Contributed by the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers' Committee
Written by Cindy Clivio, MEd, ATC
Worried about your budget? Worried about job security? Want a say in legislation that affects you like concussion laws or AED policies? One of the ways is to develop a relationship with your local legislators including School Board Members.
First understand the adage that “all politics are local” is true. If you are seeking improvements and funding is necessary, having the support of legislators or school board members is often critical.
Ideally you want them to know you and what you do and your areas of expertise before you come knocking on his/her doors asking for an appropriation or a seat at the table. There are options on how to get to know your local legislator, but one way that has proved successful for many schools is to invite your legislator to visit your school. Discuss and plan this with your athletic director and principal first.
Here are some tips to ensure that might help ensure you have a smooth and productive experience:
- Invite your legislator to an event with some visibility and allow them a prominent role. A good example would be the coin toss at a game. It is often best to have several dates in mind.
- Invite local media, and make sure the legislator knows a photographer may be present.
- At least one week prior, make sure to confirm he/she will be attending.
- Plan on walking the legislator through your facilities.
- Ensure your legislator arrives in time to see the pre-event work. You want them to know what you do to prepare your student athletes and that being at the game may be the easiest part of your day.
- Be prepared with a fact sheet and talking points for you school. Some items you may want to include are the number of student athletes, teams, ratio of ATs to student athletes, budget per athlete (sometimes known as cost per pupil). List anything that is unique about your program. Do you teach sports medicine classes? Does your program provide meaningful community service?
- Let your legislator know how your school compares to others in your district or county. If you have the smallest athletic training facility in the district with the greatest number of athletes, make sure he/she is aware of it and articulate what difference a larger facility could mean in terms of providing services.
- Make sure to write a follow up thank you letter and review any items you discussed especially if there is anything the legislator requested from you.