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Lake Ridge Community Swim Club Closes Doors to Lake Ridge Lancers

The longtime home of the local swim team announced this week that they will no longer host the Lancers, a team that just won the White Division Championship this past weekend.

Update, Aug. 3: 

Original Story: 

The Lake Ridge Lancers will no longer swim at the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club, LRCSC Board of Directors President Patty Parker announced Monday. 

After congratulating the team on their recent White Division Championship win, Parker said that the team's size was now too great for the pool to accommodate. 

"As the size of the Lancer's team has increased over the years, so, too, has its time and use of the LRCSC pool facilities," Parker said in an email. "At one time, we could easily accommodate the general membership and the swim team without inconvenience or increased costs to either. However, as we have discussed before, that is no longer the case."

The LRCSC Board of Directors decided July 25 by a majority vote that the club would not host Lancers after the close of the 2012 swim season. The swim season ended Sunday with the championship swim meet. 

LRCSC Vice President Joe Mazzoccoli was not informed of or invited to the July 25 meeting. He told Patch that he would have voted in favor of keeping the Lake Ridge Lancers at the swim club, but said that even his vote would not have been enough. 

"I had had some surgery and they knew that, but then again on the other hand, they knew that I was in recovery, and they should have notified me of the meeting itself, because I could have made it," Mazzoccoli said. When he contacted Director of Operations Paul Nauth and asked why he had not been informed of the meeting, Nauth told him the Board had a quorum. 

"I certainly wouldn't have gone along with it if I had been there," Mazzoccoli said. "I have six kids who have also swum on the team." 

Underlying Reasons for Team's Departure? 

As a pool member, swim team parent, and pool board member, Mazzoccoli said he tried to understand both sides. He said the swim club's statement that the team was now too large for the pool was "not a valid reason."  

"The team has grown, but only by a few," he said. "It's also been less than this in different times, but it's also been as many as this. To say that that's the reason, I would say that's a bit on the bogus side." 

Mazzoccoli said he thinks the swim club has had problems with the swim team in the past. 

"It just seems like — and this is just my opinion — that they just don't want a team, and why, exactly, I'm not sure," he said. "They say it's because of the abuse of the pool; they say that there are not enough members. It's been 50/50 as far as members being on the team. They've tried in the past to make it members only, but then they'd lose half the team."

In Mazzoccoli's opinion, the swim club's decision to no longer host the Lancers means that they will likely lose a significant portion of the club members. 

"I know a lot of people that will not join the pool because there's not a swim team," he said.

Mazzoccoli said the swim club is holding an emergency meeting next Monday, Aug. 6.

"There's going to be a discussion on it then," he said. "I would hope that the members of the pool would speak up. The pool board members need to look at this as a community, not just as a swim club."

Dave Ross, president of the Lake Ridge Lancers Board of Directors, said he found a discrepancy between the LRCSC's stated explanation for no longer hosting the team, and the actual size of the team. 

"The irony is that the club board stated the size of the team, which actually is not larger, but which is smaller than it was in years past," he said. "Four years ago, the swim club had around 320 member families, and now they have about 212 member families, so the club is also significantly smaller. We're hard-pressed to understand why the size issue is a factor." 

Lake Ridge Lancers Vice President Lori McDonald said the team has hovered between 170 and 190 swimmers since 2004. The past three years, the team's membership has been at about 190. 2006 had the lowest membership in recent years, with 170 swimmers. 

"We have not significantly increased or decreased in size," McDonald said. 

Ross said the swim team has invested in the community at the swim club. 

"Many of our families are members of the swim club," he said. "Fifty percent of our swim team members are members of the swim club, and 40 percent of our swim team families are part of the swim club."

Ross has been both a swim team parent and a swim club member for about a decade, and McDonald has been both a swim team parent and a swim club member for about 15 years.  

"Obviously, I can't insert myself into what their thought processes are," Ross said about the LRCSC decision. "From my perspective, the swim team is a great marketing tool for the swim club itself. We bring in a good number of members into the swim club itself, including members we bring in through our referrals, that are not members of the swim team. We're talking about significant dollars that we contribute to the club."

Pool Maintenance

Ross said the team also tried to be "good stewards of the swim club." 

