Starting a New Club

So, you are thinking about starting a new club? The most important thing to be mindful of is that you are about to launch a small business. This takes time, resources, know-how, and a strong vision of where you are going and how you will get there. A few important questions to ponder are:

    1. Does your area need a figure skating club or an additional figure skating club?
    2. Do you have a viable feeder system in place so your club will continue to grow in one year? Five years?
    3. Do you have the right people in place to not only form but flourish after you are provisional?
    4. Why should people join your club? What can you offer to your future members?
    5. Have you started to develop a business plan?

The following information should help you to formulate a plan while you are considering starting a new club. This is a brief summary of the information found within the How to Form a New Club manual. This by no means is a complete list; consider it a starting point. There are three steps to becoming a full member club and the entire process can take up to two years to complete:

    1. Interim
    2. Provisional
    3. Full

*Before you begin the planning stages, please contact your sectional vice-chair of membership to assist you with getting started. Contacts:

Dr. Louis DiToppa, - Eastern Sectional Vice Chair for Membership

Sue Clemente, - Midwestern Sectional Vice Chair for Membership

Lexi Rohner, - Pacific Coast Sectional Vice Chair for Membership*

To download the complete manual and the qualifications for interim and provisional membership, click here (PDF).

1. U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook
Persons seeking to establish a new skating club should secure a copy of the current official rulebook and understand all Membership Rules (MR 1.00).

Per U.S. Figure Skating bylaws, Article V:

Any club fostering figure skating may apply in writing for membership and, if satisfactory and upon compliance with all requirements of U.S. Figure Skating, may be elected a provisional or full member club by a vote of two-thirds of the votes cast of the Governing Council present in person or by proxy at an annual meeting. If an application for membership is received in the period between meetings of the Governing Council, the applicant may be admitted to interim membership until the next annual meeting of the Governing Council in such manner and upon such terms as may be set forth in the official rules of U.S. Figure Skating. Interim and provisional member clubs have only such privileges as are specified therein.

The members should also be familiar with the rules on sanctions and eligibility, club ethics, principal skating headquarters, and the contents of the rulebook.

2. Developing your mission statement
Answers "WHO are we?" and "WHY do we exist?" WHY are we committed to support that existence? Your mission is the fundamental purpose of your organization. It clarifies to your membership and the public why you exist.

3. Club Programs, Services and Benefits
Why should someone join your club? Club programs and services should be designed to meet the specific needs of its membership. To be attractive, your membership package must provide clear benefits such as:

  • Practice sessions for all disciplines of figure skating
  • Conducting U.S. Figure Skating test sessions
  • Developing a strong relationship with all local feeder systems and programs
  • Hosting Basic Skills, nonqualifying and qualifying competitions
  • Hosting exhibitions, ice shows and other performances
  • Hosting annual membership meetings and membership drives
  • Fundraising activities
  • Offering skater grants and financial support to members
  • Rewards and recognition for member accomplishments
  • Hosting judges, referees, accountants and technical schools
  • Hosting training camps, clinics and seminars
  • Conducting other programs such as off-ice training and educational seminars for skater development
  • Offering coach development programs
  • Delivering parent education programs
  • Organizing social activities
  • Member of an interclub association

Consult the "Expectations of U.S. Figure Skating Member Clubs" for more information.

4. Board of Directors

Serving on a figure skating board is not only a huge responsibility but a privilege. One needs to remember that he or she is an ambassador for the sport of figure skating as well as his or her local club. According to nonprofit corporation law, a board member must meet certain standards of conduct and attention to his or her responsibilities to the club. To find a list of board member job descriptions, click here (PDF). To find more information on Formation of a Nonprofit Corporation, click here.

