Student Blogger: Sam Garra – World Conference Day 4

5:30 a.m.  the alarm sounds – another great day of World Conference begins.

The Niagara University chapter gathers together at 6:30 a.m. and off to our education we go. I, along with the chapter, choose to go to Mr. Stephen Barth’s session, who spoke to us about legal compliance in a private club. Things that we may not have to worry about right away as students, but a great topic to be familiar with and understand as we transition into the management field. Mr. Barth had another session that morning and this time it was on leadership and how to enhance one’s presentation effectiveness. A perfect opportunity for me to learn about and improve upon a weakness. Public speaking has never been a strong point for me – I have no trouble talking in conversations, but in the limelight I get too nervous and it becomes a disaster.

An hour and a half later I found myself standing and clapping in awe – this was the best presentation I have had so far at a World Conference. The energy that he gave off, the audience participation and the way he made us work together as a team was nothing short of amazing. He highlighted how to utilize support media in a presentation. Use music and videos to aid and guide your presentation. Defining your delivery method, something I struggle with, was something he made it look so effortless.

He stressed that how you look visually and how you sound vocally are vital to a good presentation. Eye contact is very important, make sure to meet everyone eyes in the room. Use the podium or the platform to your advantage, have the correct posture. Posture can affect your tone and your delivery. Mr. Barth addressed and gave little pointers on how to change all the little things that happen in a presentation that you don’t realize you do. Little tips and tricks I certainly will be using as I move forward in my professional field.

After this session it was time to really focus on me and talk to potential employers. I spoke with one club about an opportunity and another club simply to catch up on the past two years. The greatest thing about World Conference is being able to grow your network. When I look back at how far I have come from my first World Conference in San Diego to where I am now, I truly am amazed at what CMAA can do for an individual. Each day at Conference is a new adventure and a new opportunity to learn about yourself and about this industry.

We, as students, are incredibly lucky to work in an environment where everyone is looking to help you, and help you grow. As a senior, this is my last World Conference as a student and as a member of the Niagara University Student Chapter. I could not be more excited about the opportunities and challenges that await me in the future. The day concluded with a chapter meeting and a review of what sessions we liked and also which sessions we didn’t enjoy so much. Then we were off to enjoy our night in San Antonio.

Sam Garra

Sam Garra

Sam Garra is a senior at Niagara University and is the Vice President of the Niagara University Student Chapter. San Antonio is Sam’s third World Conference.


Student Blogger: Kaitlyn Ellis – World Conference Day 3

kaitlyn headshot

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, and no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Philip Stanhope

This quote holds a wealth of meaning, today in particular. With the world swirling and buzzing around at a tremendously fast pace it is hard to know exactly when or where to jump in.

With the 88th annual CMAA World Conference now in full effect as we arrive in our third full day, it is easy to feel the magic that is conference. Today was an eventful one indeed. The morning started long before sunrise (thanks, daylight savings) with the annual “Run with the Presidents.” This 5K race took place a few blocks away from the conference center around 6:30 a.m. And bless the souls who made it to THAT! The rain held off and the sleepy smiles of the club professionals were abundant. What a blast! There was music, snacks, glow sticks, and good friends. The event was a success. I should add that I walked the entirety of the course and applauded those twice my age who ran it in half the time.

As the sun began to rise over the city of San Antonio, the rest of the world was awaking to prepare for the day. Sessions began early today with the general session featuring Bill Courtney. Unfortunately I was unable to attend this session as I was working with The Club Foundation to promote the “Fill the Boot” scholarship fundraising efforts.

The day was filled with a plethora of manager sessions, student sessions, interviews and luncheons. Opportunities were endless. The beauty of conference is that managers and students have the luxury to design their experience to cater their individual needs. CMAA provides club professionals with these chances day in and day out, year after year. I just have to say, how lucky are we?!

This organization never ceases to amaze me with the support it provides to its members. Is there anything we cannot do? We are empowered to be the best leaders and club managers that we can be, and CMAA gives us those tools.

