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Tag Archive for fund raising

Coaching Log – July 7, 2017

This is the first entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2017-18 season.

Anyone who thinks college volleyball coaches have Summers off has no idea! This is a particularly intense off-season for me. I’m the lead on all the stuff for the Argentina trip. On top of that, the head coach has mostly been out of pocket the last few weeks. First she was off getting married. Then last week she was running our camps. Now she is away for her honeymoon.

Let’s just say it’s been an intense period.

Here’s what’s been going on.

Recruiting

Not a lot going on here in terms of active recruiting. We are, of course, getting a steady stream of prospect emails to evaluate. We’re just not doing anything off-campus at this stage. We have offers out to four 2018 prospects. One was recently accepted, so the Class of 2022 is already starting to form! Hopefully, we’ll get more commitments in the weeks ahead.

Freshman stuff

There’s always a bunch of stuff for incoming freshmen – and transfers – to do. They have to make sure everything is submitted to the NCAA Eligibility Center. There is Orientation to attend and class registration to do. In our case, most of them will take Summer II classes as a jump start. Doing so gets them on campus early and allows them to work with our strength coach. That’s alongside the other players who are in the area over the Summer, helping them integrate.

Buenos Aires planning

This has been a huge source of stress and sleepless nights!

The biggest issue is that we’ve had to rapidly accelerate our fundraising efforts because of organizational bureaucratic requirements. We thought we had some time, but in order to get the official travel authorization we have to show sufficient funds in our account. That’s meant a scramble to get that lined up in a matter of days rather than weeks. It will happen, but not without some contortions.

We’ve also been trying to work through a contract thing with Boca Juniors, who will host us for our practice sessions. They sent us a contract to sign, which I did. The university, however, needs Boca to sign an addendum. Unfortunately, the people at the club with the authority to sign that addendum are not present, and won’t be until July 16th. Reaching the point of understanding the delay on their end was crazy. Our contact planning things for us is currently on vacation in Europe, so he’s been long-distance middle man. It took having a Spanish speaker here talk to someone at Boca to finally understand what is holding things up.

Of course the organization of things in Buenos Aires isn’t all that is going on. Travel preparations are underway. That means things like passports and immunizations and getting the ticketing done. Plenty of details to finalize on our end as well.

Speaking Event

I mentioned in my last entry that we arranged for 5-time Olympian Danielle Scott to come speak on campus. Here is the graphic we had developed.

That was meant to be a major part of our fundraising efforts, but now it’s looking less important from that perspective. Not that we don’t plan on raising money from it. We definitely do. It’s just that the accelerated fundraising need I mentioned before takes some of that pressure of this event. We can now angle it to be at least as much about community engagement.

As you can see, it’s only a few weeks until the event. That means on top of all the stuff for the Buenos Aires trip, I have organization of this to do as well. We’re doing the event in our coliseum, so I’ve had to arrange for that to be set up. We need food, which means catering. Of course we need bodies to fill all the seats. We’re aiming for 300+, so this is no small production.

Other stuff

We found out as we started our camp that the lines for the courts in our main gym were re-done a little off. The main central court is fine, but we have a 2-court configuration we use for practice and when we’re running tournaments. The court ended up about 2 inches too wide. The folks who redid the floor seem to have used the marker as the inside edge of the sideline rather than the outside edge. Ooops!

I’m not sure if that can be repaired straight away or if we’re just going to have to use tape until it can get fixed later.

Coaching Log – June 12, 2017

This is the first entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2017-18 season. The log is something I started doing back in 2013. It was part of the requirements for my Volleyball England Level 3 certification, and I’ve kept it up ever since. I like how keeping the log allows me to put into words the stuff I’m thinking about over the course of the year. Hopefully, it’s also something useful for readers. Maybe you can gain some insights into coaching at the NCAA Division II level – or just college coaching in general.

New-look court

First thing I should say is the floor of our gym has been redone.

