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Thread: Coaching Career Paths and Retirement

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    Senior Member jjefferies's Avatar
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    Coaching Career Paths and Retirement

    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?
    J Jefferies

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    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    I would say that the history of full time coaches in the United States (outside of a University setting) is so recent that the data on retirement doesn't really exist in meaningful way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjefferies View Post
    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 [small business owner] [...] who builds their own [business], what is a reasonable end game/retirement plan?
    Fixed that for you.

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    Senior Member jjefferies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Evans View Post
    I would say that the history of full time coaches in the United States (outside of a University setting) is so recent that the data on retirement doesn't really exist in meaningful way.
    It's an awkward subject to consider at any time. But we've got coaches reaching what would normally be the age and others starting. Obviously this is a long term concern and difficult for a man or woman who's focus is on the upcoming local tournament, NAC, Summer National or even Olympics to be having to factor into their planning. But if you have an end game plan in mind it makes things easier. As I mentioned the idea of owning the club's building and using the usual club income stream to pay for it rather than rent seems a no-brainer. But this does not appear to be common. As to meaningful statistical data, I'm sure there are at least 100 retired coaches in the US, i.e. the low end of a meaningful statistical sample for something which is obviously not going to be parametric. But who would collect the data and massage it? The USFA? or perhaps the USFCA?
    J Jefferies

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    Senior Member Mac A. Bee's Avatar
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    Georgio Santelli.

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    Senior Member the ancient one's Avatar
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    I haven't yet seen one of these business targeting fencing salles.

    http://doctorsbroker.com/

    http://www.bizbuysell.com/Business-O...embers/618968/

    Someday maybe.
    "a braggart, a rogue, a villaine that fights by the book of arithmatick. Why the dev'l came you betweene us?.."

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    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    Actually, I thought Jason answered the question completely.

    A

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    Senior Member catwood1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjefferies View Post
    It's an awkward subject to consider at any time. But we've got coaches reaching what would normally be the age and others starting. Obviously this is a long term concern and difficult for a man or woman who's focus is on the upcoming local tournament, NAC, Summer National or even Olympics to be having to factor into their planning. But if you have an end game plan in mind it makes things easier. As I mentioned the idea of owning the club's building and using the usual club income stream to pay for it rather than rent seems a no-brainer. But this does not appear to be common. As to meaningful statistical data, I'm sure there are at least 100 retired coaches in the US, i.e. the low end of a meaningful statistical sample for something which is obviously not going to be parametric. But who would collect the data and massage it? The USFA? or perhaps the USFCA?
    I'm sure there are 100 retired coaches, but I would be surprised if there are 100 retired full time coaches, for whom coaching was their sole source of income. Maybe there are, but 100 seems like a big number for that one.

    Retirement security is definitely something to keep in mind, but saying you need to own your own space for that seems odd. Owning your own space means you don't want to expand. My current club can run 9 electric strips in practice, and 6 in competition. I'm not going to commit to staying in a space that size forever. As Jason points out, owning a club is running a business. Business owners will generally tell you there are reasonable retirement plans that don't involve owning the space you're in...
    D'Art likes this.
    "Sir, didn't I parry"
    "You didn't take advantage of his blade enough, so no."

    (I guess i should have romanced it a bit more..."

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    Senior Member jjefferies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the ancient one View Post
    I haven't yet seen one of these business targeting fencing salles.
    http://doctorsbroker.com/
    http://www.bizbuysell.com/Business-O...embers/618968/
    Someday maybe.
    What do you sell when you sell a fencing club? The membership roles, scoring machines etc? Be curious to learn what such professional sellors would see when appraising a fencing club. But my guess is that the market possibilities for fencing clubs is quite a bit less than medical practices or health clubs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Evans View Post
    Actually, I thought Jason answered the question completely.
    A
    The response was pithy. Perhaps you could elaborate?

    Quote Originally Posted by catwood1 View Post
    Retirement security is definitely something to keep in mind, but saying you need to own your own space for that seems odd. Owning your own space means you don't want to expand. My current club can run 9 electric strips in practice, and 6 in competition. I'm not going to commit to staying in a space that size forever. As Jason points out, owning a club is running a business. Business owners will generally tell you there are reasonable retirement plans that don't involve owning the space you're in...
    An argument. Why pay someone else when you could be paying yourself? Interest paid on a loan is tax deductible and leaves you with appreciation and protects you against increased charges which a rental does not. A build out expansion can be considerably cheaper and easier than moving which entails possible loss of membership. And many other counter arguments to any perceived advantages in renting.

    But still it appears few do it. As Allen Evans commented the data isn't available. Well it probably is in existence just not collected or converted into information. My point though is that it is something which needs to be considered and allowed for. And I am curious if anyone has done any thinking/research on the matter.
    J Jefferies

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjefferies View Post
    What do you sell when you sell a fencing club? The membership roles, scoring machines etc? Be curious to learn what such professional sellors would see when appraising a fencing club. But my guess is that the market possibilities for fencing clubs is quite a bit less than medical practices or health clubs.
    It does happen on occasion, even in the hinterlands. When Salem got the job at Air Force he sold Lone Star, his club in Dallas, to the current owner.

    The response was pithy. Perhaps you could elaborate?
    A full time fencing coach is in exactly the same situation as any other small business owner. If you consult on how to get Republicans ready for debates or on IT security or you sell orange trees or you build houses or you teach children to hit each other especially well with flexible steel sticks, you have things you're focused on this week and next week and so on but you should also be thinking about your retirement plans.

