President’s Letter – 2023 Report

Thank You!

First and foremost I’d love to begin with gratitude. Like many of you, this club is near and dear to my heart, and comprises so many wonderful souls who do the most to show up as the best versions of themselves and create this wonderful little space we call “home”. As a board, it’s our job to make sure the wheels turn smoothly, the programs seem effortless, and that everyones’ wants and needs are heard. But the reality is, all of you attending an event – whether it’s one or every event we host – play a special part in setting the tone and culture we build here at RCSC. We know your time, your money, your intentions are valuable, and I am so very grateful you’ve allowed us space to do the best we can with what we have. As always, here at RCSC, we are community first, soccer second.

 

Key Program Successes This Year:

  • Our Kickabout program has been on a path of intentional revitalization for the last two years. In early 2022 the club was still recovering from COVID impact and attendance had dropped to a few dozen. Last year in 2023, we celebrated an average of 35 attendees for the year. This year, we set a record in July for 73 attendees – the highest ever in recorded club history, and an annual average of 56 attendees. We also shifted to a once-a-week, every week, 52-weeks-of-the-year model. My deepest gratitude to Jess Furmanski and Dekel Zuhri for all their hard work making this possible, and creating intentional space.
  • Our Skills Clinics have also been revamped and revitalized this year, and will be continuing on a monthly cadence going forward. As always this event is free and caters specifically to new players and those interested in building fundamentals and position-specific skills. I am grateful to Dekel Zuhri for also taking on this program in combination with all the other wonderful work he does on behalf of the club. How lucky we are to have a professional coach willing to develop and lead such a program.
  • Our Friendly Tournament has been our most historic program in the history of the club. It’s how RCSC made its start growing in awareness nationally and internationally with other sibling clubs and has forged bonds there that have stood the test of time. While the program has run for nearly 23 years, this year we are incredibly grateful to Charlie Daniels who showed up to lead and make an impact in running the program. Under his leadership the program grew 150% in participation size, created first-ever play-style divisions, and doubled its profitability. All while also coordinating program-specific fundraisers, and navigating sponsorships. All of his hard work made it possible to successfully run a sliding-scale program for those who face financial barriers so that everyone could attend without financial worry and be included in all the wonderful events that were offered over the weekend.
  • Our PRIDE Season was founded by my predecessor Andrew Kada mid-pandemic in 2021, and quickly has become a club-favorite. We are so incredibly grateful that this year Ty Bottorff took on the immense project that is coordinating an 8 week league in the middle of Pride month! Under Ty’s leadership: dozens of performers, volunteers, and events were coordinated with incredible precision, a record 130% increase in participation, 140 tickets sold out in NINETEEN DAYS (which is a club record by far), a waiting list of over 30 potential attendees, first-ever play-style divisions, and a 15% increase in revenue that led to a sliding scale ticket option focused on removing financial barriers to low-income attendees. We cannot stress enough how vital this program is, and how much work Ty did to personally make it all possible.
  • For the first time in club history RCSC hosted our first Kicking Out Transphobia event during the Friendly Tournament weekend. As a club we recognize that what we do matters, and as a club we always want to make sure we are putting best efforts forward to move the needle on gender diversity and inclusion in sports. This year the club partnered with Yunio Martinez (the founder of the program in Philly, and this year’s recipient of the Molly Lenore Inspiring Award) to launch our event. We’re also proud to say that our match drew the largest number of exclusively trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming athletes roster (53)  in the program’s history.
  • This year RCSC launched a brand new fall program: our Spooktacular Halloween! The event consisted of free food and drink, giveaways and trophies, costume contests, participant medals, and multiple exhibition games. As a club we know how hard the holidays and end-of-year can be for members and wanted to create a lighthearted space for people to feel community and inclusion. A huge shout out to the entire board who showed up to help and coordinate, to the volunteers who helped set up and break down, and to 65 players who showed up to have a great time! Those who opted to play in costumes definitely won the show and provided a ton of levity and joy for the event.
  • The club also launched a new outreach program with Ballard Football Club and the BFC Foundation. On July 8th RCSC partnered with the semi-pro team to lead a Diversity and Inclusion Training for BFC as well as youth program coaches and staff from the Seattle area. Partnering with BFC amplified our message allowing us to have an impact on how gender is impacting youth sports in Seattle. Jess Furmanski and Ryan Souto also hosted our Kickabout program at the facility focused on demonstrating inclusive language followed by a scrimmage attended by coaches, staff, and semi pro athletes.
  • My, how our Teams have grown! In early 2022 team participation was greatly reduced due to league options, COVID restrictions, access to funds and resources. RCSC had been reduced down to 5 core teams that worked hard to continue the impact made by their predecessors. We are happy to celebrate that in 2023 the club comprised over 18 different active teams throughout the year made up of hundreds of familiar and new faces engaging with the adult soccer programs here in the Seattle area. In some leagues, RCSC teams comprised over half of the teams that competed in their divisions. We are so very proud of all of our Captains: Pam, Matt, Charlie, Joey, Drew, Dustin, Tayler, Bailey, (and all the amazing sub-captains under the Purple Rain teams umbrella)!

