Mission Statement and Vision for our Team

Notes from the President on February 12th, 2012 Comments Off on Mission Statement and Vision for our Team

MISSION AND VISION STATEMENT

FOR THE STONEHOUSE SPLASH SWIM TEAM

Thank you in advance for reading this Mission and Vision Statement. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what you as the team parents have offered in your surveys, and what we as a team need to do to be more successful and I will say before all else that it is the support and contributions of the swim team parentage that is the foundation and fertilizer for effective team growth. Without contribution, however limited or extensive, from EVERY member parent of the swim team, anything we wish to do or become is simply impossible, for there is just not enough time in any segment of the parents schedules to fulfill all team functions and duties. So I thank you in advance for your continued support. Some of you have already been tapped on the shoulder to serve in supervisory or chair type positions, and for those of you who have pledged to fill those, I thank you. There are still a few that remain to be filled, however. I personally run my own real estate property management business which is insanely busy at times, but I have agreed to take this position due to my passion for this program. I don’t expect everyone to have the same passion, but I do expect that if asked to chip in, that you will do so in some capacity.

With that aside, it is my firm belief that the success of our swim team revolves around several fundamental and equally important elements. In order for our swim team to grow and achieve, we must have:

1. Visibility – the community must actually know that the swim team does exist, when the season starts, how fun and rewarding it really is, and where or who to go to to find out more information about it.

2. Fun – if being on the swim team is not fun and rewarding, no child will want to be on it. Similarly, if we can’t make it fun for the parents as well, no parent will want to put their kid on the team in the first place

3. Competitiveness– As Vince Lombardi famously said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!” All kidding aside, no matter how cool we make it to be on the team, no matter how spectacular our recruiting is, how ridiculously awesome our events are, or how amazing our coaches are, if we don’t win consistently, we will not retain swimmers, particularly if we manage to corral some 13+ swimmers.

4. Achievement– this encompasses both a swimmers individual achievement and improvement and the recognition of this achievement. This occurs with the awards system, best times tracking, swimmer of the week and other general acts intended to make sure that as the swimmers improve, they know it and are reinforced.

5. Coaching – unlike year round swimming, summer swimming coaches are generally working with a group of swimmers that have fundamental swimming skills or may not know how to swim at all. They must then balance the need for fundamental drills for beginners for with more advance drills for the more experienced swimmers. Without a coaching staff that understands that combination, can receive guidance and will place the proper and equal importance on the four factors listed above, the team will become uninterested, bored, overworked, underachieving or a combination of any of these.

6. Funding– if we do not have money, we cannot pay our coaches, hand out ribbons, put on fun events, or fund ideas intended to boost visibility.

In everything I seek to accomplish with this team, every act is tied to at least one of these tenets. In short our mission as a team should be:

To together with the Coaching staff, yield a Competitive Swim Team that helps its members to improve their swimming skills while emphasizing the concept of team sportsmanship and recognition of individual achievement as well, in a fun filled and enjoyable atmosphere.

So how do we fulfill this mission? As President I am tasked with the administration of the team in its normal operations, but I must also formulate ideas and a vision of how we can become the best swim team possible given our unique set of limitations and advantages. Here are a few of my ideas, my vision that I believe will help us continue to grow and improve as a team in the fulfillment of our mission:

Visibility:
Last year as recruiting chair, I had two goals. One was to do everything in my power to incorporate Stonehouse Glen kids on to our team, both for the obvious reason which was that they belong on our team, but also to increase team membership to allow for team sustainability. I implemented a number of new ideas to make the team distributed materials more attractive and eye catching, and pushed forward a more aggressive campaign of soliciting neighbors with kids to join our team with the ‘You’ve been Splashed’ door magnets. I’d like to continue those items as well as:

  • increase active presence at Stonehouse events, with perhaps a dedicated table set up with promotional materials to spread the word more actively.
  • utilize theswimmers themselves as junior recruiters by distribution of materials at the morning bus stops and by simply talking the team up
  • meet with Millpond Neighborhood Representatives in their meetings to let the community know somemore about our team
  • have a combination Early Bird registration combined with a party (luau?) in early spring to get people to take a look at us
  • hold the Cookies with Santa event at the Glen next year to start more substantial visibility over there.

Fun:

Here I think we do a pretty darn good job. I think our kids immensely enjoy our meets, I think we have a great music set up and the atmosphere is pretty electric, and the kids have loved the events we have put on. There were some issues with the kids not having enough fun in practice and threatening to quit, and I think the pendulum swung pretty hard on that to maybe too much fun. I think we also need to implement some ways for the parents to have some fun together as well. I am completely open to new ideas in this area, which you may send to me at stonehousesplashswimteam@gmail.com. I also think we had a very cool t-shirt last year, and we’ve got a very innovative one this year as well. There have been a few folks that have pointed to more merchandising for more items and more choices for shirt types with our free shirt and we are going to work on both of those items to try and bring them to fruition. Would love to get some opinions and more ideas on these.

