Freestyle Programs

USSA Club Certification Guidelines

Note: These guidelines are currently under review and slight revisions for the 2014-2015 season. For the most updated information see the main Club Certification Page.

Why Club Certification?

While club development and basic club certification is for every club, podium level club certification is a process designed for the clubs that want to perform a comprehensive organizational assessment in order to verify and demonstrate their understanding of the best principles and implementation of best practices.

What Will Certification Do for Our Club?

USSA club certification (at any level: certified, bronze, silver or gold) will validate your organization in the eyes of the parents, the resort and the community. Your athletes and families will experience focused and efficient athletic programming that will result in attracting more young people and keeping them in your club longer. Your club will develop assessment tools to track and evaluate club progress that will facilitate planning. Experts from your region and USSA employees will provide resources and actively help in this process for certified clubs. The Club Certification Program will enhance your club’s operations and ensure business sustainability.

At any level of certification, your club will be recognized as a progressive and innovative organization with professional athletic programs that are concerned and attentive to the health and welfare of the athletes. By engaging in the Club Certification process your club will dramatically increase the opportunity to benefit in the following areas:

  • Creating vision
  • Inspiring leadership
  • Increasing funding and sustainability
  • Motivating, attracting and retaining quality staff
  • Enhancing the athletic experience
  • Attracting and retaining athletes
  • Realizing improved athletic performance
  • Experiencing better business operations
  • Stimulating advocacy among the parents
  • Reinforcing identity, reputation and credibility

What is the Club Certification Process?

Club certification is a process of self-assessment, peer-evaluation and organizational improvement. This process will be supported with on-going Club Development resources and opportunities. The process of certification is a partnership between the USSA and the individual clubs. It is not an examination but rather an effort by the USSA to assist its clubs through assessing club leadership, operations and athletic programming and performance. Through the process of club assessment, the USSA will determine areas of need and provide additional resources and teaching modules to the clubs individually, regionally and nationally. Any comments, suggestions or recommendations made during the certification process, a peer interview/visitation or by the certification committee are offered constructively with the above in mind.

What are the Levels of Certification and What Do They Mean?

Certified Clubs: this basic level of certification is intended for all clubs to demonstrate a minimum level of organizational infrastructure such that they are eligible for the USSA’s insurance program (if desired and needed) and in alignment with the USSA’s core values and guidelines. This requires a written application and is intended for all clubs including smaller clubs, clubs that simply host a few events with no programming, clubs that are just getting started, clubs needing insurance or clubs that do not have the time or other resources available for the more detailed certification process at this time. Certification is a first step toward podium levels of certification and helps the USSA better assess club needs at all levels. This level of certification is appropriate whether or not a club considers itself a part of the Olympic pipeline, and for clubs just engaging in the certification process.

Bronze Clubs: this level of certification is intended for more established clubs with full programming that have the ability to complete a longer and more involved certification and application process. This level of certification verifies that the club has all the basic elements in place for organizational and athletic success. This application and certification process is more involved and will require the club to designate a club certification coordinator and a board member to participate in the process and required interview While less involved than the application for Silver and Gold clubs, the Bronze level certification process involves a comprehensive organizational assessment and will put clubs on the path of continual improvement. Bronze certification is intended for approximately 70% of podium clubs.

Silver Clubs: Clubs seeking Silver certification must first submit a “Letter of Intent” (LOI) to the Club Development Manager. The Silver certification process may not commence without approval. This level of certification is intended for well-established and highly functioning clubs (both organizationally and athletically) that have the ability to complete an involved certification process. These clubs may serve as a model both organizationally and athletically, have high levels of financial sustainability, and have consistent and long-standing track records of organizational and/or athletic success. This level requires the club to designate a club certification coordinator and a board member to host a required visitation In keeping with the idea of partnership, this process is intended to be both a verification of certification requirements, as well as a way for the USSA to better understand what leads to club success, in order to better support it. Silver certification is intended for approximately 20% of podium clubs.

Gold Clubs: Clubs seeking Gold Certification must first submit a “Letter of Intent” (LOI) to the Club Development Manager. The Gold Certification process may not commence without approval. This level of certification is intended for clubs that are Best in the World. These clubs serve as a model both organizationally and athletically, and are potential resources for both USSA and other member clubs. Further, these clubs will have high levels of financial sustainability and consistent and long-standing track records of organizational and/or athletic success. This level requires the club to designate a club certification coordinator and a board member to host a required visitation In keeping with the idea of partnership, this process is intended to be both a verification of certification requirements, as well as a way for the USSA to better understand what leads to club success, in order to better support it. Gold certification is intended for approximately 10% of podium clubs.


Can Clubs without Certain Levels of Athletic Performance (i.e. National Team Placements) Reach High Levels of Certification?

