Q&A with Gamecock Club Director Patrick McFarland
May 28, 2009
Inside Spur: What have been some of the bigger challenges for the Gamecock Club this year?
Patrick McFarland: One challenge has been making sure we have all the correct data from our members. Last summer, a letter was mailed that listed the points that each member has accrued so we could confirm these numbers are correct. We also moved to a new computer system (Advantage) to track donor giving. Jeff Crane, Lindsay Sprague and Angie Shumpert have all done a tremendous job to push this process through. This is allowing us to track out membership information much better. We also recognize that Gamecock Club members want their decals and membership cards earlier. We agree with them - we want to get these out early as well. We have added the consecutive years of giving back on the card and have literally checked each membership to ensure that the data is correct.
IS: What things stand out to you as positive achievements for the Gamecock Club?
PM: I believe we have accomplished a number of positive things this year. We finally have our web site (GamecockClub.org) which we are still improving to better serve the needs of our members. The implementation of the YES program has done everything we wanted it to do. We are creating more opportunities for Gamecock fans to enjoy football from the stands at Williams-Brice Stadium. For the first time ever, the Gamecock Club has started reaching out to our former student-athletes to encourage them to come back and get involved. Our Chapter Tour program has been a huge success. We have had seven chapters come to Columbia to tour our current facilities and get a first-hand glimpse of what we are trying to build here. I encourage more chapters to take advantage of this opportunity.
IS: Even though you have years of experience working at South Carolina, this is your first full year as the club's director. What has been different for you?
PM: I have always done a lot of behind the scenes work as an intern, assistant director and associate director. Having to delegate work to a staff has been different for me this year. I have two assistant directors (Daniel Jimenez and Aaron Lucas) who do a fantastic job with their chapters and the membership as a whole. We also have Tracy Murphy (if you have called the Gamecock Club, you've probably spoken with her) who is great with our members over the phone. Matt Strickland, a former manager for the football team, is on staff and does an excellent job helping our members. In addition, our stewardship staff, Jack Wilson and Toni Karl, does a great job.
IS: How would you rate the spring meetings this year? How did you think the new "regional" format did?
PM: We identified the areas of these meetings that work well as well as some that did not. Overall, I think the meetings were successful. We have asked that all of our chapter presidents give us feedback by filling out a post-action report. We will take all of the comments into account and review them. In the fall, we will have a discussion with the Gamecock Club Board of Directors and develop our plan for the 2010 tour. I do think we need to be in more areas and have more meetings. There are some areas that we did not visit this year that I believe we need to get back to. The spring meeting circuit is one of my favorite times of the year and one of the most important. We get to see and speak to our members. We have to be visible and accessible - these meetings are a great way for us to be out.
I also want our members to see a change in our stewardship. I don't think we have ever thanked our current members for their gift. I want every member from the Roost level to the Diamond Spur level to know that they are important and how much they mean to us. I want them to feel like they are a part of a family.
IS: When you look back on the 2008-2009 sports year, what are some moments that stick out to you?
PM: Two really big moments stand out - the response of Gamecock fans and the student body to the basketball team and the opening of Carolina Stadium. The excitement following the Florida basketball game was awesome. It was so gratifying to see our fans truly enjoying themselves and fired up for the Gamecocks. At the open house for the baseball stadium, it was great to see the looks on the faces of our fans. There was excitement in their eyes as everyone felt like we had something to be proud of. Those are the types of moments that are the reason why I work in this field.
IS: Going forward into next year, what do you seem as some of the long-term goals of the Gamecock Club?
PM: We want to improve our customer service. We can and will be the leader in this area. I want our members to be able to look at our website and find the answers to their questions. We want to make it easier for our members to renew and for potential members to join.
This brings us to growing the Gamecock Club - if any of our members attended one of the Carolina Now Tour events or a Spring Meeting, then they have heard us talk about this. Schools like N.C. State and Clemson have almost 20,000 members. There is no reason we cannot have as many members or more. There are plenty of us out there to have strength in numbers. Just because you don't buy tickets does not mean you cannot be a Gamecock Club member. We want our chapters to be involved in communicating with donors and helping us identify new members.