Competitiveness:

Last season was by far our most successful season, both in record and in Champs, where we made a quantum leap. But the thing that has hurt us the most was our inability to recruit and retain swimmers over the age of 12.  This is not a Stonehouse problem, however. Teams all around the league have a problem keeping older kids on their team, an issue typically referred in swimming circles as ‘aging out’. Most teams, however, do manage to get a few older kids on their teams. And it would only take a few for us to counter the 80 some odd point loss we typically experience just in the 15-18 category. Since we have a relatively strong team under the age of 12, I would suggest we focus our energy on programs, incentives and recruiting geared almost entirely at the teen age group. We have scores of older kids in this neighborhood, and some will never want to swim. But some probably will if given the proper motivation. In order to draw more 13+ swimmers, I suggest we:

  1. Make startup practices for ages 13 and up isolated: this may not be many swimmers, but I know of at least one case where an older swimmer quit last year primarily because he was surrounded by 8 year olds on that first time trials day (or at least it might have felt that way). In the beginning, it will be important for the older swimmers to develop their own comraderie. Later, as they have interaction with the younger ones in meets, we can integrate them with other age groups.
  2. With every teen, there needs to be some tangible reward for putting forth effort and joining something that is not necessarily vogue. And no teen wants anything more than a iPad or iPhone. As a result, budget permitting, I suggest that we offer two prizes to swimmers 13+: one iPad/iPhone in the form of a $500 apple store gift card for the swimmer who scores the most points in the swim season, and one iPad/iPhone in the form of a $500 apple store gift card for the swimmer who shows the greatest percentage improvement in times from the first meet to the final meet of the season. This will insure that both the skilled swimmer and the swimmer new to competitive swimming will both have an opportunity to win. We will need just 14 new swimmers for these prizes to pay for themselves. I’d like to get a consensus on this relatively soon so we can start the marketing campaign.  In order to make sure the young ones don’t feel left out, we can also offer smaller prize, due to the fact that we do not have issues with <12 recruitment. At this time, due to our Smaller budget surplus at the start of the year, we will need some early fundraising to make this incentive possible.
  3. In line with B, another great way to offer a substantial incentive to the senior swimmer 16+, would be the establishment of a scholarship. This would also motivate parents as well to nudge their kid onto the team. The scholarship, unlike the performance based rewards would be awarded for ‘sportsmanship and Espirit de Corps in Keeping with the Highest Traditions of the Stonehouse Splash Swim Team’, and could not be won more than once before the teen graduates. Not only would this open up an opportunity for another swimmer to win a prize who may not improve or score as much, but it would likely foster a little better behavior and support from the oldest swimmers, almost creating assistant coaches… This would also be a very easy fundraiser. A simple call campaign could probably easily raise large sums from what we learned in the Glen push was a very substantial pro-swim team contingent of the Millpond community, and the Glen I am sure will quickly ramp up behind the team this year as well. This could be marketed to the community as a booster club membership, which I will go into further depth later

We also MUST retain the swimmers we already have. With our numbers, attrition truly is not an option.  I will be writing an open letter to our 12 and up swimmers and make sure they KNOW that they are the heart and soul of this team, that even if they don’t know it, they are role models to the younger kids. They need to know we appreciate them and just like they saw this season, we need them to stay with the team for us to continue to improve. If you see one of our rising team teens from last year, please echo this sentiment and let them know they are a valued and important part of our team.

Achievement:

This is another area where I think we do a pretty decent job. Our ribbon rewards, heat winner awards and end of season awards really get the kids attention and we should do everything we can to keep that ball rolling. Coach Emily also did a great job keeping track of and recognizing best times at the beginning of practice. To build on it would be great after four seasons to be able to establish some team records on a nicely done records display board…would love to work with someone with some decent woodworking skills and tools to create that and hang poolside to give some of the kids something to shoot for.

Coaching:

Overall, I think we were fortunate to find two primary coaches with substantial head coaching experience. Were they perfect? Nobody is perfect. We will however be losing one of them, as Coach Emily has moved out of state. We are looking to retain Coach Hannah, either as the primary assistant coach again, or even as the Head Coach. We are looking also at bringing other candidates in for interviews, including a male coach that the boys can relate to as well.

I do think it was a great starting season though for Coach Hannah and something with enough expectations set that can flourish and grow.  The swim team board and I will be giving careful thought to next years coaching, and we will be soliciting opinions from all of you on this before we make a decision, but in my humble opinion, we would be foolish to completely change coaches after one year, and I think Coach Hannah earned her way back to another season this year if she is so inclined.

