State of Skate

Feb. 13, 2015, 3:51 p.m. (ET)

I have been the president of USARS for approximately 2 months and the main goals have been financial stability and membership growth.  Your Board of Directors has been working hard to accomplish those goals and I would like to give you the highlights of those efforts

Finance- Last year the office expenses were reduced by more than $250,000 with staff reductions, insurance reductions and increased revenue.  For the coming season we were able to negotiate even further reductions of nearly $250,000 in insurance premiums.  We have increased national entry fees slightly and amateur card fees slightly to ensure that operational expenses can be managed and balanced in 2015.  In the past a budget was not always created or followed; but for the coming season, the finance committee has worked hard to have a realistic budget that will ensure revenue to manage USARS programs.  For the 2014 season USARS again posted a loss but not as much loss as in previous years.  We will finish this year with debt and the US Foundation for Amateur Roller Skating has generously offered an additional loan of $200,000 to support competitive roller skating.  USARS is very thankful for this generous support.  I will not give details of this in a document like this that can be shared on media.  We have competitors in all aspects of our sport and I do not believe it to be smart business to provide those competitors with details that they might use to compete with USARS. 

Growth – We are now moving governance and rules to those who are most capable to make the structure for each discipline via Sport Committees.  The board maintains oversight of each sport committee but we feel that those who know the discipline should be the persons making suggestions and limitations for that discipline.  We believe that this will help make the governance more responsive and more likely to grow membership.  USARS is a membership driven organization and the more members we have, the stronger the organization is financially as well as more ideas and expertise to improve.  We hope that each sport discipline can grow this season.  The existing members can affect that with their communication with new or potential members.

Communication – This year has shown increased communication on social media and that communication has helped make USARS more transparent.  There are challenges with social media but far more people are involved and providing input to the leadership.  Much of that input is from membership and even from some who have been previous members but chose to not currently be members.  We welcome input from all interested parties.  We prefer the communication to be productive and civil but we hope to continue to gain input from the field and respond to the field.

Another tool we use for communication is our coaches.  Each discipline has a sub committee of the Sport Committee for coaches’ representatives.  These groups are elected within their own region and they provide input. Coaches are the ones who attract skaters and athletes and generate membership.  Their input tells the leadership what challenges they face and what suggestions would potentially make improvements in competitive structure, finance, membership, etc.  We value this increased communication tool and have made changes this current season based upon the input of these groups.

A final word on communication – I and the board of directors hope to have more frequent OPEN Forums to communicate challenges and successes this season.  Most likely these will be on Webinar type platforms.  When coordinating these events we must consider coaches’ schedules, knowing that Saturday and Sunday are the free time for family and high volume time for the rink operator and coaches.  We are committed to having these events more frequently

Accountability - This past season the board had much higher levels of accountability with more frequent communication of budget and performance.  Much of this information was shared with the field and even an acknowledgement that the trends in membership were missed.  That was a significant event that demonstrated movement toward open communication. 

A request for review by the Nebraska Attorney General was communicated to the field and USARS complied with the request.  The attorney general was responding to a complaint from the field and USARS believes that there is nothing to hide.  If a member believes that there is something not being done by regulation, they have a right to question this action.  It is USARS' obligation to respond to monitoring agencies to ensure that those issues gain accurate information. 

Leadership - USARS has new leadership with a new president, vice president and treasurer.  We have new board members and new membership on sport committees.  The executive committee is predominately new.  All of these changes are meant to improve the sport and the ability to manage resources for the organization.  I hope you will visit the web site and familiarize yourself with your new leadership and communicate often with those that you feel comfortable.  You can email the board at bod@usarollersports.org. 

The Board of Directors works many, many hours to help promote the growth of competitive roller skating.  We have many sub committees and opportunities where we could use expertise or ideas of those in the field that have many professional talents that could enhance the mission of Roller Sports.  I hope that you will consider offering what expertise you might care to share.

I hope this gives you some immediate information and I look forward to you communicating with your coaches, operators and board members.

Dan Brown

President, USA Roller Sports