My name is Caitlin Doyle and I am the founder and president of the pickleball club team at James Madison University est. 2021. I am proud of how far JMU’s club has come and the amount of people it has brought together as it was one of the first collegiate pickleball teams created. During my JMU pickleball journey, I have grown professionally, specifically in leading an organization. If you have an idea for starting an organization, these 5 tips may be helpful in your own journey!
1. Find a small group of people who have a shared interest in the idea.
This step will help test if your idea is popular amongst others. For pickleball, I registered to play in an intramural tournament through UREC. During the tournament, I asked students participating if they would be interested in being part of a pickleball club team for JMU. I got a decent amount of positive responses so I gathered some of the students from the tournament to play pickleball leisurely after school at the public courts. Here, I was able to see who was most excited and dedicated to starting up a club team. By putting myself out there and playing this sport with strangers, I was able to find my Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
2. Pitch your idea to authority members and have a plan.
Finding the right person to help guide you in your first year is crucial in being successful. I was in close communication with the Director of Club Sports at JMU throughout the entire process of making the club official. The Director of Club Sports is the person who decides what will and will not be a club sport, so I had to get comfortable with frequent in-person meetings where I would pitch my plans to him. Plans included how we were thinking of structuring practices, tournaments, fundraisers, dues, etc. It is important to know the factors that could affect your organization and to have an outlined plan for them in advance.
3. Stay organized and do not be afraid to delegate.
Starting up an organization can be tricky as time passes. Paperwork starts to build up, emails are flooding in, and social media notifications are non-stop. As a leader, delegate tasks to the people who have roles in your organization. Each person in your organization is there to help and once you feel like you are about to explode with tasks, that is when you know you are taking on too much by yourself.
4. Create social media accounts to promote your organization.
Social media such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, are great places to generate interest for your organization. For instance, pickleball traveled to NC-State for a tournament and created an Instagram reel that included fun highlights from the weekend with a catchy song behind it. It received more likes than we had followers at the time and brought in new followers to our account. This is because the explore page feature on Instagram allows users to discover accounts that coincide with their interests. Instagram is a must to create your first account with, then as your organization attracts more attention, it is beneficial to expand to other platforms.
5. Strive to meet new goals each year.
Nothing is more defeating than being in an organization that never grows. Set goals at the beginning of the year for your organization whether it be an increase in instagram followers or an increase of active members. During our first pickleball season, we had 100 students interested in joining and 40 dues paying members. Now, in our second year, we doubled interest with 200 students interested and 70 dues paying members. This occurred because of our presence on social media as well as our drive to become more competitive. Keep striving to be better and remember that just “good” will not be good enough.
If you have an idea, run with it. Do not be afraid of putting the work in, because the end result is worth it. You got this!
If you are interested in joining the JMU pickleball club team:
Check out our website, https://www.jmu.edu/recreation/sports/sport-clubs/clubs/pickleball.shtml
Email us with any questions email@example.com
Follow us on Instagram@jmupickleball