Fundraising:

In order to pay for a lot of the elements and initiatives, we will have to hope for a better turnout for our golf tournament, and will also need to find some additional sources of income aside from registration fees.  I am fully open to any suggestions in this regard but I do have a few of my own, and I’d love to hear inputs as to additional ways we can potentially raise some money:

  • Advertising during meets: I have seen at Windsor Forest where businesses have hung vinyl banners on the pool fencing. This could certainly work for full season contracts to have banners hung on the chimney area, and on the pump house as well as around the patio area just for meets.
  • Booster Club: A booster club has many functions, and one of the biggest is to raise money. There are many times when you ask for money for a cause…it may be a walk-a-thon, a car wash, or selling cookies, but for some  reason, asking someone to join a booster club gets them to open their wallets like few others do. I think it is because when the donor gives money, they re not just giving money, they are becoming a part of something, part of the team in essence. We will will be starting  this up pretty soon, both as an venue to collect Glen regsitration dues, as well as a way in which to formalize positions that Glen parents can fill and be involved in the main functions of the team without being part of a Millpond Commitee. Once established, we can start a spring fundraising drive that will culminate in the golf tournament. The two will go hand in hand, because if someone who’s a swim team proponent, but cannot attend the tournament, they will more than likely contribute to the booster club instead.  We can also discount admission fees to the tournament for Stonehouse Splash Boosters as well. I will go into the Booster Club concept much more extensively later.
  • Golf Tournament: this has been, and presumably will be the most substantial  source of income the team receives. The fundraising chair along with the concessions chair and the swim board jointly coordinate and execute the golf tournament, but it really is an all hands effort. Our goal should be that every family fields a foursome of themselves and three other people from outside the community, or finds four like kind donations in the same amount. The only thing I’d like to try to emphasize on this year’s tournament is to try and boost corporate sponsorships. We may very likely split the tournament from the after party this year as well in an effort to start the tourney earlier and control the expenditure and plannin of the party.
  • Oktoberfest food distribution: the fall festival would be a great place to show off what we did the previous season in a table display set up where we could sell some festival inspired food, maybe a lot of which baked by the team that we could sell to raise money for the team.
  • Team Spirit Nights: we have already found out that Bounce House, Anna’s Brick Oven Pizza, Chick-fil-a and other organizations have Spirit Night fundraising events that we could take anywhere from 15-50% of the team members out of pocket expenditure back to the team, for doing things off season your kids already do and with a group of other kids they already know. This could be promoted as a ‘Shopping Day away from the kids” or “Mom and Dad’s Night out” type event that would give the parents the chance to drop their kids somewhere supervised by someone they know so they can go do X-mas shopping or catch a date night movie.

Again I am open to suggestions, but if you have a great idea, I can say with relative certainty that you will be appointed to be the lead on that fundraising effort you are suggesting. We will of course try and get you as much help as we can, but there are only so many of us, and we all have lots going on.

Booster Club:

The idea of a booster club came to me when I started perusing a lot of the club teams around the country curious as to how they did business. A lot of the large organizations separated their support and volunteer components as well as fundraising efforts into a separate organization that operates independently of the team leadership and coaches, allowing them to just concentrate on preparing the team for meets. Although we are not a club team, many of the reasons to have a booster team do apply to and would benefit us. The Booster club can:

  1. Serve as the primary agent in fundraising efforts.
  2. Recruit additional volunteers as booster club supporters or simply collect money from them to show support for the team.
  3. Can serve as a place for Glen parents to concentrate their support vehicle, in that due to the swim board being a committee of the Association Board, Glen parents cannot serve on the swim commitee’s board.
  4. Collect dues from the Glen families without endangering our association being construed as engaged in commerce by the USDOJ, which would put the Millpond pool in jeopardy of being deemed a place of public accommodation with respect to ADA, where compliance could require significant expenditure by our board to avoid legal action.
  5. Initiate the scholarship fund listed above, and any other awards we wanted to add.
  6. Run additional events in the Glen to fuel visibility there, such as the Cookies with Santa event

Membership to the Booster Club would be open to all Stonehouse residents, Millpond and Glen alike and any future developments as well. From a fundraising and volunteer perspective, it could also tap into the pool of support that unearthed itself during the Glen fight. The booster memberships could be set up with tiers for contribution level- $25 for Splash Supporter $50 for Splash Benefactor, $100 for Splash Patron and Splash Circle of Excellence for Donations of $500 or more. The raised funds would be linked to the scholarship drive primarily, but surpluses could be used to buy new swim aids such as flippers or new blocks . If we set up the boosters properly, the contributions could be tax deductible as well.

I know this was a pretty comprehensive vision statement and introduction to what I as your new President would like to accomplish, and I thank you for patiently reading through it. It is aggressive, and a lot of what I  have laid out here may take some time to accomplish, but I am a firm believer of clearly stating a set of accomplish able goals and then working hard to bring them to fruition.

As always, my email inbox is always open. I will be getting a Splash oriented email address soon, but until I do, any of you can shoot me a message to stonehousesplashswimteam@gmail.com.

Thanks again for your continued support to them team, and I look forward to seeing most of you in our pre-registration event if not sooner.

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