For Parents Booster club/gym drama advice needed

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gymmiemom

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Feb 28, 2013
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Hey all! It's been a long time since I've been on here! So the gym my DD attends was a start up gym about 4 years ago in our little town. We have been with it since the day it opened. It's the only gym in town and we were very excited when the owner opened it up. My DD was among the original group of girls who were invited to team and the coach/owner encouraged us to start a booster club to help offset the expense of competitive gymnastics.

Fast forward 4 years. Me and and 3 other moms have brought this booster club from a $400 fund to one with tens of thousands of dollars that covers every aspect of competitive gymnastics. The gym has grown and so has the booster club. We host a meet with the help of the gym once a year, and we have hosted state the last 2 years. Big money makers right there. In the past the gym got the entrance fees and we got admission from the public and any other money made at concessions, t-shirt/leo stand, etc. Booster club parents are the ones who run the meets. We help move equipment across town to our meet venue, help with scores, basically everything that goes into running a meet. We are talking 12-14 hour days because our club is so small.

This year the gym has decided to keep the general admission at our annual meet and to not host state (which is fine, we want to encourage other gyms within our state to do it too!). This has people in a complete uproar. She has also decided that our annual meet (which is by far and large the biggest and best meet in the state) is going to be held "in gym" this year. Huh? Our gym is small. There is no where for parents to even sit! And we all know how frustrating it is to attend meets with no seating, or so squished it's miserable and you can't see anything. It is infuriating, since our annual meet has such a stellar reputation! There is no where to have concessions, no where to set up our t-shirt/leo press, candy/flower grams, etc. We do not even have a full size floor or vault runway.

Also in the past someone within the booster club has registered the girls for meets. This year the owner/coach has decided she is going to to register the girls and just charge a flat fee for each meet regardless of the amount it costs to enter them. Any extra money will cover her traveling expenses and then if there is any profit left over it will go in a "slush fund." This has also caused some huge concern, as we are used to cutting a check to the gym hosting and then cutting a separate check to our coach in advance for travel expenses/session fees. She is the ONLY coach in the gym so it is not like she is paying other coaches to travel as well.

This is a very small gym 18 girls on team, and we live in WY so the travel is extensive. Only in the last year have other gyms starting hosting meets. But even an in state meet can mean 5 hours of travel each way for us. We usually have to travel to neighboring states to compete. That's just how it is where we live.

So really we are just looking for comparison on how other gym/booster club relationships work. We are the only booster club in the state really, so we don't have anything to draw on.

Thoughts? Advice? I would really like to resolve this. About 2/3 of booster club members are threatening to walk and just fold up shop. Thank you in advance!
 

MILgymFAM

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Feb 6, 2014
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I have been at gyms without boosters and with, and I much prefer not to have one- but that's just me. I can understand why people are upset about the home meet. It sounds like the coach is making booster life that much harder with less reward. Not to mention it sounds like it will create a less than stellar meet environment. As for the meet fees, has the coach simply averaged costs to simplify things? If so, it sounds like maybe people just don't want to relinquish control. I don't really get the whole slush fund thing though. Is there guidelines what that can be used for? Since it's parents money, I would want to know it wasn't a slush find for the coaches personal use.
 

gymmiemom

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Feb 28, 2013
240
I have been at gyms without boosters and with, and I much prefer not to have one- but that's just me. I can understand why people are upset about the home meet. It sounds like the coach is making booster life that much harder with less reward. Not to mention it sounds like it will create a less than stellar meet environment. As for the meet fees, has the coach simply averaged costs to simplify things? If so, it sounds like maybe people just don't want to relinquish control. I don't really get the whole slush fund thing though. Is there guidelines what that can be used for? Since it's parents money, I would want to know it wasn't a slush find for the coaches personal use.

That is the concern. There have been a few times in the past where fundraisers through the gym (not the booster club) which were slotted for new equipment never saw any. Not so much as a panel mat. But I do agree that it is somewhat of a control issue as well. It's hard to let go. So that is really where the large concern comes from. We don't want our money being used for personal profit. But at the same time our hands are tied. We don't really have a choice but to comply.
 

gymbeam

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Mar 18, 2014
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i dont have any advice, but just wanted to mention that it would be real easy to figure out what gym you are by the info you've provided. be careful to not say anything that might damage your or their reputation. this is just a friendly heads-up for you!
 

gymmiemom

Member
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Feb 28, 2013
240
i dont have any advice, but just wanted to mention that it would be real easy to figure out what gym you are by the info you've provided. be careful to not say anything that might damage your or their reputation. this is just a friendly heads-up for you!

