June 15, 2022 Board Update
by USA Racquetball
USAR BOARD OF DIRECTORS -- RECENT CHANGES
At the Board’s Annual Meeting in College Station, the makeup of the Board underwent scheduled changes. A new Board member joined as an athlete representative, and new officers emerged from the election held in the special reconvened meeting of the Board directly after adjournment of the Annual Meeting.
- President Dan Whitley, Secretary Cheryl Kirk, and Board Member T. J. Baumbaugh have stepped away from the USAR Board of Directors for at least two years, per USAR Bylaws Article VII that stipulates term limits.
- Jake Bredenbeck took his seat as the fourth Athlete Representative on the Board, joining Michelle De La Rosa, Danielle Maddux, and Charlie Pratt. Jake was elected to the post by his elite athlete peers (those who have qualified for the U.S. Team in the last 10 years). This fourth position was added to reflect the USOPC’s Bylaws that now require 33.3% athlete representation on all National Governing Body Boards of Directors and Designated Committees.
- All officer terms (president, vice president, secretary, treasurer) expired as of the end of the Annual Meeting. Take a trip to the USA Racquetball website soon, https://www.teamusa.org/usa-racquetball/leadership/board-of-directors, to view Board members’ photos and profiles. Just click on each photo to see the profile, and click on the name to send an email.
- The newly appointed Board Officers are Stewart Solomon (President); Terry Rogers (Vice President); Michelle De La Rosa (Secretary); and Steve Czarnecki (Treasurer). Charlie Pratt (USOPC AAC Representative) joins Michelle De La Rosa on the Executive Committee to meet 33.3% athlete representation requirements (see #2 above). Stewart Solomon’s first message as President directly follows.
A LETTER FROM STEWART SOLOMON, PRESIDENT, USA RACQUETBALL BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Greetings, Fellow Racquetball Enthusiasts,
At the recent national championship in College Station, I was honored to have been elected by the USA Racquetball Board of Directors to serve as President of the Board. I look forward to working with the Board, the staff, and the racquetball community as we look to recover from a debilitating couple of years that has impacted so many people and organizations across the world. For those that have continued to support USA Racquetball, I thank you.
Like many of you out there, I started playing this great sport of ours as a teenager because of a parent. In my case it was my father. I was with my father on weekends, and on Sundays he played racquetball and brought me to the club. I started playing in his work league as the youngest competitor (and only junior). I didn’t discover the larger scope of state and national competitive racquetball until after college, and that’s where I started growing my racquetball family.
Family may be the most frequently used, non-racquetball term I hear used in the racquetball community. Every racquetball event is like a family reunion where a racquetball event happened to take place. And like any family, sometimes it takes a village to help the family to grow and develop. That is how I first got involved in a racquetball association, wanting to help the Pennsylvania state association in any way I could. Since then, I have offered myself up to serve any racquetball community in any capacity possible. From being on state Boards, to helping run tournament desks, to putting on tournaments of my own and bringing the LPRT to New England -- all of this was out of sheer passion to want to help grow Racquetball.
So if you, too, are looking to help and you aren’t sure how, it can be as easy as reaching out to your club management as someone who can give a free introduction to members of the club or become part of the USA Racquetball Instructor Program and teach on a larger scale. You can also reach out to friends, family, and co-workers to find one or two possible juniors to introduce to the sport. You can always look for volunteer opportunities at both local and national events since tournament directors are usually looking for help. These are just a handful of ways you can get involved as a member of the family to help grow the sport we love.
I look forward to connecting with many of you in the coming months and years to hear of your frustrations, successes, and ideas. We are the village that will take Racquetball forward to future generations!
