Sunday, September 10, 2006

Reply from the NCVA Chair Sept 8 (NCVA volleyball)

(photo courtesy of Arctic Ferret who has nothing to do with Northern California Volleyball)

Three months and 2 days after the parent group met with the NCVA , I received a letter from Diane Mazzei.  The letter is officially a response to the letter sent by the group  to the NCVA on August 1. This appears to constitute the direct response of the NCVA to the parent group. I'll refrain from comment. The original parts of Ms. Mazzei's letter are in bold italic. I would mention that the parent group obtained her e-mail from someone who didn't know her from work and who had been using it. We do understand that some people may have issues with things they receive or send in the mail through their work.   

Dear _______, I hope all is well with you.  This letter contains two parts 1) A response to each of your questions-in bold italics (letter dated August 16, 2006) and 2) General Comments
  1. As you are aware, one of our recommendations was that parents should constitute at least 25% of the board. We were looking at the bylaws and noted that the only identified way to add a board member would be for a member of the current board to nominate someone thirty days (30) in advance of a board meeting.
We do not know when the next board meeting is scheduled to take place (Ms. Donaghy didn’t mention one in her most recent e-mail), so the group would like to nominate three potential board members, and we are specifically requesting your assistance in moving this along (assuming that you are willing to help us, if not please pass this request on to the other current board members). At least one member of the parent group may have been nominated already, but there doesn’t appear to be any way to confirm when such a nomination occurs.In any case, the group feels that it has three individuals who have a mix of experience and skills that should serve the region and more importantly our children well. We do understand that the current board has the minimum 5 members and no current member of the board appears to be a parent. We recognize that the board has not yet determined that it will designate seats for parents, but given the 30-day issue and the fact that we don’t know the board’s meeting schedule we hope you can work with us.

The NCVA Board of Directors values parent representation on the Board.  We have every intention of maintaining that standard.  All of the members of the NCVA Board of Directors are at-large members and do not represent one specific stakeholder group and/or division.  Our next Board meeting is in November.  Per your request, I will pass this on to other members of the Board to see if they are interested in nominating ____, ____, ______.  I can assure you that one of the next members to be added to the NCVA Board will be a parent of an active NCVA Jr. Player.  

  1. There does not appear to be a policy at this point about the publication of minutes, at least not in the bylaws. We’d like to request a copy of the minutes for any meetings from the last two years (2005 and 2006). If it is a matter of NCVA policy not to share its minutes with its constituents, could you please let us know that specifically?

You have received this information in previous correspondences, the current policy of the NCVA Board of Directors is not to post or share its minutes with its constituents.
Would it be possible for NCVA constituents to know when and where board meetings are held and what the public agenda items are in those meetings? If it’s the Region’s policy not to reveal the time and place of its meetings, please let us know that that’s the case.
Correct, the current policy of the NCVA Board of Directors is not to post its agendas.  This is on the agenda to discuss at the Board level in future meetings.

  1. We did get an e-mail from Ms. Donaghy mentioning that we should keep working with region staff around “operational” matters, while the board would respond to us when it came to matters requiring board authority. The group does have some concerns and seeks clarification around both the issues of background checks and the Region’s due process procedures described in the handbook. We’re not sure if these are “Board” matters or “Operational” matters.
Due process is at the Board level and is done by the NCVA corporate lawyer.

Background checks are governed by our National Governing Body (NGB) USA Volleyball, information and policy is set by them and forwardd to the NCVA and its Board for implementation.

In our first meeting with Region staff, Ms. Donaghy let us know, much to our relief, that there have been no problems with sex offenders or molestation issues in the region. We have received some information since our meetings that such issues may have come up in the fairly recent past within the region. As parents interested in protecting our children, we would like to get some clarification on this.

