as to what is going on in real-time. Brian is like a symphony conductor, as he weaves all of the volunteers and manages the competitors on course, so as to bring everything together to bring out the best in everyone and yet maintain a high level of safety. He elevates the form.”

USEA: How many years have you volunteered?

Newman: 2020 was my second year [volunteering].

USEA: What makes volunteering special?

Newman: When you volunteer you get to participate. It is obviously fun to watch the competition, but as a volunteer, you get to be part of the competition. Often down at the barn we will talk about the great ride that Will Coleman, Phillip Dutton, Liz Halliday-Sharp, or Boyd Martin had at a prior event. Well on any given weekend, as a volunteer, I ‘started’ any of these riders. I watched their horses explode out of a start box or take a finish. All of the riders willingly talk and share experiences with the volunteers and that seldom happens in any sport. That said, I must not forget the judges and technical delegates - the true ambassadors of the sport. These guys and gals will not hesitate to explain what is happening, explain the nuances of the rules and the sport, and go the extra mile to ensure safety. They always do it in a kind and nurturing fashion that really causes one to understand why our sport is so special. When you volunteer you become a part of this very special and exciting world.

USEA: Do you have any advice for fellow volunteers?

Newman: I would advise every volunteer to be sure and go to the USEA website and watch the [volunteer] videos and read the job descriptions related to the volunteer positions. Do not be hesitant to ask questions before the event starts, and do not be hesitant to ask the controller or a technical delegate a question during the ‘action’. They might not have time to immediately respond, but they will get you the information that you need as quickly as they can. They have a sincere interest in ensuring that you know the right call to make. But, above all else, embrace that everyone around you is intently interested that you succeed and have fun volunteering.

We all make mistakes. But as long as we all support each other, at the end of the day mutual support leads to the highest level of competition and a safe fun ‘ride’ for our sport.

USEA: What are your hobbies outside of volunteering?

Newman: I love to foxhunt. During the winter and most of the summer I sail a sailboat in Annapolis, Maryland, the Vineyard or Miami, [Florida]. I very much enjoy playing squash and tennis. I have eclectic musical interests. I am devoted to the Dover String Quartet who focuses on classical music. Yet I also attend concerts featuring ‘Lucky Chops’. Lucky Chops is a brass band that plays popular music loudly. So loudly in fact I can seldom get a date to go with me. I am a devotee of University of Alabama Football. I really enjoy dancing, be it foxtrot, rumba, waltz, or tango. I absolutely adore the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Virginia.

USEA: What is your life motto?

Newman: “Live life to the fullest.”

Thank you to all the volunteers who keep this sport alive, and a special thank you to James Newman for this great achievement!

About the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport, the unsung heroes, and the people who make it possible to keep the sport alive. In efforts to recognize the dedication, commitment, and hard work that volunteers put into eventing, USEA formed the Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) in 2015. In 2017, an online management portal was designed for volunteers, organizers, and volunteer coordinators at EventingVolunteers.com (available as an app for iOS and Android).

Volunteer incentives include national and area recognition, year-end awards with ribbons, cash prizes, and trophies, a top ten USEA Volunteer leaderboard, and a Volunteer of the Year award which is given to the volunteer who tops the leaderboard by accumulating the most volunteer hours over the USEA competition year. Click here to learn more about the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program.

The USEA would like to thank Sunsprite Warmbloods for sponsoring the Volunteer Incentive Program.

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