While it certainly looks sharp, and the new central logo is and improvement over the last, I can’t help be disappointed at how basketball clearly dominates volleyball. Same old story, eh?

The assistant women’s basketball coach actually asked me at one point what it would take to make our secondary gym the main one for volleyball. It’s an interesting idea, but not realistic, unfortunately. It lacks the proper dimensions for us to run two full courts for practice – or competition. Just not enough service area when we go with two. Ceiling is too low as well.

Anyway, on with the real stuff.

The team

Just last week we finalized our 2017 roster. After Spring semester grades came out we had to let one player go, one of our liberos from last season. She just wasn’t keeping to the academic standards required. Another player was unsure if she was going to continue because of concerns about the time commitment. Last week she confirmed she’s going to stick it out.

We also had a big addition. I mean that literally and figuratively.

We spent a lot of time during the Spring trying to find an experienced right side player. We have a freshman lefty coming in, but she’s returning from an ACL injury suffered last Summer. As a result, we can’t know for sure what she’s going to bring to the table. One of last year’s starting OHs can play on the right. Our other starting OH is a big question mark because of injury issues, though, and behind them will be a sophomore and a couple incoming freshmen. So we wanted to add another attacking option. Ideally, that would be a MB/OPP type player as we only have three middles on the books. We did look at some OHs as well, however.

What we ended up with is a 6’4″ lefty OPP who played MB in high school. She’s an interesting story. She’s a local who was recruited to a Division I school in Florida. Things didn’t work out for her, though. She was a medical red shirt as a freshman, then barely played as a sophomore. That was the 2015 season. She left school after that year and came back to town. She decided in the Spring to attend MSU, and we found out through the volleyball grapevine. You don’t get 6’4″ lefties walking through the door everyday, so we jumped at the chance to bring her into the team.

It wasn’t easy, though. She had some serious doubts. Seems like her prior college experience left her feeling less than enthusiastic about combining athletics and academics. We really had to demonstrate how much we are committed to our players doing well in their classes and how we’d support her in doing so. Apparently, we did a good job of it!

Of course, she hasn’t played any meaningful volleyball in a while. On top of that, she can’t start training with us a week in because of a previously scheduled family trip. That means she may take a while to get where she’s fully contributing. Still, you can’t teach size. Just having her block to go against in practice can’t help but make our hitters better.

So the final roster count for the new season is 17, up a couple from last year. We’ll have 9 returning players, 3 transfers, and 5 freshmen.

Recruiting

We haven’t done any additional recruiting trips. Right now we have some offers out to 2018 prospects. We’ll see how that falls out in the weeks to come.

Buenos Aires planning

It’s been a very active few weeks setting things up for the trip to Argentina. Lots of details to sort out, like passports and immunizations. I’ve been in regular contact with the guy in B.A. making the arrangements. Most of it is settled, but we have to wait a bit longer to finalize our competition schedule. We can’t do that until the Argentine club’s get their league schedules, which is probably in July. Right now we’re looking at playing maybe three of them. We could also play some U19 national team competition as well.

Of course I’ll provide the full rundown once everything is settled.

Fundraising and other support

The fundraising effort for the trip is ongoing. Last week we confirmed a speaking event for July 29th. The speaker is going to be 5-time Olympian Danielle Scott. Now we must sort out all the logistics and generate the revenue. In the latter case, that means selling tables and trying to get donations and/or sponsors to underwrite the cost. We hope to net $15-$20k.

We also have permission to run a raffle. The planned prize will be a sizeable travel voucher. The original thought was to raffle off places on our trip, but the time frame is too short. Instead, it will just be a general gift certificate for use whenever. We will probably do the drawing our first home weekend, so there’s time to sell tickets once school starts. That means at least some of the money comes in after the trip, but that’s fine. A lot of the payments will be by credit card anyway.

Then there’s the direct donations. We’ve received several thousand that way, most of which has been matched through our Development office. We also raised a bit through our May clinic series.