Before the season started, many swim team parents spent several hours on two separate Saturdays preparing the swim club for the new season.

"Nasty work, it's cleaning out gutters and raking weeds, and we do it willingly and gladly," McDonald said. 

"We didn't do it for accolades, we did it to be good stewards," Ross added. "To my knowledge, on both of those Saturdays, everyone we saw participating was associated with the swim team. But they may have also been associated with the swim club itself, like myself."

Ross said he was disappointed by the decision. He was present at the July 25 board meeting, but was not allowed to be present at the session in which the LRCSC board discussed the decision that was not announced until Monday. 

"The Lancers item was not even on the agenda," Ross said. At that same board meeting, a document was circulated stating that the club was losing $24,000 a year on the swim team. 

Ross said that this was calculated with the number of what the swim club would gain if every swim team member was a swim club member. 

"A point that we have made repeatedly, is that the presence of the Lancer swim team provides an opportunity for even the slowest swimmer to participate," he said. "It's an opportunity for kids to exercise, to receive exceptional instruction, to better themselves with a life-saving skill set."

Ross said that in the several decades the Lancers have been at the club, thousands of children have swum in the team, making friends while learning to swim. 

"We exist for the children," he said. 

McDonald echoed this, saying that the parents who worked with the swim team were all volunteers. 

Future for Lancers

"It's quite disappointing to us both as members of the team and as members of the club that the club would make this decision without consulting the members," Ross said. 

In the months ahead, Ross and McDonald will attempt to work something out with the club, but will also begin looking for a new location for the team. 

LRCSC Secretary Bob Buckley voted against keeping the Lancers at the swim club, but told Patch he hoped the team and the club could come to a compromise. 

The biggest issue, he said, is not the size of the team, but the fact that about 60 Lancer families are not swim club members. About 40 Lancer families are also swim club members. 

"People are wondering why they're paying and these 60 other families aren't paying anything," Buckley said. "It doesn't seem fair that these 60 families are swimming for free at our club. There's wear and tear on our facility." 

Buckley said he had originally come to the LRCSC board in 2008, but had resigned for other reasons, and then, a few months ago, was asked to rejoin the board as secretary. 

"I found the meetings to be very frustrating because of the swim team issue," he said. "The more and more I get into it, there more there are other matters that the board needs to address. The good thing about the board's decision is that we're starting to hear from club members that want to be involved and express themselves." 

Buckley said he understands the strong feelings that many swim team families have about the decision. 

"Personally, my 6-year-old was upset when he heard about the decision, and he's not even a member of the swim team yet," he said. "The tradition of the Lancers is really a rich tradition, but at some time we have to tackle this issue of how to make the Lancers the team of the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club. I don't know how they ever became separate, and it must have been a long time ago. The rift between the Lancers and the swim club, it's growing and growing and growing. Just bickering back and forth." 

Swim Team at LRCSC?

Buckley has explored the idea of coming up with a new swim team for the club. 

"The first step going forward with this issue is talking to the older kids who swam on the team and getting them to be involved," he said. "Then I'm going to meet with the parents when the pool closes." 

He's thought about setting up a scholarship fund for families to fund their club memberships. 

The bottom line is that the club needs more money to run, Buckley said. "Over the last four years, we've lost over 70 members, and it keeps going down each year. The club is basically a non-profit organization, but it's never taken a vow of poverty." 

There's the basic overhead of running the pool, the expense of providing activities, the expense of staying open on the weekends, and the expense of needed repairs, he said. "You can't expect a return on your investment if you're not willing to invest your money and time into a pool like this."

He said other members have also complained about how much time and space the swim meets take up. 

"They set up on a Friday night, and then they're out there at 6:30 in the morning, and it's supposed to end at 1 p.m., and then the other members will come in," he said. "Now the other 200 and some members are inconvenienced by these meets, and it takes up a couple weekends during the summer, and if these other 60 families aren't paying, that fuels ill feeling."

The most important thing is communication and willingness to compromise, he said.

"It can be resolved if people are willing to sit down and listen," he said. "The good thing about the board's decision is that now we're hearing from people. I don't think this is the end of the book, but the beginning of a new chapter. It's about getting it out in the open and getting some really frank discussions and maybe resolving the issue." 

