Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
I’m lucky to have served on my kids’ swim team as a board member when it was a parent-governed club. We are even luckier now to have a coach-owned team! But that’s another story. I’ve worked with amazing board members, but there were a few awful ones, too.
Here are my ideas of how to be a better board member:
Take off your parent hat. When you join the board, you have to look out for the team as a whole. Not your swimmer. If you are only concerned about your kid, you probably shouldn’t be on the board.
Get educated. We had a requirement for all board members to attend a USA Swimming business management class. They were offered once a year a few hours away. Now, they are offered online, too.
Stay out of the wet issues. That’s the coach’s area. Board members need to define exactly what their role is and stick to it. It’s usually in the “dry” areas, like business and finance. A lot of teams have their coach as a board member or the chief executive. Board members add support where the coach needs their help.
Communicate. It’s key for board members to communicate with the entire team. One of our former coaches assigned board members as the “stupid question parent” or “team mom or dad” for each group. We were responsible for calling and getting word out when there was a meet coming up, pool closure, etc. We were available for any questions and mentored new parents.
Keep private information confidential. As a board member, you’ll be privy to a lot of information that is not up for discussion. You’ll know who is behind on their bills and who’s getting divorced. I’ll never forget when we had a coach resign. He told the board to keep it quiet until he met with his swimmers. On the drive home from that meeting, I got a call from a parent who had heard the head coach had quit! It took less than 10 minutes for the news to spread because a board member talked.
What are your tips for better board members?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog: http://bleuwater.me/.