So you want a (hobby) club?

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I have been asked many times by many people how exactly the Kansas City YoYo Club came about, how it's been so successful, and how we've maintained that level of success. This is the first in a series of articles on building a stable foundation on which your club of any sort can grow.

Note: I refer to "YoYo Club" many times within this blog, but keep in mind that I wrote these pointers with any type of club in mind.

Part I: Inspiration.

For a few years I had fiddled with the idea of starting a local club. I consistently trashed the idea because of over-thinking it.
"Will people come?"
"Is yoyoing a dead hobby?"
"Are there enough yoyoers in my area with interest to sustain a club?"

I never really knew the answer to these questions until I started and became involved in a club. The inspiration came on September 17th, 2009 for me. After a few years away from the yoyo scene, I heard rumblings that the Duncan 80th Anniversary Tour had been stopping around Kansas City. That afternoon I tore the house apart looking for any yoyos to fill my pockets with, and ran out to see the tour. Getting there and seeing Seth Peterson and Nate Sutter filled me with some sort of energy that I can only describe as incredibly anxious. Anxious to do something for the yoyo world. They treated me like we had known each other forever, immediately getting me back into the loop as far as trick style and yoyos were concerned. Then Seth made mention "You know... we've met a LOT of yoyoers in Kansas City this past week."


All these years have gone by, and we have YOYOERS in this city??? At that moment, I knew it was my mission to create a gathering place for these mythical "yoyo people" that abide in my city.

My inspiration came from a very well known yoyoer, but it shouldn't have had to. I should have sought out the inspiration myself and gone through with it. Where will your inspiration come from? Random conversation with a professional yoyoer? Talking with the organizer for another successful club? Some random blog you have stumbled upon by accident? Seek it out, the sooner the better!

Part II: Location, Location, Location.

The next day I found myself searching online for a place for us to meet. It didn't immediately all fall together. Within a few days though, I struck gold. Reading a local website about fun things to do in the area, I found it - "Kansas City Juggling Festival - 2009".

I know, I know. Juggler's and YoYoers are bound by some sort of cosmic force. Drawn together into conventions, then separated like some sort of opposite polarity magnet while in the same room together. I had to try it anyway. That night, I went to the Juggling festival. The first person I met at the festival was Nick Civitello. I found out that he had actually been aa part of the yoyo community for quite some time, working with Infinite Illusions and helping with the WYYC. He was extremely receptive to having the yoyoers come meet up at the Juggling Club mid-week. Just like that, we had a location, date and time to meet. It only took a week.

My suggestions for finding a location for your club meets? Well, search out a local juggling chapter (I promise they aren't -that- weird). In lieu of that, search out other skill toy or kiting enthusiasts and see if they meet somewhere. Community Colleges are usually very receptive to having clubs meet in their multi-purpose rooms especially if you host free workshops to the public. If you work hard to find a location, it will pay off in the end.

Part III: Building the club.

By now, you've answered the two most important questions
"Am I sure I want to do this?" Yup.
"Do I have a location?" Yup.

Now comes the dedication part. You are not going to have a great turnout every week. You are going to be the only yoyoer there some weeks. People go on vacation, they burn out, they get sick. The one person that needs to be stable at the meets is YOU. Consistency is the key to success. I can't tell you how many times I've been the only person there, only to welcome someone brand new into the fold. This is how you build a good member base.

I was very fortunate to have John little as a go to guy in case I wasn't able to make it. If you have someone you can count on, make sure you keep in contact with them on club meet days. Someone NEEDS to be there. We haven't had a meeting in months where we didn't have more than 5 yoyoers. It is a slow build, but very worth it.

Other keys to building the member base are things like social media. You need a facebook group! You have to tell people in advance if there are changes to the club schedule or special events. Some of our members drive for an hour or more to get to the meets, so I need to let people know if plans change as soon as I get solid information.

Keep the forums up to date with this information as well. Out of towners drop by all the time because they're seen the information posted in the club/meet sections of yoyo forums. It's always a nice boost of energy to get new yoyoers in the mix!

The next article I'll be adding on this topic will include:
Handling problems that arise within the club.
Special Events.

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