One session from today stands out to me in particular. Around 4:30 p.m. when the caffeine was wearing off and everyone could think of nothing but their dinner plans and evening festivities (come on, we all felt it), there was one event that still held the focus. This was the “Forecasting of the Club of the Future” session moderated by Dick Kopplin. I chose to write about this topic today because it was the session I had been worrying about the most for weeks. My student chapter had submitted our idea and held on to the hopes that we would be selected. I am so thankful and honored to share that we did it! The excitement was quickly replaced with dread when I realized that meant that our student group was expected to present our idea to a room full of managers.

The down time of today was spent preparing: reviewing notes, outlining the speech and rehearsing in the mirror. The nerves could not be shaken. The clock ticked closer to 4:45 and I knew it would soon be time to face the music. Mr. Kopplin called our group onto the stage. My mouth was cotton. My palms were sweating. I felt horribly under prepared. I took the microphone and closed my eyes. Three…two…one…GO.

In my head I heard the words: Rise & Shine. Rise to the occasion. Shine through until the end. Fear is the enemy. And before I knew it, our event was over.

I took some time to reflect on this. Fear is not a new concept. It is omnipresent, and it is real. Do Master Club Managers feel fear? I have no doubt that they do. Everyone’s fears come in unique shapes and sizes. For students it may be choosing an internship, for presenters it may be not forgetting their speech. But what do we all have in common? Each and every attendee at conference this year is making the conscious choice to conquer those fears by facing them head on. How are we doing this? Through education. Our knowledge is our power. When we have our tool belt fully stocked, there is no challenge that we cannot defeat.

We spend a week out of the year travelling to a different city not to listen to former athletes speak, or bubble in cards for credits, but to face the anxieties that challenge us in our daily professional lives. This is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves.

I faced my fears today, and won. This is the message I want to convey today. Question your purpose. Identify your troubles. Give yourself credit. Keep striving for acquisition of knowledge, and above all Rise and Shine.

P.S. If you were not at the Texas State Fair today, you missed out. There were free caricatures and corn dogs.

Kaitlin E. Ellis is a Senior majoring Hospitality Management and Gerontology at Kansas State University, minoring in French, Leadership, & Business Administration. She has been heavily involved with the K-State CMAA chapter for the past two years, currently serving as the chapter president. She attended the 2014 World Conference in Orlando, as well as the 2014 National Student Education Conference in New York. Kaitlin interned for two years at Indian Hills Country Club in Kansas City and spent her summer at the Cherokee Town & Country Club in Atlanta. Currently, she works at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan, Kansas while in school. She is currently the 2015 Conference Internship Experience award winner and is working behind the scenes throughout the conference with The Club Foundation. 

Student Blogger: Kaitlin Smith – World Conference Day 2

As part of The Club Foundation’s support of CMAA’s student members, this week, we’re sharing student perspectives on the 88th World Conference on Club Management and Club Business Expo.

Monday was a great day at Conference! Each event was interesting and kept me listening. Each session brought something new to the table, from elevator speeches to meeting new mentors. Our first session was the Student Achievement Breakfast, where we met with our fellow colleagues and got to hear who won various awards from the previous academic year. During the breakfast, there was a tribute made to Joe Perdue, CCM, CHE, that touched each and every person in the room. Reflecting on all of the educational opportunities Mr. Perdue has created for students like myself was so moving.

Following the achievement breakfast, we had a student education session based around deconstructing and reconstructing our own personal pitches. This was a really great session in particular because working on elevator speeches is typically a dreadful task. Many students are nervous about presenting them in front of others even though it’s an extremely beneficial thing to do. On top of critiquing our pitches, we also talked about future goals that will lead us to success. It was a great topic to end on since it focuses us in on the next step in reaching our professional goals. This made me realize my short-term goal is to meet a new mentor within CMAA, someone who I can reach out to during my internship this summer to ask questions and help push me to the best I can be.