Certainly understandable
I recognize that this is delicate and involves multiple confidentiality issues, but are parents entitled to know how many incidents or even accusations there have been within the region over the last ten years? Is it the policy of the region not to release any information about these concerns? If so, how can parents take care in cases of individuals who might not be say, on Megan’s list, but who have been accused in some way that does not meet the criminal standard or even the NCVA’s standard, but possibly meets a parent’s standard for concern?
Again standards are set by USA Volleyball.  I believe Jon Lee has also answered this question for you.
If the NCVA office staff receives any written/signed complaints dealing with the above issues, against any NCVA coach, the office staff immediately researches the complaint and contacts the Club director of the coach.  We take these matters very seriously and follow protocol set by our NGB.  A question parents need to ask their Club directors:”have you received any complaints against any of your coaches regarding the topics listed above?”

I noticed from the handbook that the background check provisions were implemented in 2003-2004, some 8 years after the due process issues came up in the Midwestern case. Did the region have a background check policy in place prior to 2003?
The Regions have known for sometime that USA was working on a background policy; the Regions worked with them so we could all have a standard policy which became in affect (sic.) during the 2003-2004 season.
In any case, have there been any accusations made in the last 5 years against people associated with NCVA clubs? We do not need specifics, but given that we have no way to communicate directly with the board, we are asking the question in this way. If there have been, how often has the NCVA’s due process system been used since its inception?
If you are asking the question if the due process system was used for the topic of background checks the answer would be none.  If the adult person was reported that he was declined for membership with any region this “person” receives his due process directly with the screening company., “not the Regions or USA Volleyball.  Only if the screening company has made a mistake, will the adult be reinstated with the Region.  This would be reported both to the Region Commissioner and USA Volleyball.  
What we can and what we cannot disclose about individuals is governed by the screening company, approved by USA Volleyball, NCVA is following these guidelines.  

  • As a second matter, this was not in the Powerpoint presentation, but was discussed in our meeting with staff at USF prior to the board meetings. While there does seem to be a due process system in place, there is no defined system of how one makes a complaint that guarantees some level of protection for the accuser. It’s not even clear at this point to whom one may make a complaint to with some assurance of an investigation.
All concerns and complaints to go directly to the NCVA Commissioner (sic).  Is this your concern?  You can schedule a meeting, e-mail the information or mail a letter.  You can be assured this is all confidential.  The NCVA office staff has revised the NCVA Girls’ handbook to ensure that the procedure to file a complain is made clear.

We would like to know if this is a board matter or an item to be worked out with region staff. Finally, we’d like to work with the Region on this critical level of protection for our children. There was a recent case in Palo Alto that reminds us how difficult it can be and how much more prevalent the problem is than most imagine. As we said, we were glad to hear that the region has never had problems of this sort. Personally, it makes me feel a bit over-cautious to worry about this sort of thing, but as someone charged with the welfare of the thousands of children who play in NCVA, you most certainly understand our interest in having the most effective system possible in this area. In particular, I have regular dealings with the Department of Human Services in my county and would be happy to help the region develop reporting procedures based on the way other agencies handle them.
The NCVA Board and office staff shares your interest in ensuring a safe and protective environment for our youth.  We believe our system that we have in place is solid and has proven to be very effective throughout the years..
The NCVA office staff follows the policy sset by USA Volleyball our NGB regarding this matter.

  1. Finally, we would like to request a copy of the NCVA’s articles of incorporation. There remain some details of how the organization works that still remain unclear to us. For instance, now that we have the bylaws it appears to be a membership organization with the board members being the only members, but do the articles that create the organization make it a membership or non-membership organization? It’s hard for us to tell without the articles themselves.?

Our corporate lawyer based our bylaws on our articles of incorporation.  Our bylaws and articles of incorporation are all congruent.  Your statement is correct; the only members of the NCVA region are the members of the Board.
Obviously, the question of what the rights of NCVA constituents happen to be has been on the group’s collective mind. In particular, USAV appears to have policies calling for “democratically” run regions. The parent group is trying to get a clearer idea of what that means to the current board and staff. Since we don’t at this point have minutes or any say in nominating board members, we are left to request a written response on the precise “meaning” of the term within our region.

