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Pebbles to Boulders: End of Season, What Next?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - Posted by Mort Cooper

No sooner has your program started, and now the end of the season is here. The Little Rockers have worked hard and just as they are showing improvement, the season comes to a close. So let’s look at whether the program for the season was a success or not!!

Yes we are talking about evaluation of the program… a report card of sorts. So many people fear evaluations, thinking that a poor evaluation looks poorly on you personally. I look at evaluations as an opportunity to grow, with new ideas or concepts that will only help strengthen the section for the future.

There are several ways to look at evaluating the program. One way ‘not’ to evaluate is the size of the section. Size does not mean everything! (Where have you heard that before?) From community to community, there could be factors influencing size of the section that are out of your control, such as economic changes in the region or general decline in population growth.

For self-evaluation of the Little Rock program, I like to look at the attendance record sheet. The attendance record tracks each week the curlers who have shown up that day. It is easy to tell at a glance your participation levels. If there are some curlers who are away numerous times, it might come in handy to ask why. Their reasons may not be related to curling at all. But if their reasons are curling related, you may wish to consider any concerns as part of the evaluation and look at program adjustments to correct this.

Volunteer attendance is another good indicator for program evaluation. There is no better incentive for volunteers to show up each week than enjoyment and fulfillment. Remember, these people are not being financially rewarded, so their payment needs to come in other forms. Again, like with the kids, if there is a lack of regular volunteer attendance, it may be from issues related to the program or it may not. It does not take much in asking to find out, and if their reasons are not too personal, most people are willing to discuss their reasons why and provide feedback.

An end of the season volunteer committee meeting is also a good idea. This provides your key partners to the program an opportunity to constructively analyze the activity. These people are with the kids week in and week out and understand the baseline working of the program. Every once in awhile, it is always nice for the president of a company to ask the janitor what is going on within his company. A barbeque at home would be a wonderful social and relaxed way to share ideas about the season and to get ready for year.

Parental feedback is always key to any Little Rock program evaluation. Hopefully, parents know their kids better than anyone to determine the childs level of enjoyment over the season. You may wish to generate an evaluation form to communicate with parents. Like the involvement of your volunteers, keep the survey task brief and clear. If the survey is too long, it won’t be completed and after awhile, you’ll get tired to reviewing them anyways. Ask questions such as or related to the following; Times of day and length of program duration; Registration process and fees; Program content; Social activities; Communications; On-ice instruction; 3 best things done; 3 things which could be improved; Other comments; and, Will you be returning. For the majority of the questions, you’ll want a rating system supplied with each question. Let us say 1 for very poor, 2 for poor, 3 for okay, 4 for satisfactory and 5 for very satisfactory.

When it comes to program development, sometimes curling clubs do not know a good thing when they have it right in front them. So before you make any major changes, look around you first. I am aware of a club that makes ice available once a week for an active high school league. The fees paid are the same as for juniors in the club, which are very fair. The club tells the schools they may curl for an hour and a half. The start time is set and the finish time is set… do not start sooner or finish later, or there will be consequences. Keep in mind, there is time to start earlier, but this is not made available for some reason. If games run a little late, (six ends are played) they are to finish their game early, for there is another draw coming on after. When the schools ask for more ice time, this seems to be a problem; extra practice time is not available. Again, do not know why, for the time is there. This same club conducts junior curling on Sunday mornings. In the past, this time seems to have worked, but is not working these days. The club would like to have the high schoolers to participate in juniors, but they do not come out. Mainly because it is Sunday morning and what do teenagers do best on weekends…sleep…. and there are part-time jobs for the kids to consider as well. There are more high school curlers than junior curlers. Go figure!

Here is a case where the club could just take a look at itself (evaluate) to see they already have a flourishing youth program with high schools. If the club were to provide a little more service to this group, the number of participants just might grow and certainly the skill development would be enhanced by the additional ice time. The club could then take credit for a terrific service offered. It seems that after school is a good time of day for this group, in this market, to curl. In addition, the club could take a look at the ice time in the afternoons after Little Rocks, to consider moving the junior schedule to a more awake period of the day for the teenagers. Just a thought!



About Mort Cooper
Mort Cooper has been a curling administrator for over 25 years, beginning with 10 years as the Executive / Technical Director for the Ontario Curling Federation. He spent 3 years as the Curling Professional at Brantford Golf and Country followed by 10 years as Club Manager / Ice maker at the Brant Curling Club and one year as the General Manager of Guelph Curling Club. Presently, he is working on a semi-retirement career with a few outdoor pursuits, one of which is a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol System with Snow Valley Ski Resort in Barrie. In a volunteer curling capacity, Mort's career is highlighted with 10 years service as the Technical Advisor with the Uniroyal Goodrich World Junior Curling Championships, and along with his wife Donna, are major contributors to the Tim Hortons Little Rock Resource Guide. Mort acts as a resource on Little Rocks and is a Business of Curling Facilitator with the Canadian Curling Association.

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