The next session I attended was the Mentor Luncheon. This is always one of my favorite things to attend during Conference. The roundtable discussion format is awesome because it’s an easier way to talk to managers and pick their brains. It also establishes connections between the managers and students like myself. This year I was able to meet Steve Richardson, GM of Paradise Valley Country Club and past national board member. He knows everyone within

CMAA and was such a valuable person to meet. Mr. Richardson and I established a great connection, where I found out that he knows the general manager I will be working for this upcoming summer. He gave me excellent insight as to how I would get the most out of my experience at that club.

Lastly, I attended the Club Tour Networking Event. My chapter and I were so lucky to find enough tickets to go on this trip. Not only was the food to die for, but seeing clubs from around the San Antonio area was something not many people get to do. Visiting with the managers in a more relaxed setting was also a great way to build genuine connections. A talk on a bus en route to San Antonio Country Club with the manager sitting next to you is about as real as it gets. You are simply “hanging out” with your potential employers, and the managers get to see students in a light that they don’t really get during other Conference settings.

Overall, Monday was a great way to start my week here in San Antonio. I’m looking forward to all of the amazing people I have yet to meet and the exciting professional development that is to come.

Kaitlin Smith

Kaitlin Smith

My name is Kaitlin Smith, and I am a junior in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University.  I am Vice President of our CMAA student chapter. My involvement in CMAA has been extremely valuable to my career development because of the numerous opportunities I have had to interact with industry professionals, and the things that I have learned from them. I interned at Baltimore Country Club in Baltimore, MD during the summer of 2014, and I will also be interning at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, CA this upcoming summer.

Congratulations to Our Newest Scholarship Recipients!

One of my favorite parts of my job is calling people to let them know that they’ve been awarded a Club Foundation Scholarship. Their excitement is contagious and I love to share in their happiness. I’ve had people shriek, cry, thank me profusely and call me their new best friend. I wish I could take credit for awarding them a scholarship but they earned it all on their own and our Allocation Committee (made up of club managers) actually makes the decisions for who is awarded scholarships. I’m just lucky enough to get to tell the recipients. Putting names and faces and people with the money that is awarded really connects the dots and shows me our real impact. We’re helping people achieve their goals!

I got to do another round of congratulatory phone calls last week to our newest recipients of the Willmoore H. Kendall Scholarship and our inaugural group of James B. Singerling Scholarship Recipients. The Kendall Scholarship is our longest-running manager scholarship and it assists mid-management level members with their pursuit of the CCM. They receive the tuition for every Business Management Institute course needed for certification eligibility, including the review course! This year, four more worthy club managers were awarded a Kendall Scholarship, bringing our total to 54 Kendall recipients since 2002. The Kendall Scholarship is our most valuable scholarship in terms of how much money is awarded to each recipient. Currently, this scholarship is worth more than $10,000!!! That’s huge! I hope you’ll join me in congratulating this year’s Kendall Scholars:

Bret Borshell Photo

Bret Borshell, Kensington Country Club,      Naples, FL


Benjamin Hales, Metropolitan Club – Washington, Washington, DC


Erica Pepper, Colleton River Plantation,      Bluffton, SC

Kyle Ruch DM Photo

Kyle Ruch, Bent Tree Country Club, Dallas TX

I’m also excited to announce the inaugural class of recipients of the James B. Singerling Scholarship. These worthy individuals are committed to making a difference in their club, chapter and/or community. The scholarship provides them with the resources to attend the 2015 CMAA World Conference on Club Management and Club Business Expo in San Antonio in March. I’m looking forward to seeing these members in San Antonio!


James T. Carnahan, Old York Road County Club, Spring House, PA


Melissa Roy, Oahu Country Club, Honolulu, HI

scott shardelow

Scott Shardelow, CCM, Lochland Country Club, Hasting, NE

Todd Zorn

Todd Zorn, CCM, Salem Golf Club, North Salem, NY

Congratulations again to all of our scholarship recipients! If you’ve never thought about applying for a Club Foundation scholarship before, please consider applying this year. Let us help you achieve your professional development goals. I’d love for you to be my next recipient phone call!