"I'm not in favor of just banning the Lancers. I'm looking to cover the expenses of the club and just have everybody get along," he said.  

The Lake Ridge Lancers Board released a statement shortly after Parker's email assuring parents that the team would find a new home in time for the 2013 season. 

"The fact that this decision was purportedly made at the club board's Wednesday, July 25 board meeting and was not communicated until today appears to be a conscious decision to preclude any knowledge or discussion of the decision at last night's parents meeting," the statement read. "The club’s decision to no longer host the team without appropriately polling the entire membership should be a matter of great concern to all members. Now is the time for these members to be recognized and to have their voices heard, and for the club board to recognize the impact of this decision."

The statement ended with a call for club members to read the club's bylaws and attend the annual membership meeting on Sept. 3.

Want to get your voice in this story? Add it in the comments or send an email to rachel.leon@patch.com.

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Kimberly Bowyer August 02, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I woke up with a bad head cold today and am having a much harder time putting my thoughts together than yesterday, but I must say..I am so upset and appauled by Mr. Buckley's response. I would love for him to PLEASE explain to me what the difference in the Lancers and a new team would be? I'm guessing...NOTHING!!! And how can he say he voted to kick the Lancers out then say he has two children that he'd like to swim for the Lancers!?! His response to you really makes me unhappy to BE a member. That is NOT the representation I'd like to have. Kicking a group of kids out for another group is not only bad business, it's not being good people. I also feel if the Lancers PAY a fee to have their "home" at LRCSC, you sure do have a voice. I am shaking I'm so mad at his response. He certainly does NOT speak for THIS member. A new team will NOT help the aging pool infastructure any more than keeping the Lancers. The more I read it, the more angry I get and the less it even makes sense. At least yesterday I could clearly see all point being made, agreed with several as well, but his babbling is none sense. "relationship between the swim team and the LRCSC couldn't become more mutally united." He voted to REMOVE you, how does that permote unitity?
Kimberly Bowyer August 02, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I truly wish the pool had LOCAL life guards that speak and clearly understand English. I remember when I first joined, there were local young adults doing that job, where did they go? They would speak to the long time members and it gave the feeling of community and it was really nice. The feeling you are all speaking of as being long time memebers of the pool or the Lancers.
Kimberly Bowyer August 02, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Doug Jaeger: I have updated my first post. Thanks for the idea. I also hope to be invited to at least one meet for the Lancers, no matter where they are. I've thought a lot about this since yesterday and remember that "family" type of team spirit from when my son was growing up. I even realized I miss it some. Maybe not all the juggling and running around as much, I did it for 14 years, I'm enjoying the time off at this point. :) I truly wish the team the best of luck and do hope they stay at the pool under a much better tone. I'd rather have your group as another one that we know nothing about.
Anne Ehlers August 02, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Oh, this is soooo frustrating. And, I had to learn about it from Facebook friends...even more frustrating! Composing my letter to the board members as I type. Never sent the angry one I created last year...this one will get sent...and we're not even Swim Team members anymore and it angers me! Where do I get one of those "regal memberships" anyway????
Anne Ehlers August 02, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Oh yeah...and on the communication issue...if you go to the website the "latest BoD report" is from May 2009!!!! Extra nice
Doug Jaeger August 02, 2012 at 03:15 PM
What I want to see happen is for the pool members to gather as much factual information as possible, make an opinion and if need be make notes so that if and when you have the opportunity to voice your opinion you can do so clearly and politely. Negative attacks to individuals won't help make your case, but it will cause open dialogue to shut down. The swim team is best served if it has the opportunity to stay at LRCSC and that is a fact. The LRCSC is best served if it has the swim team has the opportunity to stay there. That too is a fact. If allowed the opportunity to stay at LRCSC, rest assured I will work as has as possible to make sure any negative feelings are heard and addressed so that the team and pool not only survive but thrive. I urge all parties involved to keep their tone civil and be open minded to each others ideas and suggestions. Kimberly, I have non swim team friends at other local pools and they too are sometimes frustrated by the pool use of the swim team. If we had thought about it, the swim team would have worked harder in informing the pool members of upcoming swim meets and the time that it would take up. That will be something I will address next season if we are allowed/invited to stay.
