Just received this e-mail from Cliff McCrath to all NWN families:
To: NW Nationals Board of Directors
From: C. Cliff McCrath, Technical Director
Date: January 23, 2009
Re.: Progress Report on First 15 Days
Reference is made to my first fifteen days serving as Technical Director. Please feel free to share this with the membership inasmuch as, since the appointment, I have received over 50 emails, text messages and phone calls from various coaches, families – and even a couple of players, welcoming me – formally – to the NWN family. What follows is an account of my activities so far as well as some observations and suggestions: (Please bear in mind that I have served – and continue to serve - on numerous non-profit boards, NCAA committees and am still an officer with a few NGOs that are linked to soccer and youth. All appreciate, if not demand, periodic reports from staff members.)
o Read all the official literature (constitution, bylaws, contracts, etc.)
o I have had an opportunity to visit with a couple dozen parents, several coaches and even got to exchange a few ‘High 5s’ with a number of players who have attended Northwest Soccer Camp.
o Sent a blanket message to all coaches informing them that I would be visiting their practice sessions and/or games for the purpose of evaluating their performances in order to offer my assistance as well as prepare recommendations for their contract renewal as we are approaching a new fiscal year. The message also informed them that I will be meeting with each of them FTF (face-to-face). The purpose of the FTF is to allow them to provide input re. needs they may have as well as an opportunity for me to submit an evaluation.
o To date, I have observed nine training sessions, spoken briefly with each coach, obtained cell numbers and their suggestion of best times to meet. (Note: I should have all completed by next week.
o I have spoken at length with Bobby McLaughlin (Mukilteo) about the Select Program (and coaches) which he is very ably administering. NOTE: He has not had any communication but needs Board approval for his proposal (submitted) with reference to renewing his management of the Select Program for next year. I will have recommendations for you at the next meeting.
o Spoken with a couple dozen parents (at practice sites) which has provided strategic input of the strengths – and some weaknesses of the club’
o Hats off to the coaches and administrators who have put together such a tricky practice schedule when space and sites are so limited. I was duly impressed the last couple of nights watching three teams practice on the Edmonds mini-fields in a space so limited that it was a feat not unlike inscribing The Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin. But the coaches didn’t complain and the kids were high-spirited, dedicated and businesslike in their efforts. Very impressive! Very!
o If there is any ‘downside’ to what I have seen so far; it is the trauma associated with recent activities involving accusations of alleged impropriety between a coach and a player on his team. My beginning service as Club Advisor coincided with the first wave, of what eventually became a flood, of criticism, confusion and calamity raining down on the club in general and you, the board, in particular. I have an opinion on this which I will set forth below, but first, a brief summary:
o First there was an accusation…which led to an emergency meeting of the Board…with counsel present. I was very impressed that the very first topic was concern for the child, the families of the team, the coach and the entire club which were honorable indeed. At the same time, the matter fell under the State Association’s jurisdiction which obviated the Club’s option to adjudicate the matter.
o The State suspended the coach (and directed the Club to do the same) until a ‘hearing’ could be convened which, regrettably, was delayed by the Christmas/New Year holiday season.
o Rumors and, sometimes ‘out-of-control’ reports, began to circulate and the Board soon began to experience a deluge of emails, phone calls and person-to-person contacts. (The team’s families – as well as other club members - not directly connected to the team, were asking questions and misinformation was rampant.)
o The Board elected to release an official statement clarifying the actions the State was taking and, because the circle of information had long since exceeded the boundaries of the team in question, the statement was sent to the entire club.
o Eventually the State conducted the hearing and concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to render a verdict. The result was a message from the State informing the Club that the coach was free to return to his coaching duties. NOTE: The State, currently, is considering sanctions against the club for what they termed a “disorderly, disruptive – and unauthorized - display of support” by some members of the coach’s team.
o I applaud the Club for continuing to pay the coach’s salary while on ‘administrative’ leave. Moreover, once the State’s letter arrived the Club reinstated the coach to his girls’ team and, while continuing his pay, suggested the interim coach be allowed to continue actively coaching the boy’s team already well-advanced in State Cup play. I think this was a wise move. (If I were the ‘head’ coach in the same situation, I would not want to disrupt the team, encourage the interim coach to finish the schedule and be a cheerleader for the team.)
o What occurs to be a problem at the moment is sentiment – expressed by a few parents - that, if the Board felt compelled to send a ‘release’ concerning the event when it happened, why was one not sent after he was reinstated? The answer: You, (the Board) did prepare just such a release and it exists but cannot be released at this time because the coach in question elected to retain legal counsel whose approval for such release is needed and is pending.
o My final observation is this: You, as a Board, represent sincere, dedicated people who are competent, caring and committed giving countless – and many times ‘thankless’ – hours (days, weeks, months, years?) of your time (and resources) to help sustain one of the top clubs in the State. People ‘out there’ (including yours truly), are deeply impressed with the NW Nationals. Your reputation is above reproach. You are professionals in your own right albeit not necessarily ‘professionals in matters of conflict resolution and scary issues like the alleged incident that has occurred. I believe you did your best and your motives were – and are – pure. I commend you for not backing away in order to “play it safe”.
· My suggestions:
o Put pressure on the attorney of note to approve the letter so the membership can be informed.
o Don’t beat yourselves up over criticisms that have been leveled at you – collectively or individually. These things happen and you did your best to manage it.
o Finally, this is a great club that can be the prototype for every soccer club in the area, if not the country. What is past is past and the only way to proceed is to make every effort to focus on the future. Continue your commitment to administer the affairs of the club with the best interest of the kids at heart and resist every temptation to dwell on past events. Clinging to abuses - or mistakes in judgment or action - drains organizations and people of the energy needed for achieving great things. It’s time to move forward!!
Thanks for listening and enduring this lengthy treatise, but rest assured I am at your service in every way possible to help reach the goal of excellence in every sector of the club’s life.