Come to Jesus Meetin’

2 09 2009

So I mentioned last week that some things were going on that were weighing on my mind, things that could change the way things were. Originally I wasn’t ready to talk about it here, but I am now. Sort of.

After my posts, the shit hit the fan, leading to my Sad Panda post. The Vice President resigned. A bunch of the rest of the Executive Committee (EC) nearly resigned and I nearly quit my jobs as well. I have not been on the EC since last November, but I still retain some pretty significant jobs and I’m pretty much in daily contact with certain EC members.

Guys of the PRFC, this one is for you, specifically, so sit down & listen to me.

(btw, ten points if you were actually school-aged and/or remember when that song came out!)

And before I begin, three things:

1. I would appreciate if you, the PRFC member, would comment on this post. Not on the cause of this situation, but the results of, or potential results. You can give yourself whatever name you want, real name/pseudonym/made up name. It’s up to you. Email addresses, however required, will be removed before the comment is posted. So it will be as anonymous as you make it. I don’t care who you are, this isn’t going to be shared w/ anyone, so you can use your real email, ok? In a few days, I won’t have any idea who says what. It’s part of what I want for this blog. I like to be private a bit n’at. But it’s about time some of you shared your opinions on this topic in a non-drunk, non-Ruggers Pub, really equal time for all parties environment.

2. I have a disclaimer: In the Fall of 2007 at the AGM, I was presented with a Lifetime Membership to the PRFC. What this means is that someone (my coach) nominated me to the current EC, they discussed and agreed. In the long run, it means, per the constitution:  “Entitled to regularly participate in practice, match play, or social functions without payment of dues. In order to be considered for lifetime membership, a person must be nominated by another club member and accepted as a lifetime member by the Executive Committee. Lifetime membership is intended for those who make significant contributions to the PRFC.” While I love that I was recognized as such, I still love this club and work my ass off to make it better.

3. I want to remind all of you PRFC folk who read this, especially the men, about what I wrote about your team on this blog. I may have been more excited to see how you do this season that I was my own team! I’ve been around for nearly 8 years. You have no idea how much your success makes me happy. If you read this blog and you don’t get me yet, then you need to go back and start at the beginning, my friend. And if you ever doubt my support and love of your team, you have a serious problem.

All of this EC & team drama has not only been distracting, depressing and stressful, it’s made me question whether the club members understand the why & what of the Board of Directors. There are things that happen, appear, are provided etc. and I’m not sure everyone gets it.

So here’s what I’m trying to tell you:

Everything  for practice: location, balls, cones, rucking pads, tackle dummies, scrum sleds….
Everything you need at a game:
location, field liners, paint, padding, flags, jerseys, balls…
Everything that helps you keep up to date: Yahoo groups, website, newsletter, contact lists, etc…
Everything you need to get those other things: fundraising, sponsorship, marketing, Brewfest, Coopers Lake, the Steel City 7s tourney…
And everything you need to celebrate a win/forget a loss: socials, the Pub etc….

Those are all overseen by a board member. It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. If they did? We’d all be happier, believe me.

Those of us involved – especially those of us you have lost/may lose – spend a minimum of an hour on PRFC work DAILY. Yes, daily.

So with your VP resigning, do you know what you’ve lost? I’ll tell you – from my memory a very brief list…

  • the MAJOR men’s recruiter (think about it? where did you find us? did you talk to him before your first practice? i bet half of you did.) AND women’s recruiter. It’s why you’re stuck with me for the rest of eternity.
  • the coordination of practice & match fields, including directions sent out prior to any event and/or change in event location
  • set up of the Coopers Lake & Steel City 7s brackets & schedule. I’ll kill someone over this. I swear to god.
  • Coordination of the men, women, Pitt men, Pitt women in terms of Boyce Park
  • the guy who takes time out of his day to visit the oh-so-friendly City Parks office & Boyce Park to secure our practice & match fields
  • Assistance with refs for games, Coopers, Steel City 7s

And besides that list, you lost one of the biggest, most vocal supporter of the PRFC in general.

And unfortunately, there could be more losses. If those whom I know of resign, you also stand to lose, just based on random memory:

  • The other person who helps coordinate fields, equipment and oversees everything else
  • The person who fixes or provides most of the raw materials we need (ie. the 2x4s you use to set up the uprights)
  • Someone who keeps track of, or tries to, the equipment the club owns/uses, including jerseys, scrum sleds, uprights, flags, liners, materials for lining a field, misc Coopers Lake & Brewfest stuff, misc club stuff I won’t even list right now and don’t even know why we own it…
  • Three of maybe 7 people who actually know how to correctly or make-it-work line a field
  • Your Brewfest brewer, judge, set up, ticket, etc coordinator
  • Your Coopers Lake Director
  • The Yahoo group owner & moderator of all three groups
  • Your den mother 🙂
  • Your website updater/fixer upper
  • The person who currently knows how to run the simple hoagie sales
  • Keeper of the club logo, bar logo, jpg files and every file we’ve ever needed over the past 7 years
  • Someone who somehow always know what is going on at all times
  • This is such a minor list and doesn’t even involve every EC member’s jobs!!!