Role of the Board

  • Acts as the fiduciary and guardian of the organizational assets
  • Reviews and approves club's annual budget
  • Establishes short- and long-term goals
  • Assesses progress toward goals
  • Assumes stewardship responsibility for club finances
  • Sets policies for the overall management and operation of the club

Expectations of Board Members

  • Attend regularly scheduled board meetings
  • Participate in committee work
  • Become informed about the policies and programs of the club
  • Participate in fundraising activities and special events sponsored by the club
  • Contribute financially according to ability
  • Participate in board orientation activities
  • Act as an informed advocate of the club

5. Bylaws
A set of bylaws is to be submitted with the application for approval by the national vice chair for rules and policies of the Membership Committee. Bylaws are the legally binding rules that outline how the board of a nonprofit will operate. All nonprofit organizations need these regulations to help determine how they are to be governed. In order to ensure that your club is fairly governed and legally protected, board members need clear and concise bylaws that address critical organizational issues. Bylaws are a guide and a reference on how a club is structured, what rights the participants/members have and the procedures by which those rights can be put into effect.

This document must be tailored to the particular needs of your own organization. There should be provisions for making changes to the bylaws if something has been missed on the first attempt. In addition, you must include a provision for conflict resolution in your club. The procedure can be part of your bylaws or the bylaws can point to an adopted procedure. To find a sample set of bylaws, please visit the Clubs Resources and Forms page.

6. Dues - The primary source of revenue for your club will be from the fees assessed to members. All member clubs set their own fees and membership categories. Your particular local requirements will dictate what the fees should be based upon the level of benefits or services your club offers. A portion of the fees collected from your members will be submitted to U.S. Figure Skating, making them both members of your own club and members of U.S. Figure Skating. Different membership categories to consider when designing your club include full home, subsequent home, associate, introductory, coaching, collegiate, alumni, supportive and Basic Skills. SKATING magazine is included for the first member of each family.

For more information about U.S. Figure Skating member club and for a full list of membership dues and categories, please see the current U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook - MR 5.00 Qualifications, Dues and Fees.

7. Developing Your Business Plan
Strategic planning determines where an organization is going, how it intends to get there and how it will evaluate its progress. Defining your mission and values are important first steps.

The next step, your SWOT analysis, examines the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing your program. Divide a piece of paper into the four sections and brainstorm each one, taking into account internal and external factors. An internal strength could be a reliable staff, while an external threat could be the national economy. Consider as many information sources as possible. To find a template of a SWOT analysis, please visit the Clubs Resources and Forms page.

Next, define your goals and strategies for the year. Aim for turning your opportunities into programs and overcoming your weaknesses by using your strengths. Don't waste time worrying about factors you cannot control. Instead, consider creative ways to address them. Check the manual for sample questions to begin your strategic planning session.

8. Communication Plan - Internal and External
It is extremely important that there be established means of communication between the leadership of the club and its members. Develop a plan to communicate with your members via e-newsletters, updated website, social media, bulletin boards at your home facility, phone trees, etc. It is also essential that you also establish a good working relationship with the media that are responsible for covering your local area.

9. Coaching Staff
A strong figure skating club is a direct result of the quality of professional coaches and instructors associated with it. Most important, your staff must follow all coaching requirements set forth by U.S. Figure Skating, qualified, well trained and an asset to your club. There are many different ways to establish a strong working relationship with your coaching staff. Staying current on all coaching regulations will help ensure your success. To find more specific information on hiring and working with your coaching staff, please visit the Coaches area of the website.

10. Strong Rink Relations
One of the most essential components of any successful club operation is the ability to work well with your local rink. The relationship that the club is able to develop with the rink is a true partnership and should be approached this way. Each rink operation will be different and offer unique opportunities. Some rinks will rent the ice to the club and let the club operate figure skating and possibly even Learn to Skate USA. Other rinks will operate their own figure skating and Learn to Skate USA sessions, allowing the club to conduct the test sessions and competitions. It is the option of the rink manager to decide which operation they select. Either way, the club and the rink need to establish a positive working relationship. Both methods of operation can work well for the club, provided there is a good relationship.

Go to Club Resources and Forms to find more information on running a figure skating club.