Candidate for NAH President

Posted by on Dec 10, 2018 in NAH

The NAH put out a call in November for applications for vacant leadership positions. NAH received only one application for the NAH President position and zero applications for the Rules Director and Rules Coordinator positions.

The application for NAH President will go to the Regional Reps for a vote on December 17th, 2018. Regional Reps will contact their regional Club Reps for input and feedback to inform their votes. Club Reps should communicate and discuss the NAH President candidate with their club members and communicate their input and feedback to their Regional Reps by December 16th, 2018. We will post the Regional Reps’ decision on December 19th, 2018.

Below you will find Jennifer’s application for the NAH President position. Each candidate was asked to explain what they would like to accomplish as the NAH President.

Candidate: Jennifer Spencer

Photo by Sam Bennett

I started playing bike polo in Davis, California a little over five years ago. A number of my friends started the club and while I hung-out and watched, took photos and helped organize some of the club tournaments, I was scared to play. Finally I agreed to try it, just once, I said. And of course, as happens to most of us, that one try turns into years. Over the last couple of years and because of bike polo, I’ve traveled all over Europe, the US, and Mexico to play polo and make new friends. I’ve had the opportunity to learn many skills through organizing club tournaments, the 2016 NAHBPC in Folsom, running skills clinics for players, building the Bike Polo Calendar, coming up with drills to improve my own game and then sharing them, along with other players’ drills on the Bike Polo Drills page, and serving as the NAH Outreach Coordinator.

Combining my passion for the sport, with the the skills that I’ve gained as a community organizer, I want to help create growth in bike polo and build a more resilient organization by becoming the new NAH President.

The NAH President is going to have a lot to deal with this year. Worlds is slated for 2019 and the format is 3v3 instead of 5v5 which means NAH will need to determine how to format and throw its qualifiers and NAH championship to help teams ramp-up for Worlds. In addition, many folks who’ve worked with NAH over the years are stepping down or stepping into smaller roles so NAH will need to reach out to the polo community for volunteers willing to take on responsibilities at NAH.

While Worlds and the 2019 NAH series is looming on the horizon (requiring a lot of work, time and attention), we still need to be thinking long term and not just focusing on our yearly responsibilities. The President and NAH needs to work towards creating a more resilient and robust organization. An organization that will help develop NAH bike polo and create the kind of play experience players are looking for. Players want better organized and reffed NAH tournaments, better gender representation, more visibility of the sport, and many other things.

In addition, the President needs to create an organization where NAH volunteers can develop valuable skills (such as leadership and organizing) that will contribute to their own lives as well as the bike polo community. As of right now there are few incentives for folks to volunteer with NAH. Many who do end up feeling burnt-out, overwhelmed, overworked and unappreciated. The President needs to find ways to build moral, make volunteering and doing all the tedious and not-so-fun work that needs to get done a valuable and rewarding experience for volunteers and also useful for the NAH bike polo community.

As the President of NAH my main goal, especially this coming year, would be to create an organization that has the infrastructure and ability to start making strides towards all the awesome things we want out of NAH bike polo. This means getting organized: creating a better organizational structure/system that has more clearly articulated roles and responsibilities, creating a system of regular communication between NAH players to improve transparency, getting Regional Reps more involved, articulating the Regional Reps and NAH leadership roles and responsibilities more clearly, etc.

As an organization, where are we going? What’s NAH’s mission? What do we want to accomplish in the next two, five, and 10 years? How will decisions be made and by whom? And most importantly, given all the things we WANT out of NAH and want to see in NAH bike polo, HOW do we get there? What do we need to do to make it happen?

We need a game plan.

All of these things need to be thought-out, planned, researched, and scaled according to our means. We need to consider how we will sustain the growth we want to see, how will we maintain our organization, etc. We won’t be able to achieve all our big wants right away, we need to be realistic about what we can do with the “people-power” willing to work at and with NAH.

We also need patience and a willingness to reflect and revise our plans and strategies as we go; try things out, experiment, reflect, revise, keep going. As the President, I’ll be looking to Regional Reps to take on more responsibilities and to work closely with their regions and me to move forward.

Having a well thought-out and articulated plan and projects will make it easier for folks to know how they can contribute and get involved with NAH, something we desperately need.

You’ll note that I’ve been referring to “NAH bike polo” not “bike polo.” I’m doing this because NAH is not bike polo, NAH is part of the community of bike polo. NAH has had a huge influence on how the game is played at competitive tournaments and in how clubs play pickup. Many bike polo players have high hopes and expectations that NAH will continue to push the sport forward in meaningful ways, and it will, but some players may just want to be part of a fun community of folks playing pickup and may never attend an NAH sanctioned tournament, or any tournament for that matter, and that’s cool too.

I think assuming NAH can and should be the sole organization working on behave of the bike polo community is unrealistic, at least at this time. NAH cannot serve every need/want nor should it. NAH can do a lot, and as it matures and grows, even more. But my hope is that as bike polo grows, more organizations, associations, consortiums, networks, businesses and groups come together to support each other, to do cool stuff for and with the bike polo community and allow for a diverse expression of interests and needs.

We’re a talented, imaginative, and creative bunch and I think we’re just getting started in developing, experimenting and trying new things to grow the sport and the community. I’d love to be part of this growth as your NAH President.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at jennifer@nahardcourt.com.

Yours Truly,
Jennifer Spencer