Lake City Athletic Club was crowned Club of the Year at the recent 2019 Bay of Plenty Sports awards. We talked to the Children’s Convenor Kelly Albrecht, about the club’s growth in junior membership over the past 12 months.
Lake City Athletic Club’s focus on families, fun and volunteers stood out to the judges of the 2019 Bay of Plenty Sports awards, and these values have helped the club to grow it’s junior membership from 145 in 2017/18 to more than 350 this season.
Kelly Albrecht took over the role of Junior Section Convenor mid-2018 and has been a key driver of the success of the junior club.
She puts it down to better communication with parents, improved Club Nights and relationship-building with the community.
“One of the biggest things I wanted to focus on was communication. I found that parents weren’t aware of the opportunities, they weren’t aware of events that were on offer.”
Kelly created a separate Facebook group for the club’s junior section to keep parents updated with club happenings, events and opportunities coming up.
The club also improved the running of club nights. The club had yellow club vests made for all parent helpers, volunteers and coaches to wear on club nights, so members could easily identify who to go to for help. Kelly would wear a pink club vest on the night, as the person to go to for registrations, coaching or other issues.
This season, after gaining feedback from parents, the club moved the five and six year olds to join the seven to nine year old programme, but modified their events suitable to their age and stage.
“We’ve had our biggest influx in the five year old kids. It’s gone from around 20 members two years ago to 47. The younger kids love doing what the older kids are doing.”
The 10-14 year old programme was separated to run at a later time and involves three blocks of specialised run, jumps and throws coaching, plus two races. Parents and seniors are encouraged to join in and Kelly describes this change as “lifting” the whole environment of the club. The club now has 70 members aged 10 to 14.
The club also changed its club night from Tuesday to Monday evenings to avoid clashing with the local touch rugby competition – the biggest growing sport in Rotorua.
“A lot of our athletes are touch players so I knew the only way it was going to work was by changing our club night. We didn’t want to compete with touch. We had a lot to lose by staying on a Tuesday, but a lot to gain by moving to a Monday. And that’s what has happened. My daughter invited seven of her touch team down to the track and now they’re involved with athletics. Working with other sports rather than against them has worked for us. Plus the touch organiser has enrolled his children in athletics too!”
Kelly credits building relationships with the community and talking to other winter sports clubs can help attract new members to athletics too.
The club has 51 athletes registered to go to the 2020 North Island Colgate Games in January – a big achievement for the Bay of Plenty club.