The head coach and I met with our VP of student affairs, who’s looking into ways we can get some on-campus support. We can’t plan on a great deal given the news of recent budget cuts, but every bit helps. We also talked about the team and the trip at a local Rotary Club meeting last week.

Other fun stuff

College coaching isn’t all glamorous stuff like planning trips and raising money. We also get to do things like clean out closets and organize our office. It’s amazing how much junk can accumulate over time. There was a department inventory last week. In preparing for it we found out we have four old cameras, only one of which is actually part of the inventory!

Coaching Log – May 8, 2017

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2016-17.

Classes are now over. The players are going through finals this week, then the 2016-17 school year will be over. We did not do any direct work with the team last week as that is not allowed under NCAA rules. That doesn’t mean we weren’t busy, though!

The head coach finally came back to work in limited fashion last week. Her doctor gave her a partial clearance. No physical work, but she can at least now spend time on campus. Good timing since by the time you read this I may have already left for my trip.

Recruiting

We had a couple of recruit visits during the week. Unfortunately, with the team done for the semester, they could not workout with the players. As a result, these were basically campus and facilities tours and meet with the coach type visits.

I also did my final off-campus recruiting trip on Saturday to the North Texas regional Junior Nationals bid tournament. Mainly it was getting one last look at players this club season, though there were a couple new ones on the list.

Fund-raising

The biggest thing I did last week was fund-raising work for our Argentina trip. I attended the weekly meeting of the a local Rotary Club as a precursor to speaking with them in a few weeks about what we’re doing. I also connected with the city’s mayor to see if we could enlist his help. He had the idea to do a speaker-based event. That got us thinking about who from the volleyball community has a high enough profile or credential to not just attract volleyball people, but non-volleyball folks as well.

We also started our month-long clinic series. It runs three evenings per week for four weeks. While that is open to kids from latter elementary school through high school, we find that it draws mainly middle school aged players. The revenue will go toward the trip fund-raising. I don’t think we’ve so far had much cross-over to the paid clinic from the free one we did that I mentioned in my last update, but that’s not a major surprise.

That’s it for 2016-17!

Since the 2016-17 school year is now over, this is the last of my log entries for this year. When I return from Europe, I’ll start a new log for 2017-18.

Planning an exciting volleyball team trip

If you’ve read my volleyball coaching log entries for this year you’ll know one of the things I’ve been working on at Midwestern State University (MSU) is a volleyball team trip to Argentina. Specifically, we are planning to go to Buenos Aires in August.

This is a trip I thought about almost from the start of my time here. MSU Volleyball has never done a foreign trip. It’s a big thing to propose, particularly because of the cost. For that reason, I put forward the idea to use my contacts rather than to do a traditional “tour”.

Not the usual foreign tour

Actually, there were a couple of reasons not to go the normal route of working with a company. Expected cost savings was one of them. Importantly, though, we also did not want to follow the standard structure of many tours. Most tours involve a lot of traveling around – moving from city to city. Volleyball sometimes only seems to be a minor consideration. This is because you mainly hear about NCAA Division I teams going on tour, and that means doing it in the off-season. For example, they go during Spring Break.

At MSU we’re in Division II where the rules are a bit different. In Division I they are not allowed to do a foreign tour within I believe 30 days prior to the start of preseason. This is not the case in Division II. As a result, we can do our trip in August. The timing, though, has to fit in with Summer school because some of our players will take classes. The second Summer term ends August 10th, so we’ve planned to leave on the trip August 12th. That actually means doing the trip during part of our preseason, which officially starts on about August 15th.

Trip timing

It may sound a bit strange to do a foreign trip during preseason, but stay with me.

The NCAA rules allow a team 10 days of training prior to going on a foreign trip. That means we can actually start our preseason preparations on about August 1st. Seeing the method to our madness here?