USA RACQUETBALL BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANNUAL MEETING
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Live Meeting with Zoom -- College Station, Texas
Attending in person: 9
Attending via Zoom: 4
Additional attendee: Incoming Athlete Representative
Finance Update (Treasurer Steve Czarnecki)
Following worse than projected financial performance in the first quarter of 2021, the Finance Committee met multiple times between the April and May Board meetings to develop an updated forecast for 2022. The updated forecast included lesser than budgeted membership revenue and national championships net profit being less than budgeted. The forecast was driven by membership numbers that appear to have plateaued after recent increases following the downturn experienced during COVID and the related reduction in sanctioned events. The need to postpone National Doubles and combine it with National Singles, as well as less participation in the combined event than anticipated, also negatively impacted the forecast. In total, the current forecast for 2022 is for financial performance to fall short of the 2022 budget by more than $100,000. The Finance Committee recommended that USA Racquetball focus on increasing revenue in the areas of membership, championships, sponsorship, and charitable donations, as well as consider options for a business model that can operate in an environment of reduced revenue in the short and medium-term.
USOPC Sport Benefits Statement
President Dan Whitley provided a high-level overview of the 2021 Sport Benefits Statement, which highlighted the vital support USA Racquetball receives from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), both in direct financial support as well as value-in-kind provisions for athletes and/or the association.
Much of the 6+ hour Board meeting was targeted toward addressing critical topics that were supplemented by Staff materials/information and presented by Executive Director Mike Wedel under the following headlines:
Event Overview -- National Doubles & Singles Championships
Fundraising and Sponsorship (materials presented for Board’s support)
US OPEN and National Championships
Athlete testing/training opportunities unfolding to benefit U.S. Team Athletes
Membership -- fee structure; concentration on leagues; complexity vs. ease of use on the tournament management system
Staffing Plans -- Discussion on present challenges (workload) and future growth (staffing for strategic plan initiatives). This included how people with specific skill sets can assist the staff in the short term. Board members and others are willing and able to perform services such as donation tracking and thank you’s; calculating and administrating quarterly rebates to states; Serving Up the News newsletter production; etc. Also, committees perform valuable functions, e.g., scholarships, referee program, rules, rankings, coach/athlete delegations for international championships, women’s draws/admin for national championships.
Strategic Plan Discussions (led by Strategy Lead Laura Pesek, et al.)
Particular focus on Marketing/PR; Fundraising; US OPEN.
Stewart Solomon presented information on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the Board’s review and input. Laura Pesek led a discussion on how leaders in the sport can be leveraged to help ensure the future of Racquetball.
Discussion topics included Building/Preserving Courts; Developing Collegiate Programs; Fundraising (with Athlete Advisory Council [AAC] and elite athlete involvement to benefit both the U.S. Team and individual athletes); common objectives of committees (e.g., Fundraising/Finance; Fundraising/U.S. Team Committee); Marketing & PR; communication/collaboration with State Associations; tracking of KPI’s -- who generates, how tracked (e.g., red/yellow/green), possibility of automation; next steps for measures trending both successfully and unsuccessfully.
Steve Czarnecki and Mike Wedel, along with the rest of the Board, recognized the three departing Board members for their contributions: T. J. Baumbaugh, Cheryl Kirk, and Dan Whitley. Each provided parting comments of appreciation and support for the new Board about to convene.
Next Meeting: June 27, 2022 via Zoom
-- Adjourned --
We hope you are finding this newsletter feature informative. We welcome suggestions and/or questions to include in future updates. Please contact Stewart Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about the Staff’s activities, please contact USAR Executive Director Mike Wedel at email@example.com.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone!
USAR has taken a hit in membership, which is not unusual with so very many organizations dealing with hard times due to the pandemic. Now that so many indoor and outdoor events are scheduled for the coming months, whether or not you plan to compete soon vs. a few months down the road, please renew your membership now if it’s expired, or gift a friend or family member with a membership. With support from new or renewed memberships that amount to $5/month per player, USAR as the National Governing Body will be able to continue to provide ever-improving programs and competitive events for you and for everyone who values racquetball on the local, state, and national level. Please support your sport!