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How to Start a Youth Club

Club Benefits Info


Coaches Background Check



How to Organize a USATF Youth Club


Starting a successful Youth Running and Track & Field Program requires considerable front-end planning and coordination. However, the efforts to be invested in this process will produce a multitude of dividends. Most importantly, youth will want to participate and you will be providing young people with an opportunity to experience the fun, excitement and benefits of athletics and running.

The success of this effort requires a well-organized program which 1) considers the special needs and interests of young athletes, and 2) is perceived as a fun activity by the participants. New club programs should be established as an introductory experience for children with emphasis on individual attention, recognition of personal gains and gentle encouragement provided by program coaches. Athletes involved in such a program will want to do their best, and will excel once they are provided opportunities to recognize their potential and identify their interests.

The Snake River Association of USA Track and Field encourages new and developing youth clubs to feature "open" registration and equal opportunities for all participants. Youth program implementation for the purposes of intense training and promotion of' championship teams are discouraged for new clubs and could be detrimental to the positive development of young athletes. Some of the new athletes will want to compete at a higher level, but that should not be because the club program and the club coaches promote it.

Who Can Organize A Youth Club

Anyone can start a Youth Track Club! You do not have to be a school coach or, necessarily have any coaching experience and you do not have to be affiliated with an established organization. A coaching background and some connection with a School, Park District or YMCA will help you get started on the right track; but USATF Snake River does not require any prior experience or group affiliation.

How To Get Started

Generally, organizers may consider two directions in establishing a club. The first involves becoming organized as an autonomous, free standing nonprofit group established under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The second direction involves becoming affiliated as a component of an existing youth serving community based organization.

It is recognized that the actual strategies to begin a "copy-cat" program may vary in different communities according to local conditions such as the availability of a municipal recreation department, or lack of an established youth-serving agency such as the YMCA. In some areas, it may be necessary to establish the track & field club as an independent entity, and to become incorporated as a nonprofit organization. While this process may require additional work on the part of the organizers, the autonomy it affords can yield benefits regarding fund raising, and the freedom to proceed without restrictions imposed by the bylaws of a "parent" organization. On the other hand, becoming a component part of an existing agency offers benefits such as immediate name recognition and access to potential in-kind support of the parent group.

Furthermore, while the procedural steps to establish a school-based program may be similar, the model described here is for a club program outside of the traditional school day.

First and foremost is that you call together a small group of parents who share your interests and concerns. This "core group" should not exceed six persons, since experience has proven that larger groups are often less effective in decision making. From this "core group" you can work to build a Youth Track & Field club or organization. The following steps are suggestions on how to get started:

  1. Organize a working staff, or organizing committee.
  2. Create a Constitution or By Laws containing information concerning purpose, philosophy, membership, offices, etceteras. (President, VP, Secretary, and Treasurer)
  3. Decide on a club name.
  4. Make an application with USATF.
  5. Find a place to meet comfortably.
  6. Make a flyer and post it EVERYWHERE kids are. Especially, obviously, at local tracks and schools.
  7. Put an ad in the paper advertising your club and it's intentions.
  8. Establish a temporary headquarters and mailing address so that interested parties will know where to go to join your club. Publicize this location as much as possible in your preliminary announcements.
  9. Establish a working relationship with the local high school track coach to use their facility.
  10. Establish practice and meet schedules.

This may take some time. But work at it. Set attainable goals and make sure you complete them. It will all gel quicker than you think


Sample Constitution

(Name of Organization)

Date Submitted:

Name of Person Submitting:

Contact Person:

Article I. Name and Purpose

Section 1 This organization shall be known as... (name of organization)

Section 2 The purpose(s) of this organization will be...

Article II. Membership

Section 1 Membership is open to..regardless of race, color, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or religion

Section 2 Duties of the members

Article III. Officers and Duties

Section 1 The elective officers of this organization shall be the...