With another team – say one with a lot of experienced players – this might not be something we’d want to do. In our case, however, we have a bunch of new players coming in to the team for the Fall – 5 freshmen and a transfer. Some of them are candidates to make the starting team. We are also in the process of building a strong team culture. The extra time together this trip creates gives us a chance to really integrate all these players, both into the program and into playing together.

This scheduling of our trip overlapping preseason mandates another consideration. I mentioned that most tours seem to do a lot of traveling. We don’t want that for our own trip. We basically want a training camp – trip where volleyball will feature heavily. Obviously, we want to do lots of cultural stuff as well, but practice and competition needs to take a lead role.

Why Buenos Aires

All of this leads to a decision to make a trip where we can stay in one place – not travel all the time. There is also the question of time zone changes as well as there being opportunities to play decent competition. Buenos Aires ticks all the boxes. While the travel length is similar as a trip to Europe, it’s only three time zones. It’s a big city, with plenty to do. There’s lots of volleyball, and they will not be in Summer holiday while we’re there like many European clubs would be in August. It will be winter there, which while not particularly cold will be a nice break from the Texas heat. Plus, I have contacts from there.

Getting it done

So at this point we’re in the planning phase. That means a couple of things.

First of all, we’ve already made arrangements for group travel. That process was basically the commitment to doing the trip as we needed to put down a 10% deposit. Travel, as you might expect, is a big part of the cost of the trip. It will probably turn out to be about 60% when all is said and done.

Second, thanks to one of my coaching connects we have someone on the ground in Buenos Aires working on the details for us. He’s heavily connected in the volleyball world down there, but he’s also helping to arrange transportation and a place to stay. I’ve been having exchanges with him about our needs and expectations, which aren’t too major.

Fund raising

Third, and probably most important, is the fund raising. We figured on a total cost of $65,000 for the trip, which is a big chunk of money. Our final costs will probably come in a bit under that because we budgeted for a slightly larger travel party than we expect to take. Still, the price tag will be substantial.

We already have some money raised. We hosted a bunch of high school matches in our facility at the start of last season, which brought in a decent amount of money. That is something we already plan to repeat – potentially even bigger. Unfortunately, that happens right before our trip, making budgeting a little trickier. We’re also running a series of clinics for young kids in May which will bring in another chunk of money, and there are some other things in the works.

The trouble is while these fund raising events do bring in money, the amounts won’t be anywhere near enough to cover the trip. We need donations, or potentially sponsorships for the bulk of the funding. We’ve set up a page on the university’s Development site (look for MSU Volleyball – Buenos Aires Trip in the list).

Not going with GoFundMe

We considered something like GoFundMe, but went this route for a couple of reasons. First, GoFundMe charges 5% plus the credit card processing fee. The university doesn’t charge us anything. Second, money donated through the Development website gets credited to our account directly without us having to do anything.

Third, and most meaningfully, there’s the potential for donation matching. We were told of a pot of money available to match contributions from people who are not prior donors. There isn’t a ton left, and it’s not just dedicated to us, but any amount we can get helps us move in the direction of our goal. Needless to say, as soon as our page was ready on the site we started encouraging donations to get that matching going in our favor.

Going after bigger fish

Alongside the individual donation side of things, we’re exploring bigger potential sources. This includes the likes of local businesses, and perhaps the university itself. We met with someone the other day who suggested we really pitch the trip from the perspective of spreading the university brand overseas. He saw that as a way to motivate some internal funding. I will also possibly meet with members of the local Lion’s club to talk about what we’re doing. Our Athletic Director indicated his willingness to set up a sponsorship arrangement with businesses who contribute to the trip, which could be useful.

Onward and upward!

Thoughts, suggestions, etc.?

If you have any recommendations for me, I’m happy to hear them. They could be to do with managing the trip, or about fund raising. If you have organized a trip, or managed a large fund raising campaign, your thoughts and experience are very welcome. Just leave a comment below or contact me directly.