Now, none of us – NONE – do this because we want you to thank us, or want you to love us or want anything but your participation and hard work. We’ve all done it because we were blessed/cursed with an ability to do these things effectively. But it takes time. A lot of time. And a LOT of work. More than most of you would realize, seriously.

In my case, personally? During Coopers & Brewfest season, which I’d say is January – March for Coopers and currently July/August – November for Brewfest. Most non-practice nights, I spend an increasing amount of time, 5pm-11pm on my laptop emailing, planning, creating docs, images, printable things for use at the events.  On practice nights, it’s about a half hour before practice and then 9:30 or so till after 11pm. It increases as the event draws near to the point that the entire time period is devoted to that event. It’s hard to concentrate at practice the later in the event season it gets. And I work on it on weekends.

Do I really love it? No. Yes. It depends on the day. But am I good at making those events happen for this club? You bet your ass I am! I am good at what I do for this club. And I take pride in it. I don’t want your thanks or anything but your hard work when you’re there. That is what I ask of everyone.

And if things get to the point where I do walk away from this club, would I be upset? No. I’d be completely heartbroken. Crushed. To walk away from an organization that I have given so much of my time & effort (and my family’s time & effort for that matter), an organization that I truly love? It would break me.

So now we’re at a point where you’ve lost one EC member, could lose another or more and myself. I asked you to comment: What do you, the club member think? What do you want to happen? Did you know what you had going for you with the board? Do you want to step up and take over something? What will you do to take over if these board members resign? Do you understand why some of us might resign? What questions do you have?

(For those of you totally confused by the title? Click here.)

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6 responses

2 09 2009
Nate

?

What the hell happened?

I take it DT retired from the board; did he reisgn from the team as well?

2 09 2009
Snake it

I have no idea what the hell is going on.

Snake it.

2 09 2009
PghRugbyRef

What a mess this has become and it has happened so quickly.

Let’s start off with some facts (well, I don’t know if they’re facts, but statements that I believe):
A coach should be held responsible for the safety of all of the players, not just the starting 15 or selected 22, all the players.
A coach should be able to teach rugby skills. In the States, we aren’t brought up on rugby. Our Club is often the first exposure that these players have to the best sport on the planet (sorry hurling, but you are still pretty cool). Since our first experiences in sports, players look to the coach to teach. Being a funny talker doesn’t make you a great coach, nor does it mean that you know more about rugby or how to run a team than the rest of us.
They should also be required to keep up on their education of rugby, as the Laws and interpretations of them are constantly changing (thanks IRB and your ULVs).
The coach should be accountable to the elected Board; it is a paid position and without regulation, can wreck havoc upon the entire Club (as we’re seeing).
These things (and others) are necessary for any coach associated with the Club, weather they coach Men, Women, College or High School (me included, although I’m not paid…yet…)

The Board was attempting to clarify this list of responsibilities for the coaches and asked Coach to consider them. From what I hear, Coach refused to adhere to any of the above mentioned points. He refused to even consider them. He walked out of the meeting, essentially quitting the job.
I was asked to evaluate some web-survey sites to determine the best one to use (for both annonaminity and prevention of “stuffing the ballot box”). I would guess that the questions ranged from “Should we allow Coach back?” to “Do you feel that Coach is doing a good job”. A win loss record doesn’t really show what kind of coach you are.
The survey never materialized, I think it was because Coach returned (two days after he walked; I don’t know why he decided to return, or what reasons he gave some select players on the team as to why he quit). Resident A-hole (not my name for him) welcomed him back and told the men to have a vote right then and there, a vote by the players that were there that night. The Coach walked away from his position and was reinstated by the players, not the elected board; the board that has been given the responsibility of running the Club, not the men or the women but the whole Club. Once he had quit, his return should have been cleared by the Board (I guess that’s if he wants paid).
The Board feels that what they are trying to do for the Club by setting up guidelines for coaching staff has been ignored by the players on the Men’s side (my speculation). They feel disrespected (speculation again). One of the founding principles of rugby is respect (ok, maybe not always on the pitch, but at least afterwards…)
I hope VP’s resignation was just a knee-jerk reaction and he reconsiders. I know he was not interested in taking over the role of coach; he’s got his own team that he has spent many years building. He has always had the best interest of the Club at heart. He bleeds rugby. He will be missed and I don’t know how many others it will take to fill his shoes. I’d rather have him around than a coach. If he is truly gone for good, we have lost one of our pillars (but if he starts recruiting for some other club in Pittsburgh, I might just have to…)
The Pittsburgh Rugby Club is on an upswing and it’s awesome to see. This situation can become very bad very quickly if it’s not handled properly. We can’t have more of our leadership disappear (I’m looking at you AA and Madam President).
PS. Who is the “Nate” from the comments? Should I know him? He sounds like some sort of clown.

