Last week I reported on the environment of the USA Field Hockey Board of Directors meeting held two weeks ago in Orlando (the board room was vibrant and healthy). This week I wanted to cover some of the items that were discussed. Here they are in bullet point:
Strategy: for the past several years, USA Field Hockey has been working toward the development of a strategic plan. The long and the short of it all is that a draft plan has been created, but there was some concern relative to member input and actually making an effort to get a pulse of what our membership (and, potential members) want out of USA Field Hockey. A Strategic Task Force, to be chaired by Heather Lewis, has been put into place by the Board's chair. Plus, the executive director of USA Field Hockey will spend travel time over the next several months visiting regions and events throughout the USA, hosting USA Field Hockey Town Hall meetings and generally getting to know members and the various issues within the sport. In the meantime, the Strategic Task Force will be gathering data through various methodologies. Through direct contact by the executive director, and various survey tools used by the Strategic Task Force, we can grasp needs and directions. While it sounds arduous and complicated, in the end, it is likely that issues will boil down to basic concerns. I bet one will revolve around creating more opportunities to play ... throughout the nation ... not just in hotbed locales. This will be fun and will be of great value to USA Field Hockey. It is always good to properly plot out a path so member needs can be met. By the way, part of that effort will include contacting individuals currently conducting field hockey events, but not sanctioned by USA Field Hockey. Our efforts with those very important event directors are to provide a positive business opportunity through sanctioning of their events that will afford them protection with comprehensive insurance, provide budget relief through various means and to offer other programs that will help attract athletes/teams to their events.
Ethics: a great Power Point presentation dealing with ethics, conflicts of interest, fiduciary responsibility, and the host of traits needed to be an effective Board member (or, for that matter, a committee member or member of the USA Field Hockey staff) was produced by Simon Gray with a great assist from Martha Jordan. It was among the first of several instructional pieces provided during the first day of our Board meeting. It covered all the areas of proper governance including transparency (a topic that will be covered in more detail below). The Power Point presentation was so strong that it has now been adopted by a number of other sport national governing bodies (we all seem to experience similar issues from time to time). Thanks to Simon and Martha. If any of you reading this piece would care to obtain a copy, please drop me an email at email@example.com.
Self-Evaluation of Board Members: the self-evaluation by Board members is required by USA Field Hockey bylaws to be completed annually. Kevin Parker along with the good help of Dena Ebert, Carrie Lingo, and Alva Serrette (all members of the USA Field Hockey Nominating Committee), provided the report on data related to self-evaluations by the Board. In addition, Kevin provided information covering the nominating process for Board members slated to begin their terms in January, 2011. The nominating process was traditional in an NGB sense, but the presentation of Self-Evaluation of Board Members was unlike any I have seen before. In fact, I have never seen one before as I don't think many NGBs or the USOC actually have a self-evaluation process ... and, it is valuable. First and foremost, Kevin Parker delivered the report. He is hilarious in his delivery style, and was successful through his style to enthusiastically provide a serious report in such a manner that people paid attention. It was so good that had Kevin required a cover charge to hear it, I would have paid. Plus he passed out snacks ... lollipops. The report demonstrated one basic fact graphically, and that was the Board wanted to do a good job in a professional manner, but often had difficulty obtaining the data (i.e. knowledge of various programs within USA Field Hockey) for one reason or another. So, they were frustrated. Getting data would likely resolve many issues within the sport. Well done, Kevin!
Transparency: holding information as secret in a membership organization more often than not creates more difficulties than it resolves problems. If you really think about it, what is so secret in practically anything we do? Our financials should be as readily available as our organic documents, our news, and the list goes on. There are a couple of items that traditionally organizations keep close to the vest. They include contracts and personnel issues. There may be others, but not much more than that. So, throughout the weeks as this report is sent to you, you will be provided information on our financials (on a quarterly basis), our membership numbers, and other information and news as it pops up. You are entitled to know that information and our Board wants it provided to you.
High Performance: Terry Walsh, although he was not at the meeting due to coaching needs, sent in a series of reports and much ongoing information regarding competitions as the Board meeting was proceeding. Over this past month, the women's and men's national teams have been showing outcomes that are showing distinct progress in international competition. Several recent examples include the Women's National Team having highly credible performance levels in their final match against each of Holland (lost 2-3 in the final 2 seconds of play after being 2-0 up after 50 minutes) and China (won 2-1 with a highly competent performance). Given these two nations were the Gold and Silver Medalists from Beijing this was extremely encouraging. The Men's National Team lost 0-2 and 0-3 to Canada with virtually no preparation and not having any team involvement since the World Cup Qualifier in November. Most importantly was the level of performance achieved against a team that is headed to the World Cup in India in 2 weeks time. Also the Men's U/17 Team in Mexico - a highly commendable 3-1 over Chile and a fighting and close 1-3 loss to Argentina in their second contest ... and the Women's National U/19 and U/17 teams, players and coaches, will be at the Olympic Training Center this weekend to hone their team and individual skills for their pending international competitions.
The above gives you a good flavor of much that went on during the Board meeting. We did have an executive session, but it was devoted to discussing the status of various contracts. I have already said it once in last week's report, but I must again reiterate that I appreciated the professional manner in which the meeting was conducted by USA Field Hockey Chair Jim Johnson. It was crisp, to the point, and efficient. Good stuff.
From the Jay Leno Show (a little old news): The Saints won 31-17 over the Super Bowl weekend, and there was a huge snowstorm in Washington with over two feet of snow. So it's true what people say, that the Saints would win when hell freezes over.
Have a great week!
USA Field Hockey