When Julie Snider was brought into her role as SOCAL’s Safe Sport Club Coordinator, she already knew Safe Sport was a top priority for the team.
“We live it and breathe it every day,” Snider said when talking about implementing Safe Sport into a positive team culture.
Since then, SOCAL Aquatics Association
(SOCAL) has continued to prioritize Safe Sport into its club culture in numerous ways. Having a Safe Sport partner on the coaching staff and board to help advocate for the program's importance has been a huge advantage for Snider. On SOCAL, Head Coach Steve Pickell and Coach Kyle Brawley are her partners to help advocate for Safe Sport. With this support, SOCAL was able to participate in numerous new opportunities this year to better implement Safe Sport.
First, Snider helped create bag tags for every athlete on the team. These tags have a brief description of SOCAL’s team policy as well as a barcode, which digitally links to the club’s full policy online. This allows all athletes and coaches to have access to the full team policy whenever they need it.
Second, the entire club had a Safe Sport meeting after a Saturday practice. The meeting went over topics such as SOCAL’s code of conduct, updated mission statement and how to respond when you see something you are not comfortable with. The meeting was split by gender, so athletes could feel more comfortable talking openly and honestly with coaches. In addition, SOCAL saw an opportunity to reiterate to athletes that coaches are always available to talk and help on deck if they need it.
Third, SOCAL spotlights a Safe Sport swimmer of the month in their newsletter. This highlights a swimmer who has a positive presence on deck, with the specific goal of rewarding positive behavior.
Fourth, when SOCAL was trying to become a Safe Sport Recognized Club
, which they did in February 2021, they made Safe Sport athlete and parent trainings a competition between groups. Groups who had the highest percentage of either parent or athlete trainings received ice cream sundaes after swim practice.
Last, Snider was very diligent in making sure MAAPP (Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policy) 2.0
was communicated to all members. Not only did she create a section for it on the website but made sure to communicate it in other ways such as email.
By creating a team culture where Safe Sport is an integral part, clubs can focus on other aspects such as swimming fast and having fun.
“Intention is always the betterment of the team and to keep kids safe,” Snider said. “We want to help prepare these swimmers to be their best in the pool, but also out of the pool in life.”
When we asked Snider for any additional tips to creating a positive Safe Sport team culture she suggested:
- Think about how to work with coaches on your club in the best way. Coaches do so much for our athletes on top of running the program, but they are open to your suggestions.
- Reach out to USA Swimming’s Safe Sport staff – they can answer any questions or concerns you might have.
For more information on USA Swimming Safe Sport visit our website here