Who Do You Support? Conference Has Options!

It goes without saying that Conference is THE biggest event of the CMAA year. It’s also the biggest event for The Club Foundation – no surprise there. Whether it’s the silent auction or the Run With the Presidents, our events at Conference raise more than $200,000 annually, all of which goes to benefit the scholarships, grants and programs that The Club Foundation funds throughout the year.

Last year's Casino Night was a big hit!

Last year’s Casino Night was a big hit!

2015 is no exception! This year, we have a full docket of events at Conference that will not only (hopefully) continue the tradition of raising significant funds for our programs, but will also be a TON of fun. Like, a Texas-sized amount of fun. Which is a lot.

We’re starting the week off with a return of a Conference favorite! The Texas Lone Star Chapter is hosting a golf tournament at The Quarry Golf Club on Sunday, March 8. The proceeds from this event will directly benefit the Sally Burns Rambo scholarship – a scholarship that provides financial support to female club managers interested in furthering their professional development. Interested in playing? Register today!

Runners in Orlando get ready to fly.

Runners in Orlando get ready to fly.

In addition to the new events, we’ve got a couple of member favorites rounding out the week. On Tuesday, March 10, we’ll get an early start to the day with the Gregg-Rhodes showdown at the Run With the Presidents. Trust me, that’s a race you won’t want to miss! The 5K run (or 1.5 mile walk) will take us through the streets of downtown San Antonio and the funds generated will benefit Tee It Up for the Troops (Seth wrote a bit about our relationship with TIUFTT last week).

Tuesday night we head to the Texas State Fair! Okay, not the real State Fair. We’re actually just headed to the Marriott Rivercenter for The Club Foundation event. But, the event is going to be pretty spectacular. Evoking a Lone Star State tradition (since 1886! They don’t mess around with fairs in Texas.), The Club Foundation event will feature amazing food, games, live music (!), dancing and more. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to taste some fair food. (Rumor has it there’ll be fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches!) Added bonus: the proceeds from the evening go to provide essential funds for The Club Foundation’s Scholarship and Grants Program. So, not only do you get to have a fun at the Fair, you’ll be helping fund the future of the club industry.

The Wine Society and Club Foundation Auctions promise to be even more exciting this year with new online bidding!

The Wine Society and Club Foundation Auctions promise to be even more exciting this year with new online bidding!

Not to be forgotten are the annual Auctions. In conjunction with the International Wine Society’s wine auction, The Club Foundation will have items to bid on Tuesday, March 10 and Wednesday, March 11. What’s exciting about this year’s auction? It’s moving online! Bidders can preregister for the auction by visiting or register in-person with a swipe of their credit card. Bidders can place bids from their smartphones, regardless of their location at Conference or the time of day. Bids can also be placed by text message, and there will be on-site kiosks available in the auction area. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and the changes to the auction are no exception!

If you’re still looking for another way to support the Foundation at Conference, you can “Fill the Boot!” Pick your target from any of the scholarships the Foundation offers (Can’t choose? Make a general donation instead!), drop a pledge card in the giant cowboy boot, located across from Registration, and help us kick the year off right!

We can’t wait to welcome you to San Antonio!

For Our Freedom!

I just got back from one of the most emotional experiences I’ve ever had.

It may have been a work event, but if you had attended and felt nothing? Well, then you might not have a heart. Two gentlemen, both more than 90 years old, stood up and talked about their military experiences. These guys were studs. The host asked one of them – “What was going through your mind the day before D-Day?” Think about that! The fact that you can actually ask that question is amazing. It was hard to comprehend the fact that there were two war heroes from the 1940’s having an everyday conversation with us. One of the two actually jumped out of planes from only a few hundred feet above the ground – absolutely crazy!

TIIUTT january 2015

#selfies on the course!