I know. Thank you though!
 

gasrgoose

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Former Gymnast
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Dec 15, 2010
518
Sounds like the gym is in financial trouble to me. It could just be the gym needs to raise rates or the problem could be bigger. Meet with the coach. If you don't like the answers close the booster club and then let the coach make the next move. No booster club means no meets, revenue etc.

I agree with gymbeam, with what you've posted you are not anonymous. As long as your ok that no big deal. With only 18 gymnasts and 12 threatening to walk it sounds like the majority would have the power to make things right.

A great example of why there should not be booster clubs.
 
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MILgymFAM

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No booster club means no meets, revenue etc.

Why? My YDDs gym has no booster but still hosts a bigger meet each year. They host states about half the time and have even hosted regionals in the past. They still have the meets and make the revenue without a board.
 

NoDramaMama

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Oct 8, 2014
70
So CA
We have a very successful booster club that is well run and a huge asset to team parents. We host three meets/year. At these meets, the gym gets the entrance fees, admission fees and any fees from vendors. The booster club gets the food booth and merchandise monies. The booster parents are required to work a few sessions at each meet and either set up or tear down. The booster club fees pay for athlete entrance fees, coaches fees (session fees/travel expenses/meals), holiday party, summer party, banquet (includes gift and yearbook). The team parents pay a monthly tuition (to the gym) and a monthly booster fee. The coach needs to submit an expense report and gets reimbursed. Nothing is pre paid. In addition to the booster fee, team parents are required to pay for leotards (every other year), team sweat outfit and bag. And, that's it. If your athlete competes one season or two seasons, you don't pay any more. If your athlete makes it to states or not, you pay the same. If you are a high level optional and need to travel to regionals, etc. your travel is paid at 75% from the booster fee. You, as a team parent, are not required to pay any additional fees. It works out well and people are happy.

If your booster club is a 503c, then it cannot make a profit. Whatever money is in the account at the beginning of the year needs to be there at the end - no more. Also, if those 12 people bail, no monies will be returned to them. The IRS has guidelines as to how these non profits need to be run.

Hopefully this helps.
 

Gymmommy71

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May 15, 2012
890
To me the biggest concern in the OPs message would be the gym taking this well known meet that used to be held offsite at a nice large facility and moving it in house where there is no room. If that destroys the reputation of a once respected meet that is a big money maker for the gym, that would not be good for anyone. Everything else sounds pretty typical though.

I have been at gyms that have boosters and those that don't, and it seems to me that the ones that have booster organizations are signiciantly more costly to attend.
 

gasrgoose

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Dec 15, 2010
518
Why? My YDDs gym has no booster but still hosts a bigger meet each year. They host states about half the time and have even hosted regionals in the past. They still have the meets and make the revenue without a board.

In this situation!!! The OP describes the booster club as doing all the work related to the meet
 

gymmomtoo

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Sep 27, 2011
3,317
Region 4
Sounds like the board of the booster club needs to meet with the owner to talk about this issue. Does she not realize the meet will not be successful in a less than adequate location? And that parents are not going to just volunteer time if they get nothing out of it! I do wonder if the gym is in trouble financially too with those changes she wants to make. Our booster club hosted 1-2 meets each year in combination with the gym along with another that we hosted completely on our own. The joint meets we split profits by a ratio the board agreed to in advance with the owners/head coaches.
 
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MILgymFAM

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In this situation!!! The OP describes the booster club as doing all the work related to the meet

I get what you're saying. At YDDs gym the parents still volunteer and do almost all of the work. There is actually even cross volunteering with other gym's parents (they pitched in at ours and we pitched in at theirs). I don't see the big deal. At our home meet volunteers from our gym were compensated from money made at concessions (to your kids gym account) and parents from other gyms were given free admissions and snacks. When we helped at the other gym we were given free admission and parking. We would have helped even without that. It's all about the spirit of it IMO. Seems people are getting away from the joy of their kid's sport when it becomes what's in it for me.
 

