When there is a coaching change in sports, you usually hear the new coach speak about how the organization is the right fit for him or her, or how the organization is top notch, or how it was his or her dream to coach at a place as prestigious as that organization. One word or philosophy consistently catches my attention in these speeches. Alignment. From the top of the organization to the bottom, everyone wants to be on the same page when it comes to the core goals they want to achieve, and the process by which they go about achieving them.
For instance, teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, the University of Alabama football team, and the New England Patriots talk about their system more than any other individual or idea. It helps not only the team achieve success, but fosters the mentality needed to maintain it for long periods of time.
This is not to say the most successful coaches, teams, and franchises have things all figured out; but it does show how these organizations understand and believe that if they stay true to who they are and how they go about accomplishing their goals, they will reach some form of success. There is no questioning of personnel moves or second guessing of leadership when it comes to decisions. For whatever reason, everyone buys into the culture and everyone is under the same belief that the decisions being made are best for everyone involved.
I lead my October Notes from the NIRSA Championship Series blog entry with this example because after spending time with the NIRSA Services Corporation (NSC) Board of Directors at the 2017 midyear meetings, I came away knowing that while we may not be the Spurs, Alabama football, or Patriots, at the NIRSA Championship Series, we are taking the right steps to align the affinity and value our members have for our tournaments and the processes we use to develop them.
For those who are not aware, the 2017-2018 NSC Board consists of: David Bowles, President, University of Florida; Stu Halsall, Vice President, University of Denver; Eric Hawkes, NC State University; Stephanie McAlpine, University of Texas Arlington; Tim Mertz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jen Speer, The University of Texas at Austin; Mark “The Shark” Williams, University of Notre Dame, and Pam Watts, Executive Director. Together, this group helped end some long-standing debates and further illustrated the importance of what we do and why so many of us hold it near and dear to our hearts.
This group was also instrumental in helping reestablish officials’ stipends for the National Basketball Tournament this year and in the future. They all unanimously approved the allocation of more funding for student development through the shared revenue NIRSA has earned via the Spalding Basketball Sponsorship. Being able to hear and see how a lot of these decisions are made helped solidify what I already thought about the NSC Board and hopefully this insight helps you put faith in them as well.
In other good news, I would like to extend some personal kudos to our work teams. As some of you know, we have been in the process of growing our NIRSA Club Basketball League. It has been a combination of members helping with this process from Assistant Director for Intramural Sports/Sport Clubs Bonnie Hainline at Southern Methodist University to Assistant Director of Competitive Sports Ashley Lax at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Now the work team led by Assistant Director of Sport and Camp Programs Drew Cantwell of Louisiana State University has grown the league even more. We now have 21 teams for the men’s division and 23 teams for the women’s division. I would highly encourage you all to have your teams join before the October 31 deadline.
Thanks to Assistant Director for Sports Clubs and Intramural Events, Laura Thomas and her soccer work team for developing and implementing the process for us to select a Director of Officials for the National Soccer Tournament. Kevin Maurer, who serves as the Assistant Director for Competitive Sports for Winston-Salem State University, will began his inaugural term at this year’s tournament.
Kevin is a NIOSA-certified official and has been serving as a collegiate official for over five years. He currently works games in the ACC, Sun Belt, Big South and other conferences. Kevin’s work speaks for itself, and he states, “I understand the NIRSA mentality and expectations and want to serve in a role where I can make a positive impact in the NIRSA community and continue learning and being involved in my favorite tournament. I have seen other professional members whom I’ve looked up to for many years start to step away, and I want to keep carrying the torch forward and serve the students and professionals who come to this tournament.”
You can also keep doing your part by volunteering for the many opportunities that are still out there. Currently the National Tennis Tournament is looking for a Director of Competition. National Basketball has extended the deadline for hosts for the tournament. Applications are still being accepted for the staff positions for the National Flag Football Tournament.
If volunteering isn’t in the cards for you this year, another great way of supporting the Championship Series is supporting Student Official’s Development. Through officiating, students build skills like conflict resolution, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. Young officials who participate in NIRSA’s training become lifelong sports fans who give back to their communities both on and off the field. So please consider donating today and supporting this wonderful aspect of the Series.