Okay, so you’re probably wondering where I was to hear such amazing stories. The event was the fourth annual Tee It Up for the Troops Reunion Event. The Club Foundation started its relationship with Tee It Up for the Troops (TIUFTT) back when TIUFTT was founded in 2005. Their founder, J.B. Ball, whose son is in the military, was looking for a way to give back to those that had been impacted by their service. TIUFTT does a fabulous job of disbursing the money to those that need it most. The Club Foundation got involved because we thought it was an ideal way of helping those that contributed so much to our country and indirectly support the club industry: many former military personnel become club managers. We highlight TIUFTT at our annual Run with the Presidents at CMAA’s World Conference, which gets club managers running with wounded warriors to jump start their day. This year my colleague, Nichole Rhodes, has challenged me to a run-off and of course after this week I accepted. Game on Rhodes!

We played golf with two different military folks, one on Friday and one on Saturday. On Friday, we played with Jim, a veteran who lost his legs in the Vietnam war when he was 20 years old, who is now 68. He won the Boston Marathon in a wheel chair and skis like an Olympian – what have you done lately? What an experience it was to socialize and compete with someone like Jim.

On Saturday, we got to spend time with Rob, a Green Beret, who suffered many brain injuries and is set to retire from service this year. Having the opportunity to meet the men and women that have given so much so that you and I have our freedom is really special. While I was there, I spoke with other non-military folks about how these veterans truly want us all to live our lives . In doing so, it makes their sacrifice so much greater. I felt totally overwhelmed and humbled.

New Year, New Beginnings


That’s me, Nichole.

Happy New Year! In the season of resolutions and positive change, it seems only appropriate to start the first chapter of our 2015 story in a new medium… welcome to The Club Foundation‘s new blog, Impact. You’ll see different people contributing to this blog as time goes on, but I’m fortunate enough to do the first post. Mostly because I’m sneaking it in before anyone else has a chance to do it. I’m Nichole Rhodes. I’ve been with CF in a variety of roles for more than 14 years. Currently, my largest hat belongs to managing the Scholarship and Grant Program for CF. Even though I’ve never written a blog post in my life, I’m really excited about this new adventure. Our goal is to tell our stories of impact, increase awareness, share good news and allow you to get to know our staff a little better.

So what’s going on at The Club Foundation? Now that the holidays are behind us, we’re gearing up full-force for the CMAA World Conference on Club Management and Club Business Expo in San Antonio, TX. The Foundation holds a number of events during Conference and my personal favorite is the Run with the Presidents 5K run and 1.5 mile walk. I love this event for so many reasons. I love that it brings members together in a more relaxed, casual setting than in education sessions or business meetings during the week. I love to see the camaraderie and true friendships among members and staff. I love that so many of the same people show up every year. I can count on seeing their smiling faces bright and early on race morning. And I love seeing the new faces of those who join us for the first time. I love that it gives us the opportunity to support our troops through Tee It Up For the Troops. I love that it gives people a chance to change out of their business attire, lace up some sneakers, get outside of the hotel and get some fresh air and exercise. Whether you’re a serious runner, a casual runner (like me!), or a walker, I really hope you’ll join us in San Antonio! It’s a lot of fun!

I’m particularly excited about the run this year because for the first time, I will actually be able to participate. Now, I’ve done races here and there, but I’m hesitant to actually call myself a “runner.” Over the holidays my running shoes developed a hefty layer of dust and the most strenuous activity I engaged in was baking (and eating!) way too many Christmas cookies. But I’m excited about being able to run in San Antonio. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve set a goal for this race. Just one goal. And that is to finish the race… before my boss, our COO, Seth Gregg. But to do that, I better get off the couch and get training!

If you’re like me and you overindulged during the holidays, why not join me and start training for this race? Work off those holiday treats and get a little exercise. I could use some training buddies! We’ve got just about two months until race day, so let’s do this together!

Check out this video of the fun we had in San Diego during the 2013 Run with the Presidents!