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Newsletter Mar 30 2020

2020-03-30 10:48 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Dear Member - click the newsletter title to read articles on:

 NOT Business As Usual  Welcome Gary Spencer
 AGM Online Solution  Membership Renewal
 Facebook Presence  More Leaders Training
 Non-Competitive Play  Closing Thoughts

NOT Business as Usual

These are definitely trying times.  We feel your pain, we share your anguish.  But we also know, and hope you know, that we can all get through this.  Our world, our communities, our families, and we as individuals can and will get through these trying times.  

It is definitely NOT business as usual, in any part of our lives.  But knowing we will get through this, we carry on with our planning, with our caring, and our doing.  Perhaps, for some of us, "carrying on" is therapy -- a diversion. For others, it is confidence, or duty, or honour, or love for our fellow pickleball player and fellow inhabitant of this small planet.  Whatever the reason, we hope you know this newsletter and all our actions, are carried out with you, our members, in our hearts.

Be well, stay safe and stay strong.

Your caring board, Eileen, Gary, Douwe, Ray, Claude, and Gary

Welcome Gary Spencer, Communications Director

Yes, we now have two Gary's on our board. Please join us in welcoming Gary Spencer, our new Communications Director. Gary, a new and active club member, graciously and generously offered his time to serve on our board.

We quickly jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of his expertise in communications, business management, and strategic planning, not to mention his information technology skills. As is our practice, Gary was informally interviewed by our Nominating Committee (thanks Mike Bowen) and at our March 28 online board meeting, he was unanimously voted in. 

We are very much looking forward to working with Gary and spreading the workload out even more -- an objective the board has been successfully pursuing all year, as recommended by our Nominating Committee and by you, our members.

Annual General Meeting (AGM) - Online Solution

We are required to have one of these AGMs every year, and you deserve the annual opportunity to review the progress our club has made, provide input to the club's future directions, review our finances, elect new board directors, and (if you've let us know in advance) to raise any other matters you'd like the club to consider.

Of course, we can't meet in person unless we get a big space to keep everyone separated and limit attendance, but that still has some health implications -- and your health and safety is too important to risk for this purpose. So we are looking to have this AGM online. That means you would use a computer and some software to connect in a video-conference call.  If you are familiar with Facetime on an iPad or iPhone, or Skype on other devices, you already know how to do this with those programs.  Other video-conferencing apps or programs operate similarly.  We would need to use a program suited to a larger number of participants than Facetime can handle.

Before the June AGM, we would provide specific instructions on how to access and use the software you can help us pick.  There appear to be two fairly economical software products that might suit our needs: Google Hangouts Meet and Zoom.  We know there are at least a dozen other products out there as well, but we're focusing our research on these two for now, as our own experience with Google Hangout Meet is favourable and Zoom is definitely an industry leader in this area.  More specifically:

  • There is no additional cost for us to use Google Hangouts Meet, it works well for our online Board meetings, and meets all of our requirements except for an integrated online voting capability.
  • The cost to use Zoom on a one time basis is very small, and Zoom incorporates online voting (polling) capability.
  • Both of these products have base (non-corporate) version that can apparently accommodate up to 100 participants.  However the free version of Zoom only allows meetings of up to 40 minutes, so we'd have to purchase the next version up to have a longer online AGM.

We have two questions for you:

  1. Are you okay with this video-conferencing approach for an AGM?  (We really have no other choice if we wish to have an AGM in June and stay in compliance with our bylaws, but we'd like your input on this question anyway.  If you are not okay, do you have an alternative we may have overlooked?)
  2. Should SAPC:
    1. go with the cheaper product, even though it means our AGM would have to be broken into two parts: a video-conference session followed by voting via separate communications, or
    2. spend a few bucks and test out Zoom?

If you have an opinion on this, or have experience using the low-cost version of either of these products with audiences of 50 to 80 participants, please email Info@pickleballstalbert.ca and treasurer@pickleballstalbert.ca

Together, we're smarter, stronger and better.

Membership Renewals


Our new membership management system is set up to issue reminders to any member who has not renewed:

  • 60 days and 10 days before the Apr 30 membership expiry, and
  • Apr 30, the day of membership expiry.

We understand some of you may not want to renew until some form of organized play resumes. That is okay, for the most part. We just wanted to let you know though that we still plan to have an Annual General Meeting in June (it will likely be online as described in the above article), and you need to be a member to participate in this meeting.  So please do renew your membership by April 30 if you plan to be part of our AGM -- and we sure hope you do!

By the way, the requirement to be a member to vote in our AGM is something our membership agreed as part of our bylaws, and this is a typical requirement for non-profit organizations like ours.

For those who would still prefer to delay renewing their membership:

    • After April 30, you will no longer get emails notifying you of club news postings, but you will still be able to read those postings on our web-site.
    • For up to 12 more months, you will be able to log-in with your password to renew your membership, without having to recreate your profile.
    • Until you renew your membership, you will not be able to:
    • purchase sticker cards,
    • participate in indoor organized play at member (1-sticker) rates, or
    • participate in member-only sessions such as shoot-outs, ladders or other reserved play.

