For the past 10 years, the Wilson Awards, in partnership with Orienteering USA, have supported young, developing orienteers through the Iain Wilson Character through Competition Awards for outstanding character in orienteering. The award is intended to assist with the cost of education, training, and travel to local, regional and international orienteering events. For 2023 the Wilson awardees were Ben Brady from Cascade Orienteering Club and Alex Merka from Quantico Orienteering Club. Both athletes were subsequently chosen to compete for TeamUSA at the Junior World Championships in Romania this past July.
Ben writes “Orienteering, especially in the United States, is a difficult sport logistically as often times races will be on opposite ends of the country, and getting valuable orienteering experience in unfamiliar terrain requires many expensive plane flights and hotel accommodations. This fact is made even worse if you want to travel overseas. Through the Iain Wilson Award’s generosity, a large portion of my recent trip to Romania was funded, giving me the support to not only have an incredible orienteering experience, but also to improve my skills in the sport.”
After JWOC concluded, Alex came back to the US briefly to compete in the North American Orienteering Championships for TeamUSA as well as teaming up with her mother to compete in the 24 Hour World Rogaining Championships at Lake Tahoe.
In early August Alex moved to Czechia to study at Charles University and broaden her orienteering opportunities, competing for TeamUSA in the 2nd round of the Orienteering World Cup in Czechia days after arriving there.
Read more about Alex’s adventures since moving to Czechia in this TeamUSA blog post.
Ben and Alex both made excellent use of their ’23 Wilson Awards and applications are now being accepted for the 2024 Character through Competition Award as well as the 2024 Wilson Community Growth Grant which supports programs that bring orienteering to youth around the country.
Online forms as well as printable versions for both programs are available now on the Orienteering USA website. Visit this Application Link to apply today. Applications are due by February 15th, 2024.
Information and press releases on previous award recipients can be found in this document from the OUSA Library.