Renmore Gymnastics Club has been around, on and off, for about thirty years since it was first established.
Over the past few years our club has really blossomed. We have grown from being a small club, then a medium sized club based in the local community centre, into now one of the largest gymnastics clubs in Ireland, training close to 400 gymnasts each week in a dedicated 8000 square foot facility. And we aren’t finished growing yet!
There is no single factor which has resulted in the club becoming what it is today. Rather, there are many things which have contributed to our success. These include, above all, proportional amounts of enthusiasm, dedication, hard work, and serendipity. Here are some of the key factors to which I attribute the current success of the club.
- An inspired and inspirational leader. The one constant through the past six or seven years of growth in our club has been this girl named Sally Batley who was blown into Galway on a storm that passed through England. Sally has led us, not through a leadership of authority, but one of exemplary enthusiasm and dedication. She has been a pillar around which we can rally (we should call her Rally Sally). Go Sally Go!
- A child-centric focus. Everyone involved in the club has the welfare of the children members as the primary concern. Renmore Gymnastics Club is not a commercial undertaking, but a non-profit community based organisation. We are interested not in making money, but in bringing out the full potential of every child who becomes a member of our club. The measure in which we are able to help each gymnast achieve her or his own potential is ultimately the measure of our own success. It’s about the kids.
- Dedicated parents and coaches. Gymnastics wouldn’t happen were it not for dedicated parents to bring their children to the gym week in and week out, and the dedicated coaches who receive them each week into the gym. Some of our parents bring their children three or four days each week. We have a great and international team of coaches, some of whom are in the gym five or six days each week. Both parents and coaches recognise the goodness of what is going on. This is dedication.
- A commitment to social justice. While this might not intuitively seem to be a factor leading to the success of a gymnastics club, I percieve it to be one of the essential elements. Coaches are as much needing and deserving of a fair wage and an assurance of livelihood as anyone else. Our coaches are employees with everything “above the board”. On the other side, we believe also that gymnastics should not be in the realm of the elite, and we try to keep the cost as minimal as possible to families in order to make this a non-barrier. Commitment by parents in paying term fees ensures the sustainability of the club.
- Separation of responsibilities. Our club directors don’t make coaching decisions, and our coaches don’t sign the cheques. Petty issues about “my child wants to train with her friend” don’t arise to directors level. Maybe they don’t arise at all. Coaches don’t worry about who is going to pay for the rent or the heat. Coaches coach, and directors direct.
- Volunteers. Without a significant amount of volunteer effort by parents and coaches, the operation of our club simply wouldn’t be feasible. We have volunteer directors who spend significant hours each month in running the club, coaches who put in many hours outside of the gym and sometimes on Sundays, parents who organise fund raising and other club related activities. Without these people the club would not survive. Three cheers for volunteers!
- Technology. It would be a nightmare to manually calculate and collect fees each term from over 300 families each having various numbers of children training different hours each week. We have made good use of technology to turn this into a manageable process.
- Local Community Support. We have received financial support from our local government, prizes from the local credit union, and raffle prizes from local businesses. Together with support of our fund raising activities by individuals, local community support has helped to ensure the club is viable. Thank you to all our supporters!
This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive – it gives an indication of some of the key factors which have contributed to the current success of our gymnastics club. Maybe you think it all comes down to something else? What works/doesn’t work in your club? Leave a comment!