I wanted to begin my first President’s communication by thanking our departing Board Chair and now Past-President Jay Frezell, for his positive impact over the past six years. During his tenure Jay dedicated thousands of volunteer hours to help secure the Club’s viability in the future, and he has always been a passionate advocate for transparency, good governance and proper planning. Thank you, Jay!
For those of you who don’t know me, I have been a part of the NSWC landscape for many years. The first time began in 1974 when my parents moved here from Ontario to join the club, the second in 2006 when I rejoined for the benefit of my own kids. Like many of you, that combination of past and present offers me a unique perspective. As I begin my responsibilities as Club President, I’ve been reflecting on our Club and what it means to be a member and I’ve come to appreciate some of the lessons that history can provide us. In that vein, please allow me to tell you a story.
A few years ago, there were three generations of our family together as it often happens, and we were “debating” some current issue within the NSWC. For my brother and I, we tend to give impassioned, highly opinionated and often loud, diametrically opposed points of view (it can be great entertainment!). At some point in the discussion my parents stopped us. They had heard enough of our complaining and opinions on “what was wrong with” and “how to fix” a variety of topics such as outdoor tennis courts, coaching and chicken wings. Instead, they wanted to talk about their earlier times at the Club. I was somewhat surprised to hear how many fond memories they still had (our mom is 91)! They talked about the parties, the many friends they made, the volunteering, the pride of watching their boys on the ice but most importantly, the community they enjoyed at the Club.
No doubt the Club couldn’t have been perfect back then. I am sure they had challenges with the pool temperature, the quality of the pizza, the challenge of finding great staff, and a perpetual lack of money to get things fixed in a timely manner.
I’m also 100% sure, that in the true family fashion, they wrote some letters or sat around the Tiki Deck telling anyone who would listen about what the Board should be doing. Yet now, they don’t talk about that, or even seem to remember the ISSUES – and not because they’re old, but because after all these years, it turns out that’s not what really mattered. (Except for the hot tub – they remember that, I think it hasn’t worked since 1974!)
The point is, as I begin my tenure as your new President, (in addition to getting the kitchen open on a regular basis!), one of the things I will strive to foster within our membership is that same sense of happiness in our community. To encourage us to re-evaluate how important the ‘important’ things actually are. I am 100% confident that my oldest son will remember his many great teammates, his road trips to tournaments like the Winthrop Outdoor Classic and winning a few banners along the way. I doubt he will remember the times the ice wasn’t cleaned or the ref was late, or the one year he was made to wear a tie. My youngest son will remember his awesome tennis coach, not the fact that the outside courts are considered to be unplayable.
Are there lots of problems? Yes. Finding kitchen staff, the cost of membership, and deteriorating facilities are but a few. BUT, there are also loads of positives. There are great programs and coaches, numerous and recent improvements to the facilities, and a sense of comradery enjoyed by so many. For many there is family involvement, carpooling and there is happiness, satisfaction, and a genuine value for what we have. Our Club is much more than a rink or a court or a pool, it’s a community – a place to make friends, learn new sports, to socialize and connect.
As you read this, you may be nodding your head in agreement with the concerns that I’ve mentioned being paramount in your mind, and wondering just exactly what I intend to do about it. The truth is, that taken from the perspective of individual points of view, no one President or Board could ever hope to please everyone. What we can hope for and work towards together, is a greater good for the benefit of us, our kids and if we are lucky, their kids.
I come to this position with some personal goals and a strategy for improvement in three broad areas that I feel will offer the greatest improvement to the NSWC at this time. They are:
- Improvement of the club culture (inclusion, patience, support of others). The result: increased member satisfaction and increased member retention.
- Improvement of our brand in the community (increased involvement, support and reputation). The result: more new members.
- Strategic planning for major capital projects (facility and amenity repairs and upgrades). The result: increased member satisfaction, better value for the cost and hopefully a working hot tub!
All dreaming aside, it won’t be easy, but I am excited about what lies ahead. I am excited about the knowledge, passion and dedication displayed by your Board of Directors and their commitment to holding those positions. They will volunteer hundreds of hours per year, with more criticism than praise, and they will do it for the Greater Good. I am excited about the passion and commitment of our staff. They come to work each and every day knowing that they essentially have over 500 bosses and they hope to make each of them as happy as possible.
No club (or business) is immune to challenges, and in future communications I will update you on our progress on all of these important issues (and I will try not to be so long winded). I hope that you will view our efforts through a long-range lens, with an eye to patience, an ear to empathy, and your rationale to accept that sometimes the answer isn’t necessarily ‘no’, but simply, ‘not yet’.
In closing, it is my sincere hope that you are getting as much enjoyment as possible out of the NSWC. I challenge you to take a moment to think back over the years or months since you’ve joined and think about all the many positive experiences that you have had. Then, come to our Club knowing that you’ll make new friends, try new activities, find new ways to improve your health, spend quality family time and mostly, create even more memories.
James Cronk – Board President