USATF - Thom Confer, a 1975 Charleston Southern graduate, was awarded the Milton Hershey Award by USA Track & Field and The Hershey Company. Confer received his award on July 25 as part of the Opening Ceremonies at the 2017 USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Championships in Lawrence, Kansas.
Confer's start in the sport began in high school, and he went on to compete collegiately in the 800m and 1,600 meters at Charleston Southern University in the 1970s. He has coached high school track and field for more than ten years and has been involved in the USATF Southern California Association since 2000. He first served as the Association's youth vice president and later transitioned to executive treasurer. Confer has served as the President of USATF Southern California Association since 2010, is a USATF Western Regional Representative, and currently is USATF's national chair of its Para-Athletic Committee.
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 have positively affected the lives of young people.
Confer's volunteer work spans from coaching to administration, including most recently heading up the USATF Southern California Association RunJumpThrowprogram, which has impacted close to 20,000 children over the last two years.
"I am humbled and honored to receive the Milton Hershey Award," Confer said. "As I do what I do to promote the sport that provided an opportunity for me to further my education, develop friendships and most importantly, the opportunity to help grow the sport."
Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, Confer and his team at USATF Southern California introduced RunJumpThrow - USATF's youth activity program with The Hershey Company - to six school districts in Southern California, adapting the program to the needs of the school district. "We're actually going out to schools and taking over their physical education program, with the goal of getting students to want to do a track meet," Confer said. "I really see this as my way of giving back to what I've been able to learn from participating in track and field."
"Our sport simply would not exist without the volunteer work of people like Thom," USATF CEO Max Siegel said. "Particularly in his work with RunJumpThrow the last two years, he has led the USATF Southern California Association in being a true innovator for bringing the joys of physical activity and track & field to the masses."
"We applaud Thom's commitment to bringing track & field to the community at large," said Leigh Horner, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility from The Hershey Company. "He has devoted more than half of his life to the sport, and he is selflessly sharing his knowledge, commitment, and passion. We thank him for his service to young people, and for carrying forward our founder Milton Hershey's commitment to improving the lives of children."
Confer also operates a youth club program year-round which exposes youth athletes to the fundamentals of running through conditioning and track and field competitions.
For more information on RunJumpThrow, visit www.usatf.org/runjumpthrow.