Doug Jaeger August 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Thank you so much for a wonderful sign of good faith. Every year I complain about all the running around, the crazy work schedule that allows me to attend meets and have my kids attend practice. Every Saturday it is worth it ten fold. We want the LRCSC to be proud of their/our swim team. We will do a better job of showing our appreciation to the club if we swim there next year. That's a promise!
Kimberly Bowyer August 02, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Your approach is the right approach. However, I really hope everyone can put down their own special interests for the good of all. Fingers are crossed. One fact that I'm aware of after all the years in sports with my son is people like to WIN. Your team winning the divisionals and that being assoicated with the pool can only be a good thing.
next door neighbor August 02, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I agree that there the membership needs more information about how the board arrived at this decision. Hard financial numbers on the minimum costs just to keep the pool open, costs of wear and tear on facility for hosting a swim meet and what does a swim team pay to use facility. How does the size of the team affect pool costs? If the Lancers are to big to host, what size of a team is acceptable? Will a team limited to club members only be any more financially feasible next year given the current level of membership? I personally think the whole swim team issue is smoke and mirrors to draw attention away from the issue of declining membership and the money needed to open the gates at all. Lack of overall membership, not just swim team and its membership makeup, is the real issue.
Kathi Levine August 02, 2012 at 08:18 PM
If the Lancers were to limit the team to members only there would be no team. There aren't enough kids to facilitate filling out a team and not enough volunteers to run meet. All jobs at the meet are filled on a volunteer basis. 66 jobs covering three shifts. 42 families doesn't come near the coverage needed. Please also keep in mind that many of our non member families have been with us for years and some even multi generational.
Michael Levine August 02, 2012 at 08:39 PM
It was a board decision to prohibit local high school students. Instead of getting our children gainful employment though the summers they would rather give the money to foreign children that take the money back to their home countries after they are done the summer. I also would rather have a guard I could talk to. And also god forbid there should be a crisis at the pool and we have life guards that cannot communicate. That would be a bad thing. thanks Kim for voicing your opinion
Kimberly Bowyer August 02, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Mr. Levine, forgive my lack of a better phrase but, that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard!!! BRING BACK THE LOCAL KIDS!
Michael Levine August 02, 2012 at 09:15 PM
No problem. The reasons were given that if the patrons know the guards the guards would let them get away with no following rules and or guards may be distracted by friends talking to them.
Kimberly Bowyer August 02, 2012 at 09:53 PM
SMDH! I'm speachless. That makes it qualify even more for the most stupid thing I've ever heard. BRING BACK THE LOCAL KIDS!!! If we're talking about a community pool, we should only support OUR community. This disappoints me a great deal. I miss the friendly atmosphere with the guards. I do not appreciate the language barrier in the slightest.
Michael Levine August 03, 2012 at 02:03 AM
So this little blurb is on the LRCSC site. It was a very nice letter about Paul's Party which the pool sponsored ( through membership dollars) and a congrats to the swim team for their achievements. It said this "The Lancers Swim Team elected to be independent of the LRCSC a few years back and we have been the "host pool"since that time. The team has performed well, proudly boasting the championship earlier this month. We wish them well and continued success in their competitive endeavors. " I thought the LRCSC asked the swim club to be independent because they could not manage the team, NOT that the team elected to become a separate entity. Can anyone tell me which is true? It happened before I was there.
Julie M Jaeger August 03, 2012 at 09:35 AM
If I remember correctly, we were pushed/encouraged to become a separate entity. But what difference would being a separate to being sponsored? Nothing financially changed except we got our own tax exempt number. I believe that might be an attempt to save face to the members. There are other reason that the team went through with it too, but it is negative and I will not share it. Kim, The lifeguards are provided by the Pool company the board chooses. 5 years ago the pool was managed by Virginia pools, which most other pools around here use. They hire mostly local kids and really knew how to manage the aging pumps at the pool. When the pool switched to using a "lower-rate" Pool Management company, their issues with the lifeguards, pump, cleanliness, and other stuff. My Dad taught me, you get what you pay for...... Now I am going to stop worrying about this anymore. Whatever will be, will be. I am going to shop with my kids, watch the Olympics with my Daughter (watching Kaite Ledecky whom she has swam against in year round swimming and watch my daughter's event 200 back) I know the Lancers will go on, we are a strong family/team. So Lancers stay strong and positive, because our leaders are the best! Stay tuned for news!!
