Letter from the President: USAFL Board Retreat 2022

Treats from Oz

Dear Presidents and USAFL Community,

The USAFL Board held the 2022 Board retreat in Ontario CA January 8 and 9th. The Board retreat was held mostly in person with a couple of Board members attending remotely and all portfolios joining via Zoom sessions.  I want to thank all Board members and Portfolio representatives for taking the time to attend.  

As challenging as 2021 was, we were able to hold several sub regional tournaments and Nationals with a focus on safety. I’m also pleased to announce that we finished the year with a positive net revenue.  It would not have been possible with your support and the efforts. This is a great outcome for the USAFL and we’re looking forward to growth in 2022.

The retreat was positive and constructive with great ideas and input from all participants. Using feedback from many sources - including the December survey and direct phone calls - the Board set priorities for 2022 and beyond. I want to thank all the Club representatives who took the time to complete the survey and share productive feedback. The major outcomes from the weekend are discussed below. We’ll be continuing to share information on projects and initiatives and to seek input from our community as we prepare for our 2022 season. 

Safety

Safety will remain in the forefront in 2022 and beyond using the Safety Task Force as our biggest resource. The USAFL Safety Committee role will expand to include establishing first aid and concussion best practices and resources. We will also be continuing to build out the role of the Club Safety Officer.

It is critical we remain vigilant and maintain a disciplined approach with regards to COVID safety. While we are preparing for a full regular season, we are also prepared to make decisions in the best and safest interest of all our members. The USC will continue to monitor trends in the country and in the cities or counties where we are planning tournaments and will provide guidance based on up-to-date data. We plan to seek the recommendation of the USC with regards to vaccination, booster, and testing requirements for tournaments and are committed to sharing any requirements in a timely manner. 

We learned a lot throughout 2021 and we will take many of these experiences across to 2022.  

For more information, please email seb.aguiari@usafl.com

Finance

The 2022 Budget was finalized and approved unanimously.  I’m very pleased to report that the AFL has agreed to renew our grant for 2022. The AFL sees the USAFL as a strong partner and recognizes the amazing community that we have. Together, we are committed to growing the sport in the USA in 2022 and beyond...  We’re all very grateful for their unwavering support. 

An important note regarding the budget is that we anticipate a significant increase in our liability insurance. This is due to several locations requiring increased coverage minimums as well as additional requirements, specifically when fields are shared by schools or youth organizations. Club dues will be re-established in 2022 to cover these costs. The Board has approved a new mechanism for establishing club dues based on club size and resource use. Communication regarding this and details will go out in the coming weeks.

The budget also includes a $1,492 grant from the USAFL Foundation. The availability of this grant is a testament to the efforts of the Foundation and an indication of its value in the future. The Board has voted to allocate this grant to the Women’s Association to go towards providing resources to developing women’s teams. The WA will be providing more details about this program soon. 

Lastly, please note that we will continue with the pay to play model instated in 2021. We believe that it provides all players with a choice to attend tournaments and spreads the entry costs throughout the season. The USAFL Administration fee, Tournament fees, and Nationals fee will be in place. The first-year player discount will remain in effect as well. This year, there will also be an Early Season Pass which will offer a significant discount to players who are attending multiple tournaments. We will communicate the details in the coming weeks. We expect fees to be in the same range as 2021.   

For any budget questions, please email treasurer@usafl.com

25th Year Anniversary

2022 will mark the 25th anniversary of the USAFL. This is a great accomplishment and one that has been recognized by the AFL. They do expect to have many representatives attending Nationals and we are looking forward to many activities and recognition of this incredible journey. Paul O’Keeffe and Rich Mann are leading the 25th Anniversary team. They have reached out to the Portfolios and many Alumni to develop a comprehensive plan for activities and to commemorate this important milestone.

For more information or to participate, email Doren.James@usafl.com 

Committees

The USAFL Board will be re-introducing focused committees in 2022. We believe that this mechanism helps to capitalize on experts, energy, and ideas in our community. The committees for 2022 will include Safety (as previously mentioned), constitutional review, recruitment, and club management. Committee chairs will be recruiting members in the coming weeks and will be communicating goals and outcomes once they’ve held their first meeting. Member selection will be done through a combination of direct outreach and open application. 

Communication

We are also implementing a variety of tactics to ensure clear, direct, and accessible communication and to facilitate two-way conversations in the coming year. Part of this initiative includes a redesign of the USAFL website, already underway.

Minutes from all Board meetings are currently being posted to the USAFL website and are available within about a week from any meeting, here. We will also be posting more detailed communications such as this one, on our website, linked via social media.

Our current plan is to hold a combination of regional Presidents calls as well as league-wide Town Halls, for which we will request agenda items in advance to optimize time and efficiency. We are currently working to confirm the best format and cadence for these as well as more specific communication with Safety Officers, Coaches, and other reps.

For more information, email secretary@usafl.com

2022 Schedule 

We are planning for a regular season with 3 Regional Tournaments (West, Central, East) taking place in June and July and a National Tournament on October 15 and 16. Dates and Locations will be announced in the upcoming weeks. 

We recognize that 2021 was a very challenging year for the women in our community, especially, and are committed to rebuilding numbers in 2022 through providing resources and critically examining the schedule with the women’s game in mind. Our focus is on participation and ease of access, and we recognize that change and outside-the-box ideas are necessary to succeed. We are currently working with the Women’s Association to determine the best and preferred format for the 2022 competition. The Women’s Association is already involved in discussions, and we look forward to working with them and team leaders throughout the country to have a successful women’s competition.

All Tournaments, USAFL games and activities will be in accordance with USAFL and Local Safety authority guidelines in effect.  

The Board came away from this past weekend feeling motivated, optimistic, and energized. We have all learned so much over the course of these two years and we were excited to take those lessons and direct them toward actionable and forward-looking outcomes. We can feel the passion in this community, and after two years of uncertainty and challenges, we are excited to tap into it and have a competitive, safe, and fun season in 2022.

Very Sincerely,

Seb Aguiari

President, United States Australian Football League

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