University Club Leadership and Development (pt 2)

Part one of this post can be found here

Transition Of Club Administrative Positions

The committee’s job is to keep the boat afloat, find novel ways to attract new passengers and aim to transform the club from tug boat to tanker to cruise liner. But it is also your duty to help the new crew find their sea legs. Put together a cohesive plan to prepare the new hands before you jump ship and avoid putting one of these guys at the helm:

drunkphil The Drunk: You return to university 2 days before term starts, having not checked your email all summer, to find a barrage of messages from your fellow committee members begging for guidance on how to organise freshers week. It’s at this point you remember drunkenly accepting the role of club captain at some party a few months back and decide to text the previous captain for some tips.

fidel The Dictator: This is going to be your year! You’ve spent all summer at the desk beneath your Stalin poster reading management books and Frisbee blogs and devising your revolutionary plans, it’s time to take control!

Ensure that those stepping into your shoes are suitably prepared and understand the long term aims of the club. Don’t let your hard work go to waste, make sure the incoming committee shares your vision for the club and hopefully has a few new ideas of their own.

It is up to you to find the most effective method to transfer your knowledge. This might involve sitting down with your successor and explaining your responsibilities and duties, providing them with notes, documents or diagrams and importantly discussing any of your failures or problems from the previous year. By documenting your wisdom and an outline of your post, you will provide a valuable resource for the future of the club and flatten the learning curve for your successors.

Often the best way to learn is by guided experience; introduce a period of overlap during the transition, share the shoes for a while. Hold your AGM early so that the incoming committee slots smoothly in to position and maximises continuity. Then set them free; sure, they will make some errors but as any junkie will tell you we learn more from our own mistakes than others advice.

The AGM

The annual general meeting is your chance to elect a new governing class, to assess your achievements from the previous year and set goals for the upcoming season. The AGM should always be conducted with last years minutes at hand to discuss the aims previously set, to what extent these have been achieved and if they need to be altered for the year ahead. Highlight ways in which you can improve the club and choose specific goals that allow you to measure your success at the end of the year i.e. get a better training facility, send a competitive 2nd team to outdoor regionals etc. Plan to continually assess performance of the club and committee and put in place methods for other club members to provide feedback. Then get drunk.

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When it comes to electing positions don’t feel you need to stick with the traditional appointments. Identify the duties that need to be performed, the weaknesses and strengths of the previous structure and create roles based on your expectations for next year. Clearly define the roles, tasks and duties for each position. For instance, who is responsible for planning each training session? Who is in charge of keeping the club calendar up to date? Who will register teams for tournaments?

Take on the role if you are committed. Make sure you are aware of the responsibilities you are taking on and how much effort and time they will consume. Think about your year ahead, your potential workload and other commitments. Once elected get in touch with your predecessor (if one exists) and get to know your position and any potential issues you should be aware of. Finally, sit down with your committee and write your two year plan. Ensure your individual goals are transparent to the entire club and not just on your own private checklist.

How Can We Develop?

“Player turnover is relentless in university ultimate and the committee changes every year. How can we set long term goals?” – scared new committee member

By setting 1 or 2 year goals, encouraging a communicative transition between committees and constantly transferring your skills and knowledge to other club members. Focus on the parts of the club that are consistent e.g. funding, training venues, a large population to recruit from, registered coaches etc. Here are a few things to think about:

Recruitment
A bigger club means more money and better recognition. Recruitment is something that can be accurately measured. Not only initial recruitment but player retention. Set goals to increase your membership each year and use novel ways to do it. Think about your audience, are you are able to attract total beginners and elite athletes? Can you interact with other sports clubs and societies? Can you have multiple recruitment drives and taster sessions?

Most players start as complete beginners and take 4 years to become good players and coaches. Due to this cycle a bad recruitment year can have a profound effect on the following 3, leaving holes in your talent base.

Funding
How can you get more? Make sure you are aware of all the schemes your sports association has to offer. Quite often they will pay for travel, kit, coaching courses, gym sessions etc on top of the funding you have applied for. Find out what entitles you to a larger budget. Is it club subscription? Better results or BUCS points? A raised profile of the sport in the community? Whatever it is make it a focus for your club. Can you apply for external funding or sponsorship outwith the university? Can you fund raise at all or host more lucrative tournaments?

What do you do with any extra money? The best use of funds is usually anything that gets more people playing ultimate. This means that fully subsidising tournaments your members would go to anyway isn’t always the best use of resources. You do want to give something back to your committed members but you are also trying to increase that demographic.

Other University Perks
Find out what similar sized minority sports/societies are getting at your university. Find out what other ultimate clubs at different universities are entitled to and try to fight your case. For instance:

  • St Andrews are offered access to gym facilities, pitches and fitness coaches for a week of pre-season training (more on that here: Benji Heywood on being a professional coach).
  • Ro Sham Bo elite players have free access to personal training programs.

What other contacts can the university provide you? Nutritionist, gym instructors or fitness coaches to run one off sessions. Coaching course, First aid courses? Venues for social events? What can the unions do for you on social occasions? If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Help players reach their full potential
Make sure you are connected with club teams in all divisions in your local area and can provide the correct information for players that want to play beyond university level. Make them aware of club trials, GB trials and national/international tournaments. How can your teams and players earn sporting colours? Has anyone been nominated before?

Training venues
Training venues and schedules should be reassessed each term. Don’t stick with the status-quo because it’s the way things have always been done. Constantly harass your sports association for better training venues if available.

Stay in touch with UK Ultimate
Find out what UKU (www.ukultimate.com) are doing to promote the sport and to help out their affiliated clubs.

Why Should You Want To Develop?

Why should you be the one to do this? University clubs are not under pressure to survive, they will always have the funds and resources available to exist and allow students to play Ultimate, isn’t that enough? Can’t I just do the bare minimum?

Firstly, setting goals for the club and achieving them is a huge learning experience and demonstrating these skills will look good on your CV. A matter of pride should also compel you to hand over a better club than the one you received. Honour aside, it is actually your responsibility.

frisbeepapua As an elected committee member you are obliged and trusted to keep the club in good stead and produce a plan for the future. By improving membership, funding, quality of training and social interaction you are setting up a better base for ultimate when you leave. I’ve always said “all I need is a disc and my body”, but it’s so much more enjoyable when you have an organised club, committed team mates and a structure in place to improve and recruit. You can make a significant contribution to the sport in your local area that will make everyone’s Frisbee experience more fun and probably cheaper. Cheaper = More Frisbee (or more money to spend on food as you spent it all on books, beer and Frisbee).

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