I've recently had conversations with several full time coaches about how they see their career paths. One was in his mid-thirties and the others were in their mid forties. All had worked with or for other clubs and with various but similar experiences were looking to have their own clubs. All had very similar short term views of the struggle to gain enough students to start their own clubs. The search for rental space to be followed by hopefully buying a space. The various legal and management issues necessary to own and operate your own club. The economic model of a pyramid with entry level students and childrens programs forming the base and a smaller cadre of elite competitive fencers at the top was common. Their mid range goals were mostly dealing with finding athletic talent and how to train that talent.
But the question I posed to them and one that I'm posing here is what is the end game? If one is a successful coach, and I'm not speaking about the very few who are in a University setting and are covered by University retirement systems, but the coach/entrepreneur who builds their own club, what is a reasonable end game/retirement plan? Admittedly it is possible to continue coaching till quite late in life. But for a hands on person to be taking thrusts in their seventies or later, even with full coaching armor is difficult. The first thought to mind is to own your own physical building. Club ownership is less valuable unless you are able to build it into a large multi-person business. Small to medium size clubs seem to exist only as long as the primary coach is there to give the club substance. So purchase of a physical structure and using the club's income to pay it off seems the most likely approach to long term retirement security.
But is that a practical solution? Despite my activities as Division Chair and working with the Bay Cup and visiting at one time or another most of the clubs in the Bay Cup's three Divisions, it is quite possible that I'm not privy to the information. But of the 40+ clubs in the three Divisions of the Bay Cup, one, HFC, is a foundation which owns its own building and two are Universities. And of the others I'm not aware of any that are owned by the coach/club owner. So is the goal of owning your own club building a practical solution for a coach/club owner? Are there others that have worked? Traditional IRA, etc?