Yes. While the certification process certainly considers and rewards specific athletic performance and success, it also recognizes organizational performance and success. Further, certification is intended to be an assessment of the organization’s self-stated goals and objectives. Therefore, if the stated goals are to place athletes on the National Teams, and the club has not, that is an unmet organizational goal, but if the stated goal is to be the best developmental program in the country and the club is, then it is reaching its goals. The Bronze, Silver and Gold certification levels will identify clubs that are truly part of the Olympic pipeline at any level – and these clubs will be recognized as podium clubs. The certification process is designed to recognize all the elements that lead to success with organizations, parents, athletes, volunteers, staff, funding and athletic results.

The USSA wants to certify and recognize not only those clubs that have fostered athletes (year after year) to the elite level, but also those clubs that do it right (day after day) regardless of whether they have elite athletes, and perhaps play a different role within the national pipeline.

It should be noted that the bar is set very high for Bronze certification such that it may take some time for a club to reach this level. As a Bronze Club you are on the podium and we all know what kind of commitment and mix of required elements it can take to get there. Therefore, Bronze does not indicate satisfactory performance - it is not a “C” - it is verification that you are a Club deserving medal status. With this said, Gold and Silver certifications will be reserved for those clubs that are going above and beyond the required elements and can demonstrate performance in all areas over time.

The basic level of certification is intended to recognize all clubs that meet the minimum certification requirements and are in alignment with the USSA’s core values and guidelines.

So What?

Certified Clubs are more:

  1. Attractive to parents and athletes
  2. Legitimate in the eyes of funders and donors
  3. Rewarding and professional places to work
  4. Connected to something greater than the local club experience
  5. Tuned in to USSA resources
  6. Focused on success in all areas: organizationally, athletically and in character, culture and mission.


What are the Certification Requirements?

1.     Certified Club:

  • USSA Certified Club application 
  • No club visit
  • Must meet minimum qualifications
  • Eligible for CLIP insurance program through USSA


2.     Bronze Club:

  • Complete online Certification Course and assessments including uploads:
    • Staff and Board Responsible for Certification
    • History and Organizational Structure
    • Verification of Legal Entity
    • Verification of Club Insurance
    • Budget Reports
    • Mission, Vision, Values
    • Primary Job Descriptions
    • Staffing Worksheet
    • Volunteer Report
    • Training Phases Worksheet
    • Athletic Performance Worksheet
    • Facilities Worksheet
  • Interview with Club Development Manager, other USSA staff or Club Expert Consultant requiredClub visit not required (Interview must be with one executive staff and one board member)


3.     Silver and Gold Clubs:

  • Must submit Letter of Intent (e-mail is fine) to Club Development Manager and receive approval to begin the process
  • Complete online Certification Course and assessments including uploads:
    • Staff and Board Responsible for Certification
    • History and Organizational Structure
    • Verification of Legal Entity
    • Verification of Club Insurance
    • Current Bylaws
    • Current SWOT or equivalent
    • Board Matrix
    • Strategic Objectives/Strategic Plan
    • Annual Budget
    • Primary Budget Reports
    • Annual Report
    • Primary Development and Fundraising Materials
    • Mission, Vision, Values
    • Code of Conduct and Due Process
    • Parent Education and Involvement
    • Athlete Education and Career Information
    • Awards and Recognition
    • Primary Job Descriptions
    • Professional Development Program
    • Staffing Worksheet
    • Staff Evaluation Example
    • Volunteer Report
    • Athletic Performance Worksheet
    • Training Phases Worksheet
    • Facilities Worksheet
  • Coordinate required Club visit

The certification process and materials provide a summary for a self and peer-assessed inventory and evaluation of these important Club activities:

  1. Organizational: Business Entity
  2. Organizational: Leadership and Governance
  3. Organizational: Finance and Funding
  4. Organizational: Fostering Culture
  5. Organizational: Public Relations, Communications and Marketing
  6. Organizational: Human Resources
  7. Program: Athlete and Child Safety
  8. Program: USSA Club Programming
  9. Program: Logistics
  10. Assessing Outcomes and Measuring Results

All certification applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis and are subject to published deadlines to initiate the process. Only complete applications will be considered for final review.


Involvement and Engagement in Certification

It is important to involve key constituents at the board, staff, athlete, parent and community levels in this process. Not only will this help to divide and conquer with regards to the tasks of the process itself, but this will also foster more engagement of all club constituents. The club’s lead staff and an officially designated board member accountable to the certification process are required to participate in the interviews and visitations and the certification process will require the club to take stock of all constituents involved in the organization, which makes it a good time to check in with them directly!

This will also allow the club to make the most out of this process. The entire club community should be aware of the club’s certification candidacy. Further, the club can benefit from some exciting public relations, marketing and club engagement opportunities related to this process.

Involvement is the key to realizing the true benefits of the certification process, as opposed to it being a more invisible administrative process.


What is the purpose of the Interview or Club Visit?