    K O'N

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    Senior Member MyrddinsPrecint's Avatar
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    While a traditional IRA is a useful tool, both for tax purposes while working and saving for retirement later, it ought NOT to be anyone's sole answer to retirement savings. Why? Because the yearly contribution limit is currently $5000, and it's tied to inflation. And yes, it's certainly possible to sock away a significant chunk over time if you're very dedicated to putting in the max every year. And you don't touch it before retirement. And the market tends up at least a little in the investments you put it in.

    But a traditional IRA does not replace the benefit of a 401k or pension plan one might be offered if one isn't self employed, all other things being equal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyrddinsPrecint View Post
    But a traditional IRA does not replace the benefit of a 401k or pension plan one might be offered if one isn't self employed, all other things being equal.
    So what? That's why there are SEP-IRAs for the self-employed.

    They have high contribution limits ($50,000 or 25% for 2012) and the contributions don't even need to be made during the tax year you're deducting them for.

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    MdA
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    I recently exchanged emails with a club owner/coach who recently refinanced his home and got a mortgage on his club. He said that the biggest help that USA Fencing or the USFCA could give coach/owners is to develop a marketing program and corporate sponsorships that actually grow fencing in the USA

    If you own your own club, and fencing grows, and you develop your membership and a facility….it should be worth something in the future.

    This sounds like this should be part of the Strategy and Goals for USA Fencing/USFCA. I know there is something in the recently published Strategy and Goals about both growing memberships and developing coaches.

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    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    US Fencing seems to be in the news a lot more, through social media and the efforts of people like Tim. I don't know how much US Fencing has to do with these efforts, and, of course, they could always be doing a bit more. When it comes to US Fencing's promotion driving local club traffic, however, that's a lot more problematic, I might suspect. National exposure of fencing certainly drives local traffic, but not every consumer is going to make a connection between London 2012 and the local club. I think there are a lot of reasons for that (and the marketing guru's can chime in on this, since I'm no expert) but I suspect that what we're talking about here is building a "brand" that local consumers connect with, and that is very difficult."New" media has made this much easier, but even the experts seems a little unsure about how things really play out (though you can pay them a lot of money to give you their best guesses).

    Jason's answer is again relevant here: local businesses can do a lot to drive local traffic, no matter what "business" they are in. The problem is that so often we think of fencing as "different" than any other small business. Jason replaced the words "fencing club" with "small business" and suddenly the problem of retirement seemed a lot less exotic. Small businesses have the same challenges, and mostly, they solve them the same way. The sport may be unique, but the business isn't.

    Once, at Coaches College, a coach was complaining that the USFA didn't do enough to help his business grow. I asked him for some ideas, and he gave me two or three (mostly involving National media advertising). "Okay", I said, "Suppose that US Fencing does that, it works, and next week, 20 people come into your club for lessons and classes, what happens?"

    Well, of course, his answer was that he didn't have enough equipment or coaches to take care of this influx of people, since his club was very small. This tells me that he wasn't planning for growth, or at least, growth at his club. This is not true with every club, but it's true with a lot of clubs*. If he was planning on growth like any small business, he would be thinking about how to drive growth -- locally -- to his business.


    A

    *What's the average size of a fencing club in the US? What are the revenues of these clubs? What is the distribution of clubs, and their size across the US? We don't have the answers, I suspect, to any of those questions, which tells me that we're still not thinking of fencing as a business, but a hobby.

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    Senior Member KidLazy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyrddinsPrecint View Post
    While a traditional IRA is a useful tool, both for tax purposes while working and saving for retirement later, it ought NOT to be anyone's sole answer to retirement savings. Why? Because the yearly contribution limit is currently $5000, and it's tied to inflation. And yes, it's certainly possible to sock away a significant chunk over time if you're very dedicated to putting in the max every year. And you don't touch it before retirement. And the market tends up at least a little in the investments you put it in.

    But a traditional IRA does not replace the benefit of a 401k or pension plan one might be offered if one isn't self employed, all other things being equal.
    Quote Originally Posted by fencerX View Post
    So what? That's why there are SEP-IRAs for the self-employed.

    They have high contribution limits ($50,000 or 25% for 2012) and the contributions don't even need to be made during the tax year you're deducting them for.
    IRA, 401k, pension plan, so on, are tools to trap people and force them NOT able to retire. It is evil.

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    MdA
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    Quote Originally Posted by KidLazy View Post
    IRA, 401k, pension plan, so on, are tools to trap people and force them NOT able to retire. It is evil.
    I suppose that if you get too old to keep taking direct thrusts to the chest from 12 year-olds, you can become a greeter at Walmart.

    But, I heard that some people think that Walmart is evil too.

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    Senior Member MyrddinsPrecint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KidLazy View Post
    IRA, 401k, pension plan, so on, are tools to trap people and force them NOT able to retire. It is evil.
    Uh, what?

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KidLazy View Post
    IRA, 401k, pension plan, so on, are tools to trap people and force them NOT able to retire. It is evil.
    MdA had it wrong, I think. KL has apparently taken too many direct thrusts to the head, not the chest.

    But he shouldn't worry. Social Security will be there for him when he's ready to retire.
    Use the Shift key, people! Keyboard manufacturers everywhere are ineffably saddened when you ignore what they made just for you!

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    MdA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquartata View Post
    But he shouldn't worry. Social Security will be there for him when he's ready to retire.
    ...and "free" healthcare and food stamps. I wonder how retired fencing coaches are getting on in Greece these days?

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Well, the arson fires probably mean they don't need home heating.
    Use the Shift key, people! Keyboard manufacturers everywhere are ineffably saddened when you ignore what they made just for you!

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