THE HIGHMARK QUAD – WHERE WE’VE BEEN
Oh my. A history of the QUAD? It sure wouldn’t be a brief history if I am the one writing it.
For now, just a few highlights:
- In 1983 the Times Publishing Company, in an effort to publicize their new Monday sports supplement (called SportsWeek) to the Erie Times News became the first sponsor of the QUAD Games. Since there were no QUAD Games anywhere else in the United States (there still isn’t) and triathlons were few, ski races and bike races negligible, having a newspaper as the title sponsor was a perfect vehicle to explain what this crazy thing called QUAD was all about. What happens when there isn’t enough snow for the ski race? You could read about it in SportsWeek. How do you get several hundred people into a six-lane pool for swim meet? You could find out in SportsWeek. Although the sponsorship ended after one year, it was a very important sponsorship for the QUAD Games and I will be forever in debt to the people that brought the QUAD to sponsorship-birth in those days. As we embark on the 30th season, I am happy to have GoErie, the electronic sister to the Erie Times as one of our sponsors.
- In 1984 Saint Vincent Health Center became the title sponsor of the Saint Vincent QUAD Games and would continue that sponsorship for the next ten years. This was a terrific time for growth for the QUAD Games and I was fortunate to work with some of the best young marketing minds and creative people in Northwest Pennsylvania – all of them in a tight friendship of co-workers in the Corporate Communication Department at Saint Vincent. I look forward to adding more to this period in future postings.
- From 1994 to 1996 our title was The PNC Bank QUAD Games and that was my introduction to Pete Sitter, then marketing director of PNC Bank in Erie. During the PNC years which was followed by Pete moving to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and the sponsorship following him there, Pete was a guy who really ‘got it’ when it came to the QUAD’s appeal. A number of key, critical innovations and subtle changes to the QUAD format came from suggestions by Pete Sitter and the QUAD Games have been better for it.
- By 1995 although PNC was still the sponsor, the YMCA of Greater Erie had stepped up as not just the benefactor but as an organization that has been ground zero for health and fitness in Erie for more than 150 years. Now the Y provided the infrastructure for the QUAD Games and by 1997 Highmark became the official title sponsor with the Y the support system for the events. Jim Martin followed Pete Sitter at Highmark and proved to be just as intuitive with his regard for the community impact the Games had. The relationship of Highmark and the Y continues to this day as we look toward the 30th anniversary.
In days to come I look forward to adding stories of many critical events, bike races following tornados, ski race meltdowns, swim meets postponed by snow, running events in historical heat, QUAD turning points and unique individuals that have blessed the history of the Highmark QUAD Games.