In the life of any organization, there are individuals who stand out as having contributed to the success of the organization that far exceed their job title or responsibilities. Long-time MIFC Registrar Mindy Rowe is one such individual.
Mindy recently stepped down as club registrar to pursue other opportunities after 15 years with the club. We asked Mindy share some thoughts and memories with us:
How long did you work with Mercer Island FC?
I started working September 2006 and continued through June 2021. 15 total years!!
What roles did you hold with the club?
I was initially hired as the club registrar. After a few years, I took on the field scheduling coordination as well.
After all those years, you must have some fond memories. What are a couple?
There are many fond memories! From working with great people on the board, to great volunteer coaches and players. A few things that always make me smile are the first day each year of Micro-Soccer for the six and seven-year-olds. The build up to that first day is daunting as you get the teams formed, communications out, kits sorted, bagged and labeled, balls pumped etc. Then that Saturday morning comes and the excitement in our smallest players and their families as they take the field, many for the first time in their brand-new cleats, jerseys and shorts is so fun to watch and reminds me each year why we do what we do!
What's another fond memory?
A few years back our supplier had a ball shortage. We were starting to panic that we wouldn’t get our soccer balls in time to hand out to all the players. To our excitement, they arrived the night before we needed them, but deflated! Sarah LeClercq, VP of Recreational Soccer, and I divided them up (probably over 200 each) and sat in each of our respective garages with our compressors running all night to get them ready! At one point, my garage door was open and a sea of balls went rolling down the driveway, across the street into the neighbor’s yard; that was fun collecting them all! I think between the two of us, we only broke a couple inflation tips and by morning, all players started their season with their soccer balls – fully inflated!
Can you share with us a couple of the biggest challenges the club faced over the years?
Over the years, we would encounter challenges as a Board, or as a Registrar, many that could be worked through and solved. One of the constant challenges was educating families on the ever-changing youth soccer landscape and where MIFC fit in that landscape – what were the best options for their child and their soccer development.
A challenge that was really difficult for me personally was when we had families that would attempt to sign their player up late, weeks after our registration deadline and we would already have formed teams. We were bound by the rules of the league and couldn’t add them to fully rostered teams. That was always disappointing and tough as I knew how badly they wanted to get out on the field and play. Other times, I would become a sounding board for parents (usually emails) where they were frustrated and angered over their child not getting a spot on a specific team, unhappy with the coach they were assigned to, team practice times, game schedules, snacks served, not served, etc. While that comes with the role of a Registrar, being that we are in a small community, there are times I wonder if they would use the same hurtful words that would roll off their fingertips towards me, if they were to meet and talk with me in person - I am assuming not.
Another challenge that we face every season is field space and field allocation. We’re a relatively small island with limited athletic field space for all our sports clubs and school teams. Over the years, we created and cultivated great relationships with the city and other sport users of the fields. We would meet monthly to work together, be good neighbors and users of the fields. That said, it was always a challenge to find field space needed for all teams to practice and have games and I would often have to get creative.
Overall, families and parents were amazing! Managing a club with at times over 1300 players and coaches was no small feat. The term, “it takes a village” is so true and with the willingness of a MIFC volunteer board that was always ready to jump in and help – we got it done!
What changes have you seen in the soccer landscape over time?
Good or bad (and I see it across multiple sports, including but not limited to soccer) where tryout-based teams – “select” - are starting at younger and younger ages and becoming the focus both from a planning perspective and board energy perspective. In some ways this is great, but in other ways, I feel it pushes kids to have to ‘pick their sport earlier’ as they don’t have time to do it all and those that do try to do it all, wear out physically. When I first started as a registrar for MIFC, the Recreational soccer program was healthy and thriving. There were multiple teams at every age group and a plethora of volunteer coaches (typically parents). Over the years, the focus, whether by club or parents, shifted and Recreational soccer became the backup to playing Select. Less parents wanted to volunteer and have fun coaching a group of kids for a season as they would rather have professionals coach. What I witnessed is that kids don’t get to have fun with a sport and their friends during a season and then go on to play other sports. Select sports bleed into all seasons and if kids want to play multiple sports they are typically doing so at the same time. Our kids are being worn thin in order to keep up with it all.
What is next for you?
For those that know me, I am not one to sit idle! I have been lucky to get to work and stretch myself for the past 18 months consulting with Microsoft in Xbox Marketing and involved with the sports and activities of my kids. Chad and I have two girls in college, (one married!) and two boys still at home in the MI School district. We are abundantly blessed and excited for this next chapter. You will find me in the bleachers cheering on MIFC teams!
How is the club going to survive in the post-Mindy era?
The club will survive and thrive just fine without me. I was one of many hands that were needed to run the club. The MIFC board is strong and with Stephanie Wyss (Registrar) and Lis Larkin (General Manager) at the helm of daily administration, I anticipate continued great things for MIFC!