Sport Club Member Training

May 12, 2011

Bob Gough
Aquatics & Sport Club Coordinator
Campus Recreation
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Sport Club professionals spend hours developing and writing policy manuals with the hope that club members read and understand each concept. We know through experience that this is seldom the case. What can we do to help reinforce the messages our club officers need to know? Member training can be part of the solution to this problem.
The Sport Club program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) has experienced growth each of the last seven years. The Sport Club Council (SCC) meeting was a great opportunity to include training topics – when the total number of clubs were smaller. When we reached the 20 Sport Clubs mark, the Sport Club Council meetings were taking 2 hours, and we realized that the Sport Club Council meeting was no longer the best place to train our club officers.

We began researching training programs from other sport club programs, new member orientation programs for fraternity and sorority programs, and the employee training program from the UNCW Discover Outdoor program. The process lead to the development of a weekly one-hour sport club member training program we named the ‘Sport Club Management Series’.

The program is designed to cover the essential information every club officer needs to know in order to be successful, with the safety of the club members being our first priority. Some sessions are offered each semester while others are rotated from year to year. The topics chosen are based on requests from club officers, observations from the sport club office, and innovative ideas we have picked up from colleagues, with permission of course!

We seek out expertise from within our department and from around campus. We have invited guest speakers from Campus Activities and Involvement, the Career Center, the Center for Leadership Education and Service, Health Promotions, the Accounting Department, the Marketing Department, the Student Affairs Diversity Committee, the Substance Abuse Resources Center, and the Information and Technology Department. Reaching out across campus helps raise awareness of the Sport Club Council and helps reinforce a positive perception of sport clubs. Additionally, when club members hear a consistent message from multiple sources it gives credibility to the process.

When information is shared with multiple club members it creates checks and balances as well as decreasing the chances that a policy is forgotten or worse, ignored. To attract club members to the sessions we created a financial incentive as well as an opportunity for public recognition. Clubs are credited with one budget point when represented at a session. Club members that attend at least ten sessions a semester (fall and/or spring) are awarded a “Certification of Completion” signed, dated and presented by the Sport Club Council President and the Director of Campus Recreation. Additionally these club members earns their club five additional “bonus” budget points. At the conclusion of the spring semester, the budgets points translate into money for the next school year. There is no limit to the number of club members that can attend the sessions. One of our clubs caught on to this concept early and had three members complete ten sessions in the fall AND the spring semester earning their club thirty “bonus” budget points. That equated to an extra $280 for that club. Last year we averaged fifteen club members at each session, while this year we have averaged thirty participants.

Training programs have included the following topics:
You are UNCW & the SCC Manual review
An orientation to Sport Club policies and procedures.
Risk Management
We create a common definition, provide a description or the risk matrix and have a discussion about risk assessment, prevention, and mitigation. We use sport club case studies from around the country and discuss issues related to club reputation and perception on and off campus.
Developing an EAP
Follows the Risk Management session. This session is a workshop wherein club members are given an example of an EAP and asked to customize it based on a real life example from their club activity. This session generates a lot of questions and good discussion as our clubs are faced with situations on and off campus as well as on land and in, on and around water.
Alcohol and Gender issues in Sports and the Media
Presented by our Violence Prevention & Relationship Education office. This session is one of the most popular. Examples from print, radio and tv are presented followed by an
assessment of each example. The underlining messages are brought to the fore by the facilitator. Many club members are amazed at the subtle messages that surround them every day.
What does it mean to be a “good sport?” We ask the club members for examples of positive and negative experiences they have had in sport. We discuss how those experiences
impacted their perception of themselves, their opponents and fans. We make a connection between good sportsmanship and reduced negative incidents, including violence.
Careers in Sports and Recreation
The Career Center introduces our club members to the numerous job opportunities related to Sports. They are intentional about making the connection between the sport club
experience and marketable skills.
How do I do that? How to Travel
This student-lead session covers all the necessary policies and procedures our clubs must know in order to travel. Critical information related to “best practices” is also covered.
The discussion includes tips about who should drive, the need for auto insurance, safe routes to and from the destination and appropriate times of day and night to travel. We cover policies related to pre-tip meetings, the need for vehicle inspection and safe driving records .
A large group discussion which challenges club members with ethical dilemmas they may confront as students and club officers. The search for answers becomes more difficult and controversial with every point and counter point introduced by others in the group, or if necessary the facilitator.

Successful administration of Sport Clubs does not just happen. It is a process and one that is on-going. Administrators have to balance the need to get the information to the club members while attempting to be as efficient as possible. The Sport Club Management Series is our attempt to meet those needs.

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