Convention 2019 Blog: Day Two

Convention 2019 Blog: Day Two

By Convention Education Committee  | Friday, September 13, 2019

Welcome to the Convention Education Committee's daily blog!  Our committee members will be documenting their journey through the week.

Follow along for a-ha moments, daily humor and quick insight into all that goes on at Convention.

Jamie Bloom (ConvEd Committee Member)

My day started at the LGBTQIA+ breakfast. What an amazing opportunity to hear Veronica talk about her journey and share her story with the folks in the room. I left the breakfast feeling inspired and hopeful about acceptance for and understanding of everyone.

Next stop for me was the Southern zone meeting. This was a very informative session with lots of interaction and pretty strong athlete participation. Congrats to new directors Matt Webber & Jim Kelly.

For lunch I had a nice pastrami reuben from Pickles Deli with my friend Chad! It was nice to catch up with Chad and the sandwich was outstanding!

Following lunch I attended the Y/USA Swimming round table. We had a nice discussion with lots of participation from just about everyone in the room. We’ve come a descent distance since our first “Swimming in the Same Water” presentation 7 or 8 years ago and both of our organizations have done some good collaborative work. I am a strong supporter of having every one of our Y swim teams also have every one of their swimmers be USA Swimming members.

My last formal meeting was the facilities panel. This was a really good presentation. Not only did we have questions and answers about building pools we also had some discussion around fitness trends and vertical programming. As a firm believer that we should all have a 50 meter pool to call our own it was great to hear that this can be a reality as long as one is incredibly patient and has lots of perseverance! And money!

I finished up my day at the women’s leadership social. The food was great! The drinks were free (at least the first one!) and the company was fantastic! I’d like to give a special shout out to Morgan as she heads out of town to run in a 100K race in Tahoe! Go Morgan! Thank you for all of your support!

Kylie Kelly (ConvEd Athlete Rep)

I’m not sure about everyone else, but I am having a blast here on day two! Starting the morning off with another practice and then heading back to the hotel to kick off a day full of meetings! The athletes got to fill themselves with some yummy breakfast before heading off to their individual zone meetings.

The Eastern Zone Meeting got a boatload of athlete participation this morning on their hot topic subjects which resulted in the athletes making some major positive changes surrounding diversity and inclusion. I hope everyone else’s meetings ran smoothly and that the athletes got the chance to see the abilities their voices have to impact their zones as well as their LSCs.

After a brief lunch break, the athletes headed on over to the start of their athlete meetings and began learning the foundation of “Robert’s Rules” to ensure they were equipped well for HOD tomorrow. We then learned about all the proposals of rulebook changes happening tomorrow to make sure the athletes had a grip on what the outcomes of these changes would consist of.

Following this, we got a presentation about creating Leadership Summits within your LSC. It was a very informative meeting with very detailed things on how we can accomplish these goals in our LSC.

This evening, the athletes finish up by attending the athlete social filled with go karts and more!

Special guest John Bradley (Outgoing Board Member)
My name is John Bradley and I've just finished my term as the Central Zone Coach Director.  I've worked in that position for the last four years and because of the timing of my term I've been a member of the Board of Directors over that time. 

What follows is something I spoke about today in my Zone Director report in the Central Zone meeting this morning.

When I first started on the BOD there were over thirty members.  It was a very difficult place to get comfortable in.  There were essentially two boards - an executive board and the broader board.  People were siloed and very territorial.  There were many personal agendas and it was a very difficult place to be heard.  Within that environment it was a very hard space and I found myself acting in ways that were pretty awful in order to make my points.  It was not a very productive place to effect change - it was a really challenging process.

Roughly two years into my term a governance committee was put in place that resulted in changing the board to the organization it is today.  The new for 2018 fifteen member board just completed its first year of governance.  The differences are night to day.  There are a lot of really smart people on the board, people who have an incredible diversity of experience who are there to assist our staff in making the difficult decisions necessary to continue to make our sport a great place for everyone who want to participate in one way or another.

The thing that I have noticed in my time over the last four years is the lack of trust people have in the process and each other.  This lack of trust is evident all around us - between coaches and officials, officials and officials, volunteers and coaches, coaches and coaches - the list is never ending.  We get so caught up in our lack of trust we think crazy, conspiratorial thoughts. This is the mentality that leads some parents to believe that their athlete's coach is conspiring with other coaches on their team to sabotage their child's sporting future or a volunteer to believe rules are being constructed to hurt their chances of running a committee or being appointed to help with a task.  It's a mentality built on fear, an inability to listen and lack of trust.

We can change this.  Wouldn't it be great to walk up to someone, have a discussion and instead of being interrupted so your acquaintance could make a point to instead be asked after they've spoken for a bit "you aren't talking - are you ok?" and you answer with "I'm just listening and making sure I understand you."  That just doesn't happen a lot.  There are so many talented people here at this convention who have so many good ideas.  Many have roles that they'd love feedback on and just need trust from you that they can do it.  They want to tell you the why - you just need to ask and listen.  If we listen to and trust in each other we can move mountains.  It's hard to do but we just need to have the courage to not be fearful and be better ourselves.

That's what being on the new board has been all about for me.  It's a group of people who are really good at listening and trusting.  They trust each other, they trust our talented staff and they trust that our staff will listen to their observations and recommendations.  They listen to the why and try to help with the broader goal.  There is incredible synergy. 

I wish everyone in our sport could have the experience I have had on the board over the last four years.  There's been great days and hard days, but over the last year each moment of the experience has been an incredible opportunity to learn from a group of amazing people.  I'm incredibly fortunate and thankful that the Central Zone trusted in me to do the job I was elected to do.  I hope you can find that trust in those around you and have the courage to listen to the people we've elected to do these volunteer jobs or work in staff positions that you may interface with as you help out.  That's how we'll continue to get better!

Glad to listen if you'd like to talk - just hit me up on the convention floor!  I'm around through Saturday.


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