P&E Meeting 2009

Minutes from Planning & Evaluation Meeting on February 23, 2009

Introduction and Opening Remarks

Chuck Katter welcomed attendees and discussed the format of the meeting, which included breaking out into separate “focus groups” on issues of importance to the club and generating specific action items that we can implement in the coming months.
Move to Mahackeno: Y’s new CEO Rob Reeves introduced himself and discussed the status of the Y’s move to Mahackeno. Rob answered questions from the group and emphasized that the new Y at Mahackeno will be a valuable community “destination” for years to come.

Evaluation of the Water Rat Swim Team

Head Coach Jeremy Howard acknowledged that there had been poor communication between coaches and parents and between coaches and swimmers. But he noted that this is a transition year. He said he will look to improve communication going forward. He said he would go back to paper meet sign ups, which avoid the hassles he’s had with Direct Athletics. He also stressed that he and the other coaches are getting to know the kids better and both he and many members of the group agreed that the 8/Under Championships were very successful. He will work toward improving specific feedback via email and news blasts but also called on parents and kids to communicate, too! Jeremy then took questions from the group and there was discussion of the coaching/management structure and issues with the Sr. 3 practice group. There was discussion as well as to how the team can establish new traditions and create a fun atmosphere. One popular suggestion was to bring back “fun day” practice at the end of each season.


Ronald Wimer divided the attendees into four focus groups. Each group was led by a Parent Club Board member and discussed the following issues for approximately 30 minutes:

  • Volunteerism: Promoting the importance of volunteering, the points system, providing incentives and managing volunteers who fail to meet their requirements. (Led by Ronald Wimer)
  • Communication: Website introduction and best tools for communicating with the Parents Club, coaching staff and swimmers. (Led by Mary Cooperman)
  • Education: Introducing parents to CT Swimming, USA Swimming and best practices of clubs throughout the swimming community. (Led by Bonnie Strittmatter)
  • Fundraising: Objectives and new ideas as well as implementation and management. (Led by Chuck Katter)

Focus Group Results

Volunteerism: A meet manager chair is necessary and should be a Board position. He/she in turn will recruit experienced and not so experienced parents to help run meets and train. A concession chair is also necessary and will be a board position.
Hold a “practice meet” to demystify the jobs/responsibilities. It would be geared specifically toward new parents.
Rework the zero-points requirement.

Increase the penalty for those who do not meet their volunteer requirements.

Hold a new parents meeting at the start of each season and add more detail about the various jobs to the website and bylaws.
Communication: The new website (which is debuting at the start of Long Course) should become THE place to go for all information. It must be updated daily with coaches news and team news. Coaches and Parent Club board members will maintain the site.

The website should have an extensive FAQ section where team information (now found primarily in the handbook) is easily accessible. Contact information must be prominently displayed so that parents and swimmers know immediately who to call/email for any concern.

Coaches need to regularly publish AG and Sr. News (preferably on the website’s new blogs.)

There must be a stated policy for communication, i.e. every email must be responded to within an appropriate amount of time and parents must know when they can expect a response.

Education: The Parent Club needs to communicate the importance and differences between CT and USA Swimming. The new website is a good vehicle for this as are parent meetings at the start of the season.

The club is committed to pursuing USA Swimming’s Club Excellence and Club Recognition programs.

The team needs to stay innovative, i.e., the Wrats were the first club in CT to use the Hi-Tek system.

Fundraising: The Board should establish a Fundraising Committee at the beginning of the year to identify effective ways of fundraising. In the past, team apparel, towels, and logo wear have been very successful and should be sold again.

The Committee should look into possible sponsorship for big items from local merchants or the Metro Swim Shop.\

The focus group also discussed sponsorship of meets.

The Committee should also contact other teams to see what they do in this area.

Conclusion and Summary

After reviewing all the focus group ideas, Chuck and Ron thanked everyone for coming. It was a very successful meeting, which generated many excellent ideas to help the team grow stronger in the coming year.

The meeting adjourned at 9 pm for non-board participants.

Board members were asked to stay to address two issues:

1. LC Meet Bids: The Board discussed whether we wanted to bid for an additional LC meet this spring (in addition to the Sr. Open and the 9/Under meet.) There were several conflicts, notably June 13-14 (the best weekend for our meet) is the weekend of New Canaan’s Gates Open. The board agreed to bid for a one-day AG and Sr. Qualifier at Wesleyan on June 13 or 14 and hope that NC moves the Gates Open to the following weekend. e Board agreed that the 9/under meet will be held on June 25.

2. Anniversary Dinner: The Board agreed to proceed with the anniversary dinner at the Westport Women’s Club and subsidize the cost for the younger attendees. (High School kids and anyone graduating after 2000 will only pay $25. Everyone else will pay $50.)

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 pm.

The next Board meeting will be March 4, 2009.

Respectfully Submitted,
Mary Cooperman