BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: goalWA.net likes to shine a spotlight on soccer-related businesses in the State of Washington with our series “Business Spotlight.” This time we take a look at “GO!”
Ruth Nicholson is ready to GO! with a subscription-based service designed to improve youth sports organizations through proven processes and governance skills that prevent volunteers from reinventing the wheel and allow coaches to focus on the playing field.
She has combined her quarter-century expertise as a conflict resolution and organizational process guru with her passion for soccer into a digital business accessible to every youth organization, no matter their size, sport, or location.
The Seven Deadly Challenges
How Many of the Seven Deadly Challenges plague your youth sports organization?
- Our Director of Coaching has so much administrative work to do that s/he doesn’t have time to work with our coaches and our players on the soccer stuff.
- It takes forever to make a decision or get something done
- Our coaches need communication, management, and people skills.
- Our team managers and coaches are overwhelmed with administrivia, emails, and phone calls.
- We must recruit and train new volunteers over and over because we have such high turnover.
- We need sponsor dollars so that we can afford to run our club and do not have to charge so much for kids to play soccer.
- Conflicts between coaches, parents, board members, and administrators drive good people away from our club.
The antidotes to the Seven Deadly Challenges live in GO! Governance and Operations . It is a dynamic, online resource center featuring practical guides, templates, and training webinars designed to improve youth soccer club operations and leadership. For less than $5 per team per month*, GO! provides practical, affordable, and accessible resources to help clubs better support coaches and players on the field
The core value behind GO! is that the work of coaches, administrators, and board members should be focused on supporting players.
Sam Snow, Director of Coaching of US Youth Soccer has said:
“The more education we can do for team managers, tournament directors, club, state and national administrators the better off the game will be. …Still breathing should no longer be the criteria to administer soccer in our nation.”
Snow acknowledges that “still breathing” does not apply to all of the dedicated volunteers who handle the administrative tasks of our youth soccer clubs. However, there are few resources and training opportunities for administrators, board members, and other club leaders. Most coaching education is focused on the technical, tactical, physical, and mental components of the game, not the operational and organizational components.
What GO! Offers
GO! has been designed to address club pain points and gaps through three major offerings: GO! On Demand document and training library, GO! On Call, and GO! Enterprise.
The GO! On Demand document library contains dozens of documents, templates, and checklists organized in five major resource sections. Regular document additions keep the content up to date and supportive of emerging trends and issues.
- Board Productivity – easy to use tools to orient board members to their unique responsibilities, avoid micromanagement, and enable shorter meetings with better results.
- Unpaid and Paid Staffing – resources to help clubs train volunteers and retain critical institutional policies and procedures.
- Coaching Survival – includes the GO! Learn Howe series of resources from the private library of Bobby Howe, as well as field-tested tools to help Directors of Coaching manage coaching staffs and help coaches to improve their conflict resolution skills.
- Team Management – organically-developed resources to reduce team management hassles, including spreading out the workload and reducing the sense of empowerment on a single team manager volunteer.
- Financial Health – practical tools to help design sponsorship and marketing programs, as well as resources for getting and staying financially healthy.
GO! On Demand training and webinars (live and recorded) are provided on a monthly and weekly basis. They are also focused on the five major resource sections and include special webinars as a part of the GO! Learn Howe series and the GO! On Board with Sports Office 365 administrative issues series.
GO! On Call offers direct access to book one-on-one consulting time with experts in the areas of governance, administration, marketing, sponsorships, and coach and Director of Coaching mentoring.
All GO! features and resources are offered on a monthly subscription basis for individual clubs. GO! Enterprise is a special subscription package that provides additional exclusive training services for organizations who purchase multiple annual subscription packages for their member clubs.
Former US Soccer Director of Coaching and GO! contributor, Bobby Howe, explains that
“Ruth has developed a one-of-a-kind program offering valuable resources for leadership and administrative operations. These practical tools ease the administrative burden on Directors of Coaching and build the effective team of adults in coaching, leadership, and administrative roles needed to support our players.”
Who is Ruth Nicholson?
When GO! launched in early June, it was a dream come true for founder and creator, Ruth Nicholson. It combined two of her great loves.
For over 25 years, she has worked as a professional facilitator and mediator. Ruth’s firm, Nicholson Facilitation & Associates, based in Mill Creek, Washington, celebrated its 15th anniversary in May. Her work has involved building consensus in such contentious areas like nuclear waste cleanup, tribal treaty rights, and endangered species conservation. Ruth also has developed a facilitation course to teach others simple tools and approaches to work with groups and organizations.
Ruth started playing soccer in junior high because of Title IX, and she played recreationally for 35 years. She became a referee, referee assigner, coach, and stadium manager. Ruth’s love of soccer and her professional work became entwined when her sons’ clubs needed help organizationally. It was facilitation in a different color jersey!
She had developed a pile of practical resources that helped clubs run better. State and national organizations regularly invite her to design and present training workshops across the country. Ruth has become the go-to resource for youth sports conflict resolution.
At the request of state and national organizations, Directors of Coaching, administrators, and team coaches, Ruth has now pivoted her 25-year career in organizational development and conflict resolution to create GO! Governance & Operations.
Ruth’s passion is to better support players by helping the adults who make youth sports possible: coaches, administrators, board members, parents, and volunteers.
Chris Panayiotou, National Developmental Technical Director for Rush Soccer, notes that:
“Ruth has shaped the way for best practices at our club which has 75 branches in 42 states and 27 other countries. She has helped us integrate coaching and operations bringing us success on and off the field.”
What Comes Next?
In addition to adding new resources to GO!, Ruth is completing a book entitled Core Strength: Best Practices Are Not Good Enough. It is a practical guide to developing the core competencies for successful youth sports organizations. John O’Sullivan, Founder of the Changing the Game Project, says,
“Amongst the most overlooked aspects of running a youth sports organization are good governance, quality volunteer recruiting and training, and most of the behind the scenes daily tasks that make the operation run. No one knows more about these things than Ruth. In this book, she will share decades of experience in how to run a quality youth sports organization.”
Sample a Resource
For a FREE checklist of team volunteer roles, click here: Divide and Conquer: Team Volunteer Roles.
Jessie Costello, a head coach at Blackhills FC in Olympia, Washington, says,
“GO! is my one of my favorite resources for organizing my team off the field. I recently put into action the GO! idea to delegate more duties to parents to assist my team manager. I now have an equipment manager, community outreach manager, and fundraising manager. I have found the parents want to be involved more often than not, and it has created a more cohesive environment for my teams.”
Not only is Ruth Nicholson and GO! a local resource for our clubs, goalWA.net is proud to have her as a regular contributor. Look for Ruth’s tips on how to combat the Seven Deadly Challenges and other off-field issues in her popular bi-monthly column, “Off the Pitch”. Her goalWA.net articles have been picked up by multiple publications, including three US Youth Soccer online newsletters, the US Olympic Committee coaching education newsletter, and individual soccer club newsletters across the country.
GO! is a part of the Youth Sports Services branch of Nicholson Facilitation & Associates, LLC based in Mill Creek, Washington. Nicholson Facilitation has been offering organizational development, strategic planning, mediation, and youth sports services since 2002. The company website is www.NicholsonFacilitation.com.
*Based on an average of 20 teams