Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Report from USAS Convention - Club Development and Athlete Protection

I got on the plane in Alaska yesterday at 4:30p (EST) and landed this morning in Jacksonville at around 10:30a.  I think I squeezed in an hour of sleep on the flight, but suffice it to say, I am bushed!  I missed out on a couple of meetings that I would like to have attended, but I did get to go to a couple of very interesting committee meetings.

The first meeting was the Club Development Committee, chaired by a coach I respect a ton, Allison Beebe.  We got to see some interesting numbers, presented by Tom Avischious of USA Swimming, concerning membership retention, composition, etc.  My engineering juices go into overdrive whenever I see tables of statistics like that.  The committee then delved into coach's education.  The Online Coach's education webinars that USA Swimming has are very good, and we were let in on some statistics about there use.  The webinars have been seen around 7500 times.  Two thirds of those are watched after they have been archived on the USA Swimming website.

Then the meeting got interesting.  Whether or not coach's education should be mandatory.  The peanut gallery really started to pipe up on this issue.  What do the reader's of this blog think?  Should coaches be required to take ongoing education classes?  Should it be encouraged, but not required...perhaps setting up a recognition system?  Should we leave it alone?  I am against mandating continuing education, but I am for setting up some sort of recognition system.  What do you think?  There are some LSC's that sponsor coaches education.  Many clubs support coaches education.  What situation are you in?

USA Swimming's Deck Pass was unveiled to the committee.  I have already written about how cool I think it will be once the iphone/android apps are up and running.

After the Club Development Committee was done with the room, the Athlete Protection Committee came in.  There are a couple of folks on this committee that I have a lot of respect for as well; Margaret Hoelzer and Mary Liston are both folks I have had the pleasure to work with before.  The Chair, Jim Crampton, also seems like he is a great guy.  The meeting started with a bit of a teaser from Praesidium, the folks who are providing the online Athlete Protection Training.  There will be a full presentation tomorrow, but I have to say, I think this is going to end up being a good program.  I put that last statement in bold, because I have been publicly skeptical, on this blog, since it's announcement.  I think we should have started with this before letting the lawyers get a hold of the whole process.  The only negative thing about the program is that I heard someone say it is free.  That is not true.  Our volunteers and coaches may not be paying Praesidium directly, but I am sure that we (USA Swimming) are paying a pretty penny to Praesidium.

Having said my nice stuff, I have to say I have some reservations about some things that are coming down the pike from the Athlete Protection Committee.  There is going to be a push to require an Athlete Protection Officer and Athlete Protection Committee on every LSC board.  There is going to be a requirement to have all new officials go through the same pre-employment screening that newly hired coaches are now required to have:

  • Motor Vehicle Report
  • Education Verification 
  • Employment History Check/Reference Check
Furthermore, it is going to be recommended (code word for soon to be required) that new officials
  • get fingerprinted
  • go through a social media check
  • go through a Google search check
As painful as this is going to be for small/remote clubs (like the ones on Alaska), I think these are going to become the law of the land.  I predict a major reduction in the number of volunteers coming out to officiate.  This will be devastating for clubs that are so isolated and small, that it takes a majority of their parents just to field an officials crew.  This does not even bring into account the expense of the program.  It looks like we are looking at an increase in splash fees in our LSC.  Someone has to pay for the background checks, pre-volunteer screens, etc.

Tomorrow will be chock full of excitement!  I will be sure to give you all the run down.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. An athlete protection committee on every LSC board sounds like a good idea, but it would probably end up like the LSC board of review where members are tight and cover for each other!