However, you will be able to participate in indoor organized play at visitor (2-sticker) rates.

We don't know how long it will be before we can resume organized play.  Hopefully, it will be in time to catch at least part of the outdoor season.  But if it is not, the indoor season will provide more than enough value to justify your annual membership. 

Frankly, your board did consider lowering the annual fee for 20/21 and giving a partial credit to those who have already paid their annual membership.  But a sober second thought prevailed, because:

  • Our fee is already extremely low, compared to memberships in other pickleball clubs and in other sports.
  • There is even better value in our club as we offer more play times per year, on a per-member basis, than others.
  • $10 of each membership goes to Pickleball Alberta and Pickleball Canada, so there is limited room for reduction.
  • It is administratively burdensome to generate manual credits and refunds or to administer  multiple or mid-year changes to membership fees.
  • There is also a growing need to build the financial capacity to have even more play facilities in future. Reducing fees reduces our capacity to keep building for the future.
So the membership fee will remain at $30 per year for 2020/21, and we hope you still consider that to be great value, even with a reduced play season.

Facebook Presence Enhanced

We love it when members and leaders come forward with ideas.  Tara Tchir, our Facebook Coordinator, took a seminar on social media and spotted a hole in our Facebook presence. Facebook is another portal for organizations to the outside world, and we were missing a piece of that -- a page that would direct the curious, including potential members in St. Albert, to our website and to our club. Tara has now filled that void by creating such a Facebook page for us.  

Note that this new Facebook page is different than the private (closed) Facebook group we already had, and it serves a different purpose. Our new Facebook page extends our reach into the community and helps secure our position as THE pickleball club in St. Albert. You can invite anyone on Facebook to join this page that you think would be interested in the world of pickleball.  Posts on the page will be limited to admin only, as it is solely to promote our club and website. 

Thanks Tara, both for your idea and for implementing it for our club.

Our members-only Facebook Group continues to be a place where members can share (post) information with each other about any pickleball or club-related matters.  Members can use this site, for example, to set up play times with each other, set up other social connections, communicate (non-officially) about lost and found items, and entertain each other with pickleball related humour and news. The club may occasionally use the site to communicate some urgent play changes, but these communications are unofficial and are not consistently provided -- the website play calendars, our other website content, and our emails are the only official electronic means of club communications to members. 

Just less than half our members have joined the Facebook group -- but all are connected to our website. As long as one follows the guidelines, any added member can post in our 'St. Albert Pickleball - members only' group. You must be a current member to join or remain in our closed Facebook group.  

More Leaders Training to Use our Technology

As you may gather from past rating clinic advertisements, our Rating Clinic Coordinators Gerry Gartner and Karen Cabot were handling (and will someday soon again be handling) rating clinic registrations using our new Wild Apricot membership system.

Next, Faye Hood, Gerry Hood, Ron Parker and Carolyn Ross, leaders of our tournament teams, were shown how to use the new system to handle online tournament registrations.  Whenever our next tournament is held, these fine folks are ready to go with the use of our new system too.

With the suspension of all play, including reserved play, we have given up our subscription to Sign Up Genius (SUG).  Does that mean shootout play and other reserved play is dead?  Not at all!  When we are ready to go again, reserved play will be handled through our new Wild Apricot (WA) website and membership management system. This was part of the business case for adopting the WA technology, and we're happy to trim some of our IT costs by giving up SUG, knowing that our WA software can handle it all.  And, you guessed it, our Registered Play Coordinator, Carol Peabody, is eager to learn our software so she can post and manage our reserved play using WA in future.

And last but not least, Gary Spencer, our new Communications Director, has already begun learning to use WA. He will be editing and producing our next newsletter and email alert, and then we know he'll be eagerly seeking even more ways to help all of us serve you, our membership.

Non-Competitive Play

Our survey results are still being analyzed and formatted for publication, but your board has already considered one of the apparent conclusions of the survey: many members are not rated, would prefer to never be rated, and are really only seeking some fun, non-competitive play.

Yes, we already knew that, and we hear you now.  To respond, we will offer more non-competitive play opportunities in the future.  These are called "All Play" sessions in our calendar.  Captains at these sessions are hereby encouraged to pass on the message to members at these sessions that the emphasis at these sessions is fun, not winning. (Cheering a good shot is always appropriate, of course, but comments on a missed shot are never appropriate -- even if directed at yourself -- but especially if directed at someone else.)

Now this promise of more All Play is conditional. As with any organized play changes, we will start small. Play at any level must be well attended or we will seek to change that play to a form that draws more participation. You wouldn't want it any other way, would you? 

Captains are always in demand. Without captain volunteers, there can be no play.  When play resumes, we will especially need captains for All Play and for the 2.0-2.5 level play.

Stay tuned for more survey results and responses.

Closing Thoughts

This club is yours. The board and all of the club's team leaders, managers, coordinators, captains and other volunteers, are only its temporary stewards, acting on your behalf.

What role are you going to play in our club next year?  To paraphrase a President, "Ask not what your club can do for you, but what you can do for your club!"

Until the next time, "Keep your paddle up!"


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