Monday, November 8, 2010

CRF President Aaron Webber: Interview of the Week, Part II

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BYU Rugby Forever: Along those lines, since you already mentioned what you need to do with the Cougar Rugby Foundation, kind of 'taking that load off the coaches' backs', what are your duties going to be, or what have you already been doing, to fill that role and get the ball rolling to take care of those responsibilities?

Aaron Webber: I see the role basically in three facets. Number one is and will always be fundraising. It's an unfortunate reality, but it takes money to do what needs to be done. And if the team's going to make an annual event of going to the National Championship game, we're going to have to find some way to pay for that and get themselves there and not have to sleep on the floor and all those sorts of things. You know, back in our day it was minivans driving for a day and a half, and then sleep with members, and blah blah blah. So, we have notched it up in terms of our sophistication, and that's appropriate. The team has notched up in terms of its playing level, too, which means you've got to notch up in terms of the funds required to do that. So number one's fundraising.

Number two would be alumni relations: keeping the alumni informed; having the appropriate forum such as this and others. And that doesn't mean that I do it or the Cougar Rugby Foundation does it. We can do some but we can also be facilitators; have these sort of conversations; just get the message out there; maintain contact ... which also feeds fundraising, obviously, but also helps build that team spirit.

I mean, rugby is a great team sport. You know, I love American football; it's an outstanding sport. It is a team sport, but you don't necessarily play as a team. I mean, it's a collection of teams. You've got offense; you've got defense; you've got special teams. And very rarely do those teams intersect or be on the field at the same time. You've got specialist positions where you play quarterback and you do certain things; and that's what you do, and you get very good at them. In rugby, you have to be more of a generalist: you're offense, you're defense, you're special teams, you're tackling, you're running, you're scoring ...

So, to me, that's the approach I want to take in terms of some of these back-office support mechanisms is this Cougar Rugby Foundation can facilitate that team play on the alumni. We have significant expertise in our alumni base. We have guys that are great marketers, great bloggers, great communicators, great fundraisers, guys with plenty of money that can write checks, people that can bring crowds to games ... you name the skill sets that we need; they're in the alumni base. And so, worst case scenario, all we've got to do is just have that alumni base informed as to how they can help, how they can be involved, 'cause I think most want to be, and then the benefits will flow from that.

So, fundraising, alumni liaison, and then whatever we can in terms of off-field support. You know, negotiating with airlines, hotels, just making the process of running the team more efficient in terms of sponsorships, gear supply, field preparation, gameday dramas, etc., etc.; just again, take the burden off the coaches so that those guys can focus on what they're very, very good at ... which is coaching a great team, recruiting great talent, building a great program.

BYU Rugby Forever: As far as that whole undertaking is concerned, what are some of the roadblocks or potential obstacles you see to making that all happen? As you said, the resources are there ... what obstacles are in the way as you try to facilitate that whole process?

Aaron Webber: I don't think there are obstacles; obstacles are just opportunities, right? I mean, it's just a question of how you approach them. I think the biggest obstacle we have is just some inertia ... you know, there are good people out there that have lost contact. And in their water, they want to help; they just don't know how, and so they haven't done anything. And so just getting them off the dial there, you know, doing something, being involved ... that, I think, is the biggest issue.

But, that's not a big issue, but that's the biggest one we've got, I think. Writing a check, spreading the word, getting bums in seats at games home and away. It doesn't have to be a hard or time-intensive thing, but just if everyone makes that contribution just like the team, you know ... with all due respect to wingers, I mean, they're not involved in the game all the time, but good wingers go looking for work, right? They don't just hang out on the wing and say, "Well, the ball's on that side; I'll just hang out here and do nothing." They go looking for it, they get engaged, they scrounge the ball.

Same sort of thing: we don't want a bunch of alumni that are just wingers waiting for the ball to come to them and then they go to work. Some guys that can put their hand up and say, "I'll go looking for work." And, you know, the game, the institution ... to me, and I'm off track here, but the institution is outstanding. BYU is ... you know, I'm a diehard BYU fan, so ... check that box. The game is outstanding, I'm a diehard rugby fan. Our rugby team is outstanding, I'm a diehard BYU Rugby fan; so you bring those three together, and I think that there is an attraction in all three of those or one of those three, whatever the case may be, for people to want to be involved and add some value and do some stuff.

You know, BYU is a world-class institution, and we have now got the beginnings of a world-class team and a world-class program, and I just want to do what I can to help move that along. And I think others do too; but they just need to know where to 'stand where you lift' type thing ... "Ok, I'm standing, so what am I lifting, and what am I going to do?"

Editor's note: This piece is the second part of a three-part, extended interview originally audio-recorded by BYU Rugby Forever on 3 March, 2010, in Provo, Utah.

Due to the seventeen-and-a-half-minute length of the recording, it has been transcribed and separated into three sections for readability and presentation purposes.

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