3 09 2009
anonymous

Though I have not agreed with the board over their view of the coach, I have also been a firm believer that the board is the only elected group that represent the whole club, and the interest of all players past, present and players yet to join. I think people forget that the club doesn’t mean the men’s team. It is much larger than them alone, and though they are passionate about the game, others are too, and this cannot be forgotten.

I find the stories and rumors that suggest the board are/where motivated by self interest abhorrent and feel disgusted that the work that people have put into the club is being viewed in relation to one issue (the men’s coach, and even he admits his insignificance in terms of the clubs past and future) . I think it is short sighted that people cannot see the work that you have all done for the club, but in particular the work that the former VP has done for the men’s team.

When we step on the field at the start of a game, we agree, simply by being on the field to follow a set of rules. Nothing makes us follow them except we choose to, and by doing so we can enjoy playing the game. We never question it. When the referee interprets those rules, and we disagree we live with it.

Likewise when we become part of the team, and therefore a part of the club, we by doing so agree to follow the rules of that club. Like during the game, we may not like those rules, but we must stick with them and follow them, or move on. People seem to be failing to see this, and this makes me doubt them and their own mental capacity. But more importantly their own motivations and interests.

I understand that people do not always see eye to eye, and the club understood this as well when they put in place a process that allows for descent. So there is a process and a course of action that the guys team can take to make their voices heard, and that the board was executing this process. I think this was being done in the correct way and was very supportive of the board for taking this course of action, but more importantly taking their time in doing so. By doing so making sure it was in the best interest of all concerned.

I know the players wanted their coach back, so did i, and it was happening, and happening in the right way. But too ignore the board and take actions into their own hands, I find tragic. It is near sighted and it sets a precedent, what happens next time we disagree over something? Where does it stop?

The board ensures the continuation of the club. I wanted the coach back more than most, and argued why we needed him to any that would listen. I am glad he is back; it was great to see a fractured team unite, but the cost? This was not the way. We should not commit fratacide, we need these people on our team, we need the VP back as much as we needed the coach to return and we should be rallying as hard to get him back. But we are not and this is heart breaking.

It seems that old jealousies have been allowed to play out here and ego’s have taken over. The VP’s phone should be ringing off the hook with players asking him to return and others being humble to admit that his role on the team is greater than their wounded ego’s, from seasons past.

3 09 2009
stepcrunch

AA makes great points! This ‘incident’ got completely out of control for absolutley no reason whatsoever. There’s no upside to assigning blame at this point but it’s VERY important that we learn from this experience and not go down this track again.

IMHO the ongoing existence of the club in its current form was threatened by this incident and for what? Processes and structure exist for a reason, and the primary reason they exist is to avoid debacles like the club has endured over the past 10 days. The big decisions are made by the board, that’s what you elect them for, that’s what they get the big bucks for (ok, maybe not). That responsibility is enshrined in the Club’s Constitution and should be respected. The Convenors exist to manage the more tactical issues on the Men’s and Women’s teams as well as to be the voice of the Men and Women on the board. The captains are responsible for motivating and organizing the team between the white lines in partnership with the coach. The structure exists, lets work with it!

To add to another point that AA made – the board does a ton of work. It’s amazing how much time and effort is required to run a club of this size with the number of events, teams and other moving parts it has. Until you do it, you don’t really appreciate the imposition on your time every single day. And while AA is not officially a board member anymore her contributions are obvious and extensive – she gets lumped in the same group. Going forward Saturdays are hug a board member day.

Lastly on the topic of the VP…… while he has numerous character faults, not to mention questionable morality and multiple challenges in the whole ethics area, which when combined with those questionable felonies and his voracious appetite for scaling non traditional sexual peaks makes for an interesting set of personal hurdles, he has been an incredible servant of this rugby club. His contributions over the last 10 years have been incredible and he deserves much of the credit for where this club is today. I think it’s important that the club encourages the VP back into the fold and recognizes his contributions over time.

Lets get the boat righted, pointed in the right direction and full steam ahead for another succesful season.

3 09 2009
katy

well i feel very removed from the whole situation. kimmy the baby mama filled me in a bit yesterday when she watched miles, but in general, i agree that elected officers do a ton of crucial, thankless work. i mean, just in my small role i end up spending HOURS the week of a game whittling down small details and communicating to the right people. i think the women’s coach does a really good job of emphasizing to the whole team that you can’t just show up…that the club needs to be managed and run administratively. between him and those elected officers being vocal at practice and over email, i sense we appreciate the importance of the board.

now, i cannot speak one bit for the men’s team. i barely know many of the players, especially given my one year absence. i guess i just hope they have the same sense of the importance of the people who make the club run.

did peter pan really quit for real for real? i can’t imagine it! i just can’t fathom it. i also can’t bear having to deal with the parks and rec people on my own, so pray selfishly for his return.

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