I can appreciate your question.  The NCVA strives to be a responsive and proactive entity.  Many of our existing policies are a direct result of input and comment from NCVA club coaches, directors, parents, and players.  This process does however take time to develop-but in the end the results are positive.  The Board evaluates NCVA policies on a continual basis-constantly striving for solid and sound practices.
Part II: General Comments

I understand that you believe that the Board is being dismissive of your PP presentation (Mr. ----‘s email dated August 23, 2006).  The board has been and will continue to discuss many of the items included in your Presentation, as promised.  Many of the topiocs are things we have made changes to and/or plan to address-the 2006-2007 Girls’ Handbook will reflect some of these changes.  Many of your questions have been answered several times either by the NCVA Commissioner, NGB, NCVA Girls’ Handbook, or by the NCVA Board.  We sincerely appreciate and share your desire to see the NCVA serve as many people as well as possible.  After much deliberation, the Board decided many of your concerns (Power Point) are vital issues for the entire region.  So rather than simply replyto you, ---., ---- we are preparing an open letter to the NCVA community-this letter should be considered another step towards improving what we consider to be your most important point: communication.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with NCVA established policies and practices; however, I ask that you respect them.  You have stated several times in your letters that you want to work with the Region in an non-adversarial fashion yet you ignored our established practice of contacing Board members via the NCVA office and contacted me at my place of work.  It is my hope that this will not happen again.  

In any case, we hope you are doing well. We look forward to working cooperatively with both the staff and the board (maybe some day very soon some members of the parent group can join you on the board). I’m sorry to make these requests in such formal sounding fashion, but we thought it might help clarify some questions that didn’t get touched on in the 30 minutes we had before the board back in June, before we did hear from NCVA.
I also look forward to working cooperatively with all of our constituents.Regards,Cc: Jon Lee, Donna Donaghy

Link to my other volleyball articles



At 9/14/2006 07:49:00 AM, Blogger None said...

Just one thing...
I read constantly how sports are good for our youth.. Builds confidence.. self-esteam.. Dont get me wrong.. those things are great.

However, my experince has left a bit to be desired. The more intense the competition. ie. Div-1 anything or even high school athletes. Sports have driven some to eating disorders, issues with self, enormous egos.. ect. Both sides need to be delt with. Anyway, I hope that wasnt too hard to read

At 9/14/2006 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Nope, it's one of the reasons I got curious about this. My daughters have had a great time in volleyball and still enjoy it a great deal.

At the same time, it's occured to me that there's a lot of money in youth sports even though the rhetoric is constantly "I do it for the love of the kids".
It also is a place where parents park their suspicions somewhere else. No one ever much asks about the finances.

There's also a surprising level of trust with coaches, etc. Most deserve that trust, but there've been way too many incidents of coaches abusing that trust with their kids.

There are things that are inherently good about participating in junior sports....but doing junior sports is not necessarily a good thing just because it's an organized activity.
self-image is a big one in our sport because success is measured in terms of college scholarship interest. College scholarship interest is often based on having the right body size.

At 9/14/2006 11:09:00 AM, Blogger None said...

I'm not sure how much money corrupts youth sport. At least not in the high school or even college scene. I think there is plenty of external pressure from professional athletics. Further, there seems to be an aggressive, identification that people have with "their" sports teams. I mean the pervasive attitude that "we beat you and are better than you because of our sports". Anyway, this attitude seems to spread throughout sport, even when the net financial gain is zero.

I suppose I worry about the mix of coaches, parents and athletes. I've known coaches that were awful, parents that were horrible and athletes that were lost in the situation. The internet has become a place for anonymous posters to vent their frustration of the political environment of their specific team. Coaches worry small details like the weight of an athlete and set "weight" standards. At the same time they forget how to teach basic stratagy.

The aspect of gay players is difficult as well. Society creates this massive pressure on young people. This is complete with stereotypes. Men can't be gay and play sports. While gay women tend to gravitate toward sport. Or, are they even gay? This is a far too complicated topic for me. But, some serious attention needs to be paid to it.

I'm sure there are far more insidious examples of poor athletics. Thats just my 2 cents.

"College scholarship interest is often based on having the right body size."
While this is mostly true, there are examples of overworking an individual. After all, practice makes perfect. Just practice 24 hours a day.


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