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:
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
(Name of Organization)
Name of Person Submitting:
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...
Section 2 The duties of the officers shall be:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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