Flying it Forward! A Recap of How the Flock Supports Emerging Athletes
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already…but about this time last year, our small crew came together to brainstorm ideas about how to expand our team. We had multiple goals: 1) Grow the sisterhood, welcoming new women into the fold; 2) Help spread the word about Oiselle (yes, we are a business); and 3) Find new ways to support our emerging elite runners. (While the resources and funding was already in place for our top pro women, we were looking for a way to support runners who were either at or approaching the national A or B Standards.)
2016 US Olympic Trials - Marathon Qualifying Standard
Thanks to you, the initial rounds of The Flock memberships sold quickly and we were pumped to see that this model could work! $25 of each $100 membership was put directly in our Emerging Athlete Fund. (The other $75 became a break even proposition, as the remainder was used to deliver a singlet, spike bag, free shipping on all orders, plus the staffing costs internally to help manage the new group.)
Big picture, we wanted to widen the circle. To create an expanding sister-family built on run love. A year later, it’s amazing and rewarding to see that come true, as we’re meeting a whole new group of rad women runners – who also inspire us to keep doing what we do at The Nest. I love going on the regional Facebook pages and seeing the conversations around training, race goals, injury prevention, and yes, my personal love - clothes! And even better, in person meet ups with new Flock members as we did at our group run this past Saturday in Seattle...or anywhere we might travel in the US.
Beginning this fall, we started using the Emerging Athlete Fund to help pay for the travel, lodging, coaching and gear costs of our Haute Volée up-and-comers.
- Beginning balance of Emerging Athlete Fund (2014): $11,750
- Used during the Fall 2014 Racing Season: $3,182
- Remaining funds to be used no later than June 2015: $8,568
Below are just a few of the women we’ve either used funds for this Fall – or have commitments to support in 2015.
Left to right, top to bottom: Melissa Gacek, Allison Maxson, Jordan Hamric, Heidi Greenwood, Asher Henry, Kara Foster, Andie Cozzarelli, Andrea Duke, Kerri Gallagher.
A few of the races that these gals traveled to:
- Barber to Boise 10K
- Big Sur Half Marathon
- Inland Empire Championships
- Mt. Sac Relays
- Philly Half Marathon
- Portland Track Fest
- Raleigh Race
- SU Cross Country Emerald City Invite
In 2015, the remaining funds will be used for race entries, gear (shoes), travel, and coaching stipends. A key race focus will be funding a team to the Gate River Champs on March 15th.
Running is often seen as a solo sport. But the reality is, it takes a family to make it possible…to support the hours of training, the costs associated with gear and travel, and the emotional needs. Each of our elite runners has an amazing support system, and we’re just happy that we can be a small part of it – helping them stride to the finish and reach for the stars.
In terms of more Flock memberships in the future, we think yes. We’re having internal discussions about timing, but the 2014 experiment showed it can work, and that we can continue to welcome more women and still remain a community. We have not yet decided on timing, but if you’re interested, please look for an announcement from us early in 2015.
In the meantime, thank you to the believers. Whether you’re a Flock member or not, a customer, a friend, or just a positive voice in the community, we are grateful for your goodness, and belief that a small company could do something different to support women athletes of all types and paces. I hope to see you out at the races! I’ll be the one in the Flock singlet.