NoDramaMama

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Oct 8, 2014
70
So CA
At our gym, even with just the merchandise and food money, the parents that volunteer split the profit. It normally equates to 1 month of booster fees / meet that we host. So, for working the sessions you get a free month of booster fees. It also means that a level 2 at our gym pays the same meet fees/travel fees per year than a level 9 or 10 because everyone pays the same amount in booster fees.

Our gym is actually not more expensive than others in our area when you factor in the extra cost of meet fees/coaches fees and travel fees associated with those clubs that don't have a booster. Not to mention banquets, holiday party's, beach party's, gifts, coaches gifts, etc. etc.

Booster Club can be a huge asset if it is run well and those that are running it know how to do so and have the best interest of the athletes in mind.

To the OP, it sounds like the club is trying to profit from the success of the boosters. Perhaps there is a good reason. Maybe the owner/HC wants to invest in new equipment, etc. The benefit of keeping the meet in house is that you don't have to pay space rental fees and equipment rental fees (which can be substantial). So, in the owner's mind, they may rather have a smaller in-house meet but make more money. We host one meet in house (small gym) and two offsite. The offsite meets have a substantially higher cost. I, as a board member, would want to know their reasons for bringing the meet in-house. Sounds like a great opportunity for a open, honest conversation with the owner.
 

ZJsMom

Active Member
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
May 11, 2007
998
Pacific NW
I think the only thing you can do is sit down with the gym owner to try to negotiate regarding the meet.

I feel like we're in a similar situation at our gym. The booster club used to make substantial money from our home meet, but now it all goes to the gym and the only thing the booster club has related to the meet is raffle. We're currently in the position of trying to figure out additional ways to raise money.
 

ZJsMom

Active Member
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
May 11, 2007
998
Pacific NW
At our gym, even with just the merchandise and food money, the parents that volunteer split the profit. It normally equates to 1 month of booster fees / meet that we host. So, for working the sessions you get a free month of booster fees. It also means that a level 2 at our gym pays the same meet fees/travel fees per year than a level 9 or 10 because everyone pays the same amount in booster fees.

Our gym is actually not more expensive than others in our area when you factor in the extra cost of meet fees/coaches fees and travel fees associated with those clubs that don't have a booster. Not to mention banquets, holiday party's, beach party's, gifts, coaches gifts, etc. etc.

Booster Club can be a huge asset if it is run well and those that are running it know how to do so and have the best interest of the athletes in mind.

To the OP, it sounds like the club is trying to profit from the success of the boosters. Perhaps there is a good reason. Maybe the owner/HC wants to invest in new equipment, etc. The benefit of keeping the meet in house is that you don't have to pay space rental fees and equipment rental fees (which can be substantial). So, in the owner's mind, they may rather have a smaller in-house meet but make more money. We host one meet in house (small gym) and two offsite. The offsite meets have a substantially higher cost. I, as a board member, would want to know their reasons for bringing the meet in-house. Sounds like a great opportunity for a open, honest conversation with the owner.

I certainly don't want to give you legal/tax advice on a message board, but if your club is a 501(c)(3), you should be careful here. Things like this have run afoul of the IRS's public benefit requirement for non-profits.
 

sce

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Mar 11, 2014
6,143
At our gym, even with just the merchandise and food money, the parents that volunteer split the profit. It normally equates to 1 month of booster fees / meet that we host. So, for working the sessions you get a free month of booster fees.
This is not legal. If you are a non-profit, the benefits of a booster club are supposed to be equal for all members, and can not be tied to specific hours or people. If you are not a non-profit and have kids who wish to do NCAA this could cause issues as well.

OP - it really sounds like a meeting with the owner is in order. The booster club should be a partner with the gym and it sounds like that has been changed. One thing that would be good is to have the booster club purpose clearly defined and as well clearly define who is in charge of what (ie gym or booster club.)
 

NoDramaMama

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Oct 8, 2014
70
So CA
This is not legal. If you are a non-profit, the benefits of a booster club are supposed to be equal for all members, and can not be tied to specific hours or people. If you are not a non-profit and have kids who wish to do NCAA this could cause issues as well.

It is absolutely legal. The benefits are equal for all members. I'm not sure where I wrote that it wasn't. Parents are required to work a certain amount of sessions and, in turn, the profits of the merchandise and food booth are split amongst the members. We've had athletes go on to NCAA without any issue. We also use an accountant specific for non profits, so it is all legal.
 
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