 

Club Operation and Communication:

  • Our Treasurer Adam Vance has done a phenomenal job this year not only maintaining bookkeeping and fiscal compliance responsibilities, but also coordinating with Dekel Zuhri regarding documentation for RCSC business licenseship. We are happy to announce      as of January 1st 2024 Rain City Soccer Club is an officially recognized 501c3!
  • As Communications Manager, Jess Furmanski has done an amazing job networking with potential new members and audience outreach:
    • Jess worked closely with graphic designer Pablo Castillo González (a long time supporter of the club) to refresh our logo to better capture our club’s essence. 
    • The club partnered with Print Your Cause to launch our very own RCSC branded merchandise store! Use code RCSC2024 to get 20% off your purchase.  
    • Our Kickabouts email list has grown to a whopping 385 members! Not only is this the highest ever, it also directly contributes to the growth of the club, the attendance of our beloved program, and the record setting attendance numbers. 
    •  The club’s Newsletter audience this year has grown to 1,081 contacts! Jess sends out a monthly newsletter informing everyone of the club events and how people can get involved.
    • On social media, the club’s Instagram page following grew to 1,428 followers (Facebook to 873). We posted and engaged regularly and member engagement has grown. It is now the #1 method new players gain exposure to the club.
  • Our Community Program Manager Ryan Souto launched a club Discord that quickly grew to 258 active members who routinely discuss popular topics and engage in club updates and information. Ryan also plays a key role in many of our programs behind-the-scenes in new player outreach and spreading the word about the club.
  • Our Club Photographer Lizzie Rutledge captured several thousands photographs from over 20 different club events that have comprised our media campaigns, social media posts, and action shots for individuals to use and keep. Volunteer and program photographers like Robin, Allie, and Mario have also made their work available to the general club as well! 
  • Our Community Engagement Director James Roubal has really hit the ground running this year in revamping our messaging, website content, grant drafts, corporate donor sheets, and impact summary. His hard work this year secured 5 new sponsors and corporate partnerships along with fundraising opportunities for the club including packet building to apply for upcoming fiscal grants in the new year. 
  • Our new(ish) website! While we still have a long way to go, we are happy to announce that this year the club worked hard to revamp our online presence and make more of a direct effort to engage with the club and potential new members by fixing old HTML/CSS and creating messaging and landing pages that better embody the work that we do. A huge thank you to Michael Montoya who helped revitalize our main landing and In The News pages to be easier to navigate. This year alone the website launched 18 new pages to try and better capture our gratitude for those who come before us, and what all we try to accomplish in our efforts.

 

Financial Updates:

  • In 2021 and 2022, the club had relied on personal loans from the board to pay expenses based on the prior balance and cash flow. The club started 2022 with roughly $1,000 bank balance, and ran roughly $10,000 in operating costs for a break-even model. 
  • The club has become fiscally sound in fiscal year 2023. Now each program and event is completely self-funded and self-sufficient. Pricing structures for each program are carefully calculated to account for all incurred costs and upkeep, along with field rental costs, swag, uniforms/kits, offerings, and the ability for sliding scale financial assistance programs. For 2023, each program was built with a 30% or more growth factor and self-funding model: operating costs were roughly $29,000 and a final standing balance of $5,500.
  • For 2024 the club projects an additional 15% reserve growth factor, 10% in modeling efficiency, operating costs likely averaging $23,000, with an expected year-end balance of $10-12.5k under normal circumstances. Additional funds from private donors, corporate sponsors, financial assistance programs, and grants will likely increase overall budgeting by upwards of $40,000 and create a negative offset factor for a 15 year growth trajectory.

 

New Year Recommendations:

  • 2024 is planned to be a sedentary growth year. 2023 was focused on trying new things and large overhauling projects that were strategically implemented with profitability in mind. Much of the previous fiscal year was focused on establishing a solid foundation to build from. This next fiscal year will be in direct contrast to that. While the club will always be focused on growth, the purpose here is long term stability. 
  • With high unemployment, limited job prospects, and a shift in the economy in Seattle the club is focused on payback programs, fundraising/grant writing, and establishing key partnerships in the city. Much of this next year and budget will be focused on creating a solid financial cushion for the club and sliding scale funding models focused on financial barriers to access.
  • As a club we know we are only as diverse as we are intentional, a portion of work next year will be networking within and external to the club to find more board volunteers who wish to be involved in key aspects of business. “Many hands make light work” – while this is certainly true, it is also a privilege to have a seat at the table, and not one I take lightly. This next year will be focused on having as much diversity and representation at the table as possible; because we all don’t know what we don’t know. 

 

Final Words:

I want to thank you all for the trust you place in all of us here on the board. I get to spend everyday with this board navigating amazing conversations with some of the most incredible and impressive individuals who truly deeply care at the core of their being and believe in what we’re doing here. The reality is, it takes a lot of hard work to make something look simple, and simple is rarely easy. So many people – each and every one of you really – have played a crucial part in making this club a place I love and care for deeply. What we do here, it matters. We have the ability to affect our little corner of the world, and to me that’s a responsibility to do so. To leave things better than how we found it. To celebrate those who come before us and all the immense work they had to do to bring us here. I look forward to being able to share a pitch with you all again this next year. As always, my door is always open.

 

All my best,

Salem Lemmon (they/them)

RCSC Club President 2023-24