Bronze, Silver and Gold applications will be complete in advance of the club visit or interview (for Bronze). The purpose of the club visit or interview is to:

  • Assess the accuracy of the Certification Application and materials
  • Provide an internal and external peer review
  • Engage club leaders (staff and board) in an organizational assessment
  • Identify and discuss club strengths and weaknesses / opportunities and threats
  • Determine what additional resources the club needs to continue Club Development and improve performance
  • Help determine appropriate level of certification

To represent the partnership between the club and the USSA the Club Certification Visiting Team will consist of (5) individuals:

(1) Visiting Team Chair: a Club Expert Consultant as local to the region as possible, or may also be a USSA employee.

(1) USSA employee (Club Development Manger, Regional Manager, Sport Education Director, or other).

                 Of the above visiting team members, one will focus on organizational performance

                 and one will focus on programming and athletic performance.

(1) Visitation Host: Must be a current or honorary club board member.

(1) Club Community Member (Delegated by the club/unbiased/someone with a broad perspective and the best interest of club in the forefront)

(1) Club Executive Staff Leader (Executive Director, Head Coach, etc.)


What Happens after the Club Interview or Visit?

The Club Certification Visiting Team or Club Development Manger in the case of Bronze level interviews will draft a Club Assessment Report, which will include a recommendation for assigning the club Bronze, Silver or Gold status.

The information provided in the assessment reports, and the associated recommendation for certification levels, will be reviewed by a committee of USSA staff.  This committee, and the USSA Club Development Manager, will be responsible for approving all USSA club certifications and issuing final USSA Club Certification levels.

All elements that will be reviewed for certification are shown below.


Certification Criteria for Review

Certification and recommendation for Certified, Bronze, Silver and Gold levels of certification will be based on:

Certified Club

  • Quality of complete application
  • Meet all required elements


Bronze Club

  • Quality of application
  • Data in uploaded materials
  • Completion and verification of all required elements in the on-line certification course
  • Interview report and assessment


Silver and Gold Clubs

  • Quality of application
  • Data in uploaded materials
  • Completion and verification of all required elements in the on-line certification course
  • Visiting team report and assessment
  • Assessment of athletic performance


Once Certification Courses have been completed and all related materials have been received, interviews with Bronze candidates will be arranged within 30 days. Club visits with Silver and Gold candidates will be arranged as soon as possible but may take up to 6-months to complete.

Questions, comments and certification materials should be directed to: Brian Krill, USSA Club Development Manager, Please also contact the Club Development Manager for a list of the approximately 140 elements/questions associated with podium club (Bronze, Silver or Gold) certification.


Certification Timeline

Basic certification applications may be submitted at any time and will be processed within 30 days once complete.

Clubs seeking to engage in the podium level certification process must register with the Club Development Manager by Wednesday, November 27, 2013 to be considered for certification during the 2013/2014 season. Clubs seeking Bronze certification must simply inform the Club Development Manager of their intention to pursue certification and activate the on-line certification course. Clubs seeking Silver and Gold certification must submit a Letter of Intent via e-mail, and must receive approval to engage in the Silver and Gold on-line certification process.

All clubs officially engaged in the certification process will be named “Candidates for USSA Club Certification” at the beginning of the 2013/2014 season.

Bronze certifications will be issued on a rolling basis within 30 days of the club completing the certification process and the required interview. Please note that this may take several months or several seasons to complete.

Silver and Gold Certifications will be issued and announced at the Club Excellence Conference in May. All podium clubs (Bronze, Silver or Gold Certified) will receive recognition, marketing materials, and other resources at the Club Excellence Conference in May for use in off-season to generate support, recruiting and other benefits for the upcoming season.

All certifications require annual filings and will be fully reviewed every 4 years (quadrennially).  


Clubs Seeking Higher Certification Levels

Certified clubs seeking higher levels of certification need not wait for the required 4-year review. Clubs may submit a written request to the Club Development Manager for higher levels of certification with documents detailing updated organizational or athletic results to be considered. The Club Development Manager and the USSA will review and determine the Club’s request based on updated results.


Clubs with Multiple Sports

Many USSA clubs offer programming in more than one sport. In this case, primary certification will be given to the club as a whole (Bronze, Silver or Gold). In addition to the club’s overall certification level each sport will receive a certification level (Bronze, Silver or Gold). For instance:

A Gold Certified club may have:

  • Gold certified Alpine
  • Silver certified Freestyle and Nordic
  • Bronze certified Snowboarding

A club may have sport programs that are at a lower level, but not a higher level than the primary club certification. However, USSA clubs seeking Bronze, Silver or Gold certification will need to demonstrate that all their sport programs meet Bronze certification requirements.

Consideration will be given to clubs that have recently added a new sport to their programming. If new or newly established programs are not yet up to Bonze certification levels, a review of these programs will be a priority in the first official four year review.

As far as the USSA is concerned it is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage to have multiple sport programming when considering club certification. However, while accommodations will be made for new programming, all programs run by a podium certified USSA club will be required to meet no less than Bronze certification standards within the time frame of the first official four year review. 





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