If you are a college student and passionate about a certain hobby, sport, or activity, the University usually allows you to create a Student Organization. As a student there are many hoops that you need to jump through, and need to know about if you are thinking about creating one in the first place.
First year team
From a first hand experience of constructing a first year team, I encountered challenges yet, I learned to overcome them along the way, while crafting a student organization.
I created a Club Cheerleading Team at my University, in order to have an alternate option for the Athletics Cheerleading Team. My intention was to make the team available and open to all students who wanted to be a part of cheerleading who maybe didn’t have the skills/ time commitment for the Athletics cheerleading team. We wanted athletes to know that there was still an opportunity for them to do what they love, while prioritizing school, and other obligations they had in life.
As a founder of this club I had to go through the Center for Student Involvement, where they helped me register my new team through the school. I had to learn everything about a student organization in order to start off on the right foot. At first, I believed that this was going to be straightforward and easy where I would approach and conquer my goals. However, I realized I was technically starting my own business where not everything goes exactly how you would intend.
Once I had my Club Cheerleading Team as a registered organization, I had to do a lot of research to find practice space. On top of that, I had to hire professional coaches in order to help coach the team at a reasonable price, because students don’t often prioritize their money on clubs.
Getting others involved
Furthermore, I had to get members involved. I had to market through our club’s Instagram account, as well as attend student Involvement fairs in order to get members excited about a new club coming to campus. Once members were interested, I held an information session, tryouts, and the first year team was formed.
With help from coaches and co-captains along the way, the season was in full swing. Uniforms needed to be purchased, as well as coordinating events, and managing athletes, whether it be through missing practices, or emotional, and physical exhaustion. Throughout the season, I noticed that with all the stress that students had on their plate, it was hard for them to focus on the club they were interested in.
I had to figure out how we could engage members and keep it successful, which was really hard as a first year club. As a college student and coach of the club, I tried to be friends with most of the members on the team, yet when the coach becomes friends with their athletes, the respect level is lost. This personally was hard as a coach and founder of the team because members did not take the team seriously at one point. From that mistake, I quickly learned and had to put back on the coach hat.
It’s a journey
Throughout the season I had to deal with finances, scheduling, parents, and getting everything registered for Nationals for our team. It was a year of hard and emotional stress, yet every club has a trial year in where they know what they need to do in order to make it successful in the long run.
From the trial and error experiences I had with my cheer team, here are some recommendations that will help your student organization run smoothly and successfully, which I have implemented into my student organization.
- When creating a student organization, it becomes an introduction to starting your own business. Make sure you have enough time to dedicate to creating your organization.
- Make sure to register you organization and know the ins and outs to be a successful student organization. Stay in close contact with your school because they will help support your club.
- Find space to meet or practice, not far from campus. Students usually prioritize school, and commuting long distances to a student organization isn’t the most ideal for most students.
- Make sure the cost of the club is priced within the market, so students can afford it.
- Market over social media and attend networking events around campus in order to get potential members excited and involved.
- Make sure you have the appropriate amount of captains/coaches so tasks are divided, and the team runs smoothly. The more determined the coaches and captains are for success, the more likely this will rub off onto the team!
- Preparation and planning are key to having a successful team. Having a calendar, set practice times, team gear, and more, will create less stress down the line.
- Always remember that Communication is key!
- If you are a college student coach, you can’t play the coach role and friend at the same time.
- Find a way to keep members/ coaches excited to come back and be a part of your organization.
Keeping these steps in mind for any student organization will help overcome the hurdles and challenges, establishing a overall stronger club!