The coach-owner runs the swim club as a business. However, in all likelihood, the coach will still need volunteers to perform a number of functions to help the team run smoothly. A coach who tries to do it all will soon find that he or she cannot accomplish every task and something will suffer or fall through the cracks. If the coach is fortunate enough to have several assistant coaches, perhaps the staff and head coach together can accomplish all that needs to be done. However, think for a moment about all of the functions that accompany running a swim team. When the team is small, in the beginning, it may be possible to do it all, but as the team grows, more help may be needed. This is where parent volunteers can be a big help.
Some of the jobs that parents can do include:
- Running swim meets. This includes all aspects of the meet from inputting entries, to signing up volunteers, to setting up and cleaning up on the day of the meet, to running concession and hospitality stands, to officiating and cleaning up the administrative details at the conclusion of the meet.
- Social events. All teams benefit from social interaction among swimmers and among parents. Parent volunteers can be in charge of events such as team picnics, end of the season banquets and holiday parties.
- Fundraising. If fundraising is necessary for the team, parents can be in charge of fundraising efforts.
- Communication. Parents can handle communication such as phone trees, publishing and distributing newsletters (with information provided by the coach), maintaining the web site and updating bulletin boards (with information provided by the coach.)
- Equipment. Parents can be charged with ordering and disbursing equipment such as team attire and team suits.
- Team Travel. Parents can not only help to plan team travel (hotel rooms, rental cars, buses, airline travel) but they are also invaluable as chaperones and meal planners.
- Publicity. Parents can handle publicity for the team. Look particularly for a parent with good connections in the community.
Depending on each situation, there may be other jobs that parents can perform. this does not mean the coach-owner has no responsibility. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. The coach-owner needs to oversee all of the above operations and delegate responsibility.
Recognizing and Rewarding Volunteers
Communication is a key factor in retaining volunteers. By keeping everyone well informed, your program will function more efficiently and your volunteers will feel more involved.
Be sure to use volunteers in areas that enhance their interests and skills. This will make the job more interesting for the volunteer and in turn, they will be more effective. Before jumping into any activity, identify what tasks need to be done, and what the requirements are. Will the task require technical knowledge, a certain kind of personality or the use of a car? How much time will be required?
A successful volunteer organization is usually led by someone who knows how to delegate responsibilities. Work needs to be distributed evenly so no one person feels overburdened or ill used. This will prevent burn-out later on. Encourage active volunteers to recruit "new blood" to work with them.
Why are people motivated to volunteer? Many parents get involved to help their children. Once these volunteers feel a sense of accomplishment, they realize their contributions are worthwhile and necessary for successful programs.
Ways to motivate Volunteers
- Recognize and reward volunteers for their contributions.
- Train volunteers to be effective and encourage them with positive reinforcement.
- Be positive and enthusiastic.
- Make projects a "team effort."
Respect and Appreciation-The success of a group is determined by how well the people involved see their responsibilities affecting the program in a positive way. The volunteer who feels appreciated will continue to work and be productive. Praise is the easiest and quickest way to encourage someone. Saying "Thank you" can be the same as a Gold Medal!