Lauren Jost August 03, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Latest update that Patch has written on the Lake Ridge Lancers story: http://woodbridge-va.patch.com/articles/lancers-may-stay-at-longtime-home
LakeRidge Pool Member August 04, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Okay, look everyone. you all don't knw what your talking about. I know the board personally, and you all are nothing but a punch of gossips! You should be ashamed of yourselves. And talking about Paul that way, shame on you, all of you. You all have nothing better to do then gossip about an old man who did nothing but love eveyone at the pool? Well then you all have the problem. Oh, and is anyone gonna mention how the swin team didn't pay their bills on time? Yea, In July they were supposed to pay there bill of $900+ on July 1st, but they payed some around $200 on July 16th. Late, and the wrong about. How can they not have the full amount, they pay for NOTHING! Don't talk about things you don't know.
Kathi Levine August 04, 2012 at 12:31 AM
That bill included charges for life guard fees for life guard time that hadn't been used yet. The pool board decided to take $500 and wait for the actual life guard usage to be paid the rest.
Michael Levine August 04, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I was not talking about Paul that way. I was talking about the board spending money on parties when they say they have no money. Oh and by the way i have no issues telling people how i feel about things without hiding behind pseudonyms. I respect folks more if they take accountability for what they say and do even if i dont agree with them
Doug Jaeger August 04, 2012 at 05:42 AM
LakeRidge Pool Member, the bottom line is that losing the swim team is bad for the club. It's also bad for the swim team. We are trying very hard to let go of the past and start new so that we can all have a solid working relationship.I look forward to seeing you at the meeting so that we can all move in the right direction. Enjoy your weekend, I'll be joining the pool so that our family once again has a voice and also to prove to the pool board that I'm serious about wanting the fences to be mended.
ThisisAmerica August 06, 2012 at 04:13 PM
You swim people should get your own pool in your backyard so your little booger eating kids can swim. SO many kids is the reason why I have my own...before any of the swimming nazi mother's talk I do have a child and an empty nester like Kimberly.. YAY for Kimberly for speaking her view and to the parents of the swim team "when your kids leave for college lets see what your view will be then as an empty nester".
Doug Jaeger August 06, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Hopefully "ThisisAmerica" doesn't represent the pool board. Their language and comments towards my kids & other members kids is appalling. Pool members who have kids that are not on the swim team should be as upset and offended as I am. I guess that after calling parents Nazi & our kids booger eaters, they are Goo ashamed to use their real name. I'll be at the meeting tonight wearing khaki shorts and a blue button down shirt, I have a shaved head and red facial hair so please feel free to introduce yourself. Let's talk this out like civil adults, I promise not to stoop to the level you have so eloquently displayed.
Pat Kashtock August 06, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Pat Kashtock Thank you for writing this, Amy. We are still members of LRCSC. I am appalled this has happened. We need to change it back. Seems the "community" in Lake Ridge Community Swim Club has been dropped. I guess we need to change the name to LRSCTC ie Lake Ridge Self Centered Tanner's Club. Eesh.
Pat Kashtock August 06, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Ewww. My kids would never have been interested in something so watered down
Pat Kashtock August 06, 2012 at 10:33 PM
You are kidding, right?
Amy McMullen August 07, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Can anyone give us an update about last night's meeting?
Kimberly Bowyer August 07, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Amy McMullen: I was at the meeting last night and I left with the feeling both sides listened and are very open and willing to work this out for the good of the pool members as well as the team. Stephanie did an awesome job! Woohoo to her. As did everyone else, but she organized it and she really did a terrific job. Thanks to her.
Rachel Leon (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Working on it! :)
Rachel Leon (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 05:35 PM
An update on last night's meeting: http://woodbridge-va.patch.com/articles/lake-ridge-lancers-negotiate-return-with-swim-club

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