Teaching clinics at the U19 WFC

I’m a firm believer that everyone is out there searching for purpose. Purpose may look different or come in different forms for each person. However, those looking for it and open to it will ultimately find it.

When I went to college I started out as a music major. I’ve been blessed to play music most of my life and the experiences gained through that has made a deep impact on my life. However, I quickly realized that I like playing music far more than practicing, and I also wasn’t that interested in much of the curriculum. As I started searching for another path I had always thought about teaching in school. At that time my grades weren’t superb, especially to get into our college of education, which was highly competitive at Western Washington University. All hope of teaching was not lost. Little did I know that over time I would be given many opportunities to teach, and in ways I didn’t necessarily see coming.

Jump forward many years later and I’ve been able to impact many lives of those around me. Some of them I would see often while others I would see one or two days, or never again. One of the things I love about being involved in sports, specifically youth instruction and development is that I get the privilege of working with so many kids. Don’t get me wrong, at times it’s very difficult work, and I’m forever grateful to full-time teachers and educators who teach our kids on a daily basis. Every teacher regardless of what they do has those moments and experiences that show the impact they’re having. Most of the time we don’t get to see the fruition of our work, but every now and then glimmers of it come up and remind us why we teach.

This spring I was invited to the U19 Men’s World Floorball Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The company Premier Floorball, out of the area, brought me out to be part of the event. Aside from getting the chance to support Team Canada and Team USA, I got to just be a spectator. Which isn’t always the case as of late. It was wonderful watching all the teams play in such a fun atmosphere. As part of the event I put on some clinics for local kids. A few things struck out to me while I was there.

It doesn’t matter the size of the group you’re in front of you can still make an impact. While the number of kids wasn’t much for some there always lies an opportunity to make an impact. One session I ran included one child in particular. His mom and he showed up to the clinic and he seemed a little nervous. We even coaxed his older brother to join us even though he reminded me that he was a hockey player. Immediately I jumped into teacher mode. While I had two kids I ran them through a number of drills and games to get them moving and having fun. The family was there because they were looking for something for the younger son to do and Floorball sounded like something he would be interested in. In a 35 min time frame he took to the sport quite well. It wasn’t much time, but at the end it was apparent to me that he had fun. I encouraged them to sign up with the local club and give it a shot. I don’t know it they ever did that, but I’m hopeful that through a positive experience with Floorball that he might down the road.

We never know the impact we will make on people. Sometimes we have a lifetime with people, and others we have fleeting moments. We have the opportunity each time to make a lasting impact. Hopefully that impact is a positive one, and while it may not always work out that way we still have the chance each day. I’m grateful for every moment I get to explore my purpose and share it with others. I hope if you’re reading this you’ve found yours, or are open to seeing what that is for you.

Demonstrating Floorball to Collegiate Rec Programs

I love traveling and seeing what else is out there. When possible I’ve tried to link my travels with Floorball in some capacity. Whether that’s running a camp while I’m on vacation, or setting up a demo program while I’m traveling to speak. I think utilizing the opportunity is an important one when you have it. I was traveling to Bellingham, WA for the 2018 NIRSA Region VI conference where I was attending and speaking both on the Floorball and on the process of becoming a recreation director at a University. Bellingham is home to Western Washington University and is my Alma Mater.

I spent my undergraduate time working in campus recreation from the outdoor center on campus to working in the recreation center. Knowing I would be in the area I reached out to my old boss to inquire if there would be interest in offering a floorball demo on campus. He agreed and we set forth a plan to market and build awareness of the event. One of the challenges faced right off the bat was the timing of the event. I had a commitment for the conference at 5pm so we ended up running the event in the early to late afternoon. If you’ve spent much time on a college campus you’ll know that 1-4pm isn’t the ideal time to run a program. It’s not a terrible time, but it’s not the peak time of the facility by any means. However, it was the time that worked in my schedule to make something happen. I figured at the very least it couldn’t hurt to try.

Prior to getting there I worked with the campus recreation department to develop marketing materials and work to put the message out on social media. When partnering with another group or organization it’s important to have buy in from them on the program. They need to be the driving force on putting content out through their channels. Without it there is little hope of getting awareness, especially if you’re an outside group coming on to campus. As an alum I also used my connections with professors I knew who helped push the program out through their channels. I also made contacts with other student organizations on campus that I felt would be interested in something like this. The group that bought in was the WWU Hockey Club. They were instrumental in helping promote the event, and used it as a way to connect with the student body in a different way.

The day of the event came, we set everything up and waited. I’d be lying if I said we had all these student rushing to come play Floorball. In reality we had very little. It could have been the time of day, day of the week, or people weren’t interested. The students who did come and play were from the WWU Hockey Club. At the very least it was great getting to meet them and connect. As the afternoon wore on we were able to get enough to start playing. As more came the game grew, and what happened next was what I hoped would happen. We were located in the back gym of the facility. It’s on the path to the locker rooms, and is very visible to students walking by.

As we were playing I noticed two students stop in their tracks when they saw what we were doing. They watched for a bit, and then came over to inquire. We were able to get them into the game and we played for about 20 minutes. It was that sort of reaction that I was hoping for. Not only did they connect with Floorball they also got to meet new students and connect with the hockey club. If you only looked at the direct number of students involved in the program you might think it was a failure. I don’t see it that way. I saw an opportunity to impact even one person towards Floorball as a positive, and I think we did more than that on that day.

The landscape of campus recreation is already starting to change. I know that campus recreation professionals (including myself at Saint Martin’s University) are trying to find ways to connect with students. In many cases that requires new thinking, new programs, and new equipment. I know that Floorball has a place in collegiate recreation programming. Whether it’s located in intramural sports, club sports, or one day as a varsity sport.

