By Bonnie Moss//Contributor | Wednesday, February 26, 2020
The TAC Titans was the first club in the Triangle area and the largest in the nation to receive the Safe Sport Recognized Program designation. The Cary, North Carolina swim team joins the growing list of clubs to date with this distinction.
The charter program has a very supportive parent base that helps run two programs, the Tritan Club, a booster club that hosts functions for swimmers and families, and the Titan Leadership Council (TLC). The TLC is made up of 12 Titan parents, who represent several smaller committees to support various capacities: volunteering, social events, team spirit, communications, community service opportunities for swimmers and most especially, input on Safe Sport.
Leading the charge for TAC Titans Safe Sport is 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue.
“When we learned about the Safe Sport initiative, we felt it was something we wanted and needed to do. But with 700 kids, we knew it would be a long process,” says Donahue. “We thought, ‘where do we start?’ and had to break it down into pieces.”
She looked at everything from the club’s mission statement to their team policies and started to set plans in place with timeline goals. “Some issues were pretty obvious, others we hadn’t even thought about. People who are on deck all the time, volunteers, photographers…they all need background checks,” says Donahue.
To start this endeavor, her first step was to survey the team parents, asking what they currently knew about Safe Sport and what TAC is doing. After receiving feedback, she knew education would be crucial. “Several parents took a 30-minute online course and were happy to support our efforts. They were helping to grow their team in a positive atmosphere.”
Donahue started the focus in January of 2019, complete with objectives to hit, and by April had the ball rolling. Finally, the team was able to submit everything by September 2. “It’s a full-time effort,” says Donahue. “Safe Sport is not a one and done. It’s an every day, every week, every month effort. For USA Swimming, this is a huge initiative. Lots need to be done and making it a requirement would be amazing. For us, this was a perfect start to making a committed team.”
To maintain the Safe Sport status and continue its purpose, Donahue formed a Safe Sport Committee for her team:
· The committee is comprised of six people: one high school coach, one club coach, two parents, President of the Board (TAC Center) and one swimming official. The committee meets once a month to cover all issues of Safe Sport.
· The committee has worked on creating their own grievance procedure for swimmers, similar to an incident response. They also created a flow chart of information for swimmers: “What do I do? Who do I tell?” as well as follow up action items. For example, if a swimmer is bullied, they know where to go to safely share the information and document the issue in a secure environment.
· The committee ensures a quarterly education with their athletes. “We talk to each group, even if its five minutes prior to swim practice,” says Donahue. “Education is key.”