Vice President:



Section 2 The duties of the officers shall be:


Vice President:



Section 3 Method of election

Article IV. Finances/Budget

Article V. Amending Constitutions and By-laws

Section 1 Method of amending

Article VI. Meetings

Section 1 The organization shall determine what its meeting requirements are. (i.e., weekly, bimonthly)

Section 2 What the general format for the meeting should be

Article VII. Any special articles that are needed by the organization


Ideas for effective meeting management:

  1. SET A REGULAR MEETING TIME AND PLACE. - Make good use of the meeting time. If you have to call a special meeting, notify every member as soon as possible.
  2. PLAN A DEFINITE AGENDA FOR EVERY MEETING. - Think through every meeting in advance and keep the members focused on the subjects at hand.
  3. DELEGATION/CLUB MEMBERS DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES. - Create a team spirit among the members in order to have a successful organization.
  4. BE FLEXIBLE IN THE PRESENTATION OF IDEAS - Encourage members to be creative and express their ideas. Stimulate discussion and let them reach a consensus on planning events, solving possible problems, and working as a team.
  5. MAKE DEFINITE ASSIGNMENTS. - Divide the work and give definite assignments while giving help and encouragement. Check with the members to whom you have delegated responsibilities between meetings to check on progress in order to avoid trouble in planning and execution of tasks.
  6. GO EASY ON VITAMIN "I". - By dividing the work among yourself and the committee/club members, you eliminate a major part of the burden from your own shoulders.
  7. KEEP YOUR BUDGET UP TO DATE. - Keep accurate books on the financial status of your committee/club.
  8. KEEP A BINDER OF MATERIALS. - Clip and keep anything of interest to your committee/club.
  9. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION. - If your committee/club does a good job, your committee/club members deserve some kind of reward. A good chair will learn to say "thanks" in as many ways as possible. A pat on the back, recognition in meetings, a short note, or a sincere "thank you for helping" can do a lot toward building morale.

What USATF Snake River Does Require

First of all, you need to complete a USATF Organization/Club Membership Form ($40.00 per calendar year), listing at least 2-3 club officers and giving a brief description of the club's purpose.

USATF Snake River club membership is required for team competition in cross-country and for relay-team competition in track & field. Club membership is also required to host youth track or cross-country events that appear on the official USATF Snake River schedule of events.

Athlete Membership

It is possible to enroll athletes in your club from anywhere in the Snake River Association (even from neighboring states under certain conditions) so long as they are not already members of other USATF Snake River clubs. However, USATF Snake River does not encourage or support this kind of aggressive club recruitment.

NOTE: Once an athlete lists a club on his membership card application form, he/she is eligible to join another club only after 90 days of unattached status. Note, too, that athletes are not required to be members of clubs to compete as unattached athletes in USATF events.

USATF Snake River Club Benefits

Club membership gives you a voice in USA'I'F Snake River governance, both in general meetings and or, the Youth Executive Committee.

NOTE: Club members who are registered USATF athletes are automatically covered by USATF's accident/injury insurance: (1) while attending club practices SCHEDULED with USATF by the coach; and(2) while attending and competing in or traveling to and from Club practices and USATF SANCTIONED events.


Club Organization

The best sources of information for organizing and sustaining a youth track club are the existing USATF Snake River youth track clubs. USATF Snake River will provide you with the club contacts in your area of the state.

Coaching Education

USATF conducts a formal track & field coaching education program. The Coaching Education Committee of USA Track & Field provides ongoing educational opportunities for all levels of coaches from the grassroots to the elite level. Its mission is to incorporate the latest research produced by the Sports Science and Medicine Committee, as well as independent research sources, into understandable curricula.

NOTE: USATF Snake River hosts periodic sessions of the USATF National Coaching Education School program. Club head coaches are encouraged to enroll in the Coaching Education "Level l" school; or the Coaching Education "Development Program", which is the minimum recommendation for all youth coaches.


Club Benefits Info

Organization membership is open to track clubs, running clubs, civic and fraternal organizations, and event committees, among others. Organization Memberships are on a yearly basis, and expire on December 31 of the application year. The annual fee for an organization's membership is $50.00 (at the start of the calendar year).

As an organization with membership in USATF you receive: eligibility to compete as a team in USATF events -an Organization Membership Certificate -a copy of the current USATF Directory -a copy of current USATF Competition Rules for Athletics -a subscription to The USA Track & Field Record -Sanctioning privileges, travel grants.

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