Bay Area Orienteering Club
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At the 2002 USOF Annual General Meeting, BAOC's own Evan Custer received the Silva Award, a prestigious honor given annually by the USOF for outstanding service to orienteering during the previous five years. It's essentially the national version of our club's Distinguished Service Award (which Evan has also won). Evan was nominated by BAOC's board of directors, and this is the first time a BAOC member has received the Silva Award.
Evan Custer
Evan Custer, recipient of the
2002 Silva Award from USOF.
Photo: Dan Greene
In announcing the award, USOF president Chuck Ferguson described Evan's accomplishments as follows:

"This year's Silva Award winner, Evan Custer, has shown outstanding volunteer leadership at both the local and national levels for many years. He has truly made a difference in the U.S. orienteering community.

Evan successfully headed the effort to bring SportIdent e-punching to USOF. Initially, he volunteered to undertake the research, leading to a Board of Directors (BOD) decision in April 2000 to purchase 90 control units and 300 e-cards. The BOD also set up an Electronic Punching Committee to establish guidelines for usage of the equipment, its maintenance, and a reservations policy to include shipping and return. Evan again volunteered to head up this committee and to personally supervise all of the details to get electronic punching established in the United States. His team carefully computed wear, tear, and loss and came up with a fair rental cost that could be earned back with a small increase in meet entry fees, and which would maintain USOF¹s rental inventory for the foreseeable future - again excellent planning and foresight.

Evan gathered talented USOF members to set up training for the programming of the SportsIdent (SI) System that had been purchased. Simultaneously, he wrote an excellent descriptive document, which was posted to the USOF web site explaining the system, its operations, its advantages, and its disadvantages. His lucid written explanations overcame the normal resistance that results from a fear of the unknown.

Evan led his committee in the development of the rental program in all aspects, from the cost of renting the equipment to advice on the purchase of personal e-cards. Early on, he established a minimum of three weeks between rentals to ensure that no club that planned its meet around use of the equipment would be left holding the bag when the previous user did not return the SI system in time for reshipment. Such common-sense ideas and thoughtful planning based on reasonably foreseeable consequences is rare in much of our society, and directly contributed to the widespread acceptance and use of electronic punching in the U.S.

Likewise, Evan encouraged clubs to purchase small starter sets of their own equipment for local events, and to allow club members to gain experience with the system before hosting a major meet. Several of the clubs who started out with small systems have made larger purchases and are self-sufficient.

Evan even set up an e-group mailing list for people, orienteers and non-orienteers, interested in using the SportIdent software. This allowed members with more experience to share shortcuts and solutions with those of lesser experience, vastly improving the learning curve for all. Even such a mundane consideration as posting a schedule of all meets seeking use of the equipment again worked to smooth out the fair use and spread of the technology. Finally, not only has Evan kept up with the latest versions of the SI software and the improvements in the hardware, but he has also been an excellent focal point for other software that interfaces well with the SI System.

All in all, Evan is indeed the "father" of successful electronic punching in the United States. He had the genius to immediately recognize a good tool and the planning acuity and leadership to implement that system from coast to coast. Despite the passage of less than two years and the absence of any mandatory use requirements, it is now more surprising to attend a major meet that does not use electronic punching than it is to find it there. We expect it. Our expectations are met, and we have Evan to thank.

Prior to his involvement with e-punching, Evan headed up the finish crew at the 1997 Veteran's World Cup in Minnesota. The finish was one of the few problem-free areas of the VWC, due to his hard work and diligence. Evan spent many hours before the event ensuring that all finish procedures worked properly, equipment was tested, and that everyone on his finish crew understood their duties. During the VWC, he sacrificed his own runs, working countless hours to exhaustion.

Evan has been event director and/or course setter for many A-meets and championships, including the 1999 U.S. Championships and the week-long 2000 Tahoe O-Fest. Evan will also be event director for the 2003 U.S. Championships. He has spearheaded BAOC's program of mapping Sierra terrain and hosting A-meet-caliber events in the Lake Tahoe basin.

At the local level, Evan was president of the Bay Area Orienteering Club for three years, and newsletter editor for three years. He is currently the club's event coordinator, responsible for 35+ events a year. As president, Evan put the club on a sound financial footing, which has brought the club many new maps, training grants for juniors, e-punching at most BAOC events, and more. Evan can always be found helping at an event. There was a dark period a few years ago when Evan was not able to orienteer for over a year due to a knee injury, yet he still came to most BAOC events and helped. Today, Evan is back in top form, trouncing nearly everyone (young and old) on the Green course - no mean feat for an M60+ competitor.

Evan's volunteer spirit and achievements make him a superb recipient for the 2002 Silva award."

Congratulations, Evan, on your receipt of this well-deserved honor!

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