Importance of a Board of Directors

There’s a lot of information that goes into a business, and you certainly want to make sure that you’re following all of your State and Federal rules and regulations.  There are a number of steps that you’ll need to go through before you get it off the ground.  Plus you’ll want to seriously think through the entire process of how things will work before you launch.  While you may be really excited about getting your new venture off the ground; the key here is taking the time do to it right.  Slow things down, do your research, and get all of your documents and contracts prepared before you push forward.  The more prepared, methodical, and clear you are in the process the easier it will be to get things going in the beginning.

If you’re building a non-profit make sure to operate it as one.  Nonprofit organizations do not have owners, private business have owners.  Nonprofits have founders. As a founder of a nonprofit you are not allowed to profit or benefit from the net earnings of the organization.  However, you can make money in various other ways including receiving compensation from the nonprofit.  It’s a good idea to make sure you clearly understand all of the rules and regulations pertaining to nonprofits and operations before starting out. Many sports clubs and leagues operate as non-profits.

Aside from the various documents you’ll need to fill out at the Federal, State, and Local level you’ll want to think though the type of people and number that you want on your board. Remember, your board members are volunteers and they need to be aware of and held accountable for their responsibilities. Each board member should fill a need or a role that will benefit the organization.  If the board is too small you’ll overwork your board, while a board that is too big doesn’t give everyone a chance to actively participate.  We all know that person we work with who doesn’t bring value to a project but takes credit.  Avoid that as much as possible. The goal of the board is to enhance the overall mission and operation of the organization. That means they need to get work done.

Each member should have a vested interest (not monetarily, or conflict of interest) in some manner, and be actively working to further the purpose of the organization.  A board that produces nothing is a waste of time, and time is running out to get your venture off the ground and growing.  You can’t afford that, so be very particular about the type of people you who will greatly influence all aspects of your organization. Look for people who have expertise that you need. They should have a passion for what you’re doing and be able to clearly articulate that passion to potential donors, etc. There should be clear job descriptions for each board member, and it should outline the requirements needed to remain a board member.

It’s fairly common practice to have term limits, and to stagger those term limits so new board members can benefit from their veteran counterparts.  To clarify, a board member plays a different role in the organization, and should be different from an employee.  The job of the board should be to ensure that the organization is properly managing its resources, and responsibilities, while actively helping to secure its financial well-being.  While a manager will focus on running the day to day operations of the organization, the board helps manage the bigger picture (goals, mission, etc.) of the organization and make sure it’s achieving those ends.

If you’re going this route take your time. Truly think through the process as much as possible and seek out advice and counsel. Whoever is on the board will have a huge impact on your organization for years to come. It’s possible that you have the resources available to you through your local government agencies to help you through the process of forming your nonprofit and board.  Don’t be afraid to ask the questions, and make sure you set your new organization up to focus on growth.

Steps to Start your Floorball Program

Many are learning about Floorball for the first time. It is natural that the learning curve for most will be steep. There is a lot to learn when learning a new sport, and it can be a bit daunting. For anyone looking to start a Floorball program I recommend following these steps to create a sustainable foundation.  The goal here is to develop a full-fledged sport and not a one-off adventure.

Step 1 – Learn the basics 

Floorball is like hockey in several ways while different in others. It is important that you learn those differences and stick to them. If you truly want to play Floorball as designed, you need to be teaching and playing the sport accordingly. At all costs you want to avoid playing a pseudo form of hockey. Stick checking, stick lifting, body checking must be avoided to maintain continuity. Take the time to read and gather as much information about the sport as you can. The goal is to develop a foundation of knowledge, so you are prepared to teach the sport accordingly.

If you’re looking for resources, you can find a few to help. The International Floorball Federation rule book is a good place to start. You can find it on their website at www.floorball.org. The rulebook will give you a detailed account of the rules of the game and will help ensure you know to carry out those rules. If you’re looking for a complete guide to the sport of Floorball including a curriculum, drills, tactics, and other information check out the Floorball Guru Primer at www.floorballbook.com. This book will give you everything you need to start a program and be successful.

Step 2 – Teach the game

Everyone has their own style and approach to teaching. I highly encourage anyone looking to start a program should teach the game. One of the best ways to do this is to run learn to play clinics, and instructional classes. The goal is to teach the game in a controlled setting that focused on skill development while teaching the basics of the sport. Like all developed sports you need instructional classes, development processes to build a following and a base which to grow. This is valuable because it helps build interest and engagement in the sport while laying a foundation for the next step.

Step 3 – Develop Leagues

Typically, people want to jump to step 3. For starters if you got into floorball you likely realize the value of the sport and want to play. The problem with jumping to this point is that you haven’t set a foundation which to build off. For many, going through step 2 is a tedious process, but one that it crucial to long term development of your leagues. When forming your league, you’ll want to first find space to host it. The size of your space will determine the type of league that you’re able to offer. You might also want to consider when starting out focusing on a smaller version such as 3v3 instead of jumping into 5v5. If you’ve been teaching and building a base you can use those participants to fuel your league. Now you should have a core group of players from ages 6-15 that can transition into a youth league. It is likely the parents of those kids have found an interest as well and may look to join the adult league. Now you have the true potential to have an established and growing Floorball program, not just a league, but a sustainable process.

Step 4 – Keep building

This entire process will take time. While we want to jump in to the fray and immediately build something of value it will take time. Things don’t happen overnight, and while you may believe the sport to be a wonderful thing it will take time to educate. We’re breaking habits and changing passions from other sports to Floorball. If you’re not willing to put in the work and play the long game your program will not succeed in the long run. Keep at it, keep learning, and keep pushing forward. Things will come in time.