The first American Affiliate Cup was held on April 23, 2016 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
It was an idea spawned from Jeff Jucha’s experience judging in various competitions. As the Affiliate of West Little Rock CrossFit, Jucha has been a judge and a lead judge at Regionals. Through that experience, he’s been able to talk to and learn from many people about running events. “I figured I can put on a really good event and do some things I’ve never seen and would really like to see in an event,” said Jucha.
One of those aspects Jucha hasn’t seen before is allowing teams to pick their own charities. This means that Jucha will match the prize money for the winning teams and donate that amount to the charity those teams chose. “What we’ve done is given each team the decisions and the opportunity basically to represent a charity that they like, that they choose, so it could be somebody that’s very close to them, or an organization that they already work closely with,” he explained.
Jucha said the reason behind allowing teams to pick their charities is transparency. He spoke of other events he’s been to where they simply state part of the proceeds will go to “such-and-such” charity. “That’s just not very transparent, and I really don’t know the organization well,” he said. “[This] gives people a chance to come and represent their own. And we’re still an Affiliate team competition, we’re still putting on the best competition and have as much fun possible, but we wanted to add that layer of transparency and also choice for the team, so that they actually get to go and represent and choose and benefit somebody they know and like.”
Besides the new opportunity, Jucha said the rest of the American Affiliate Cup is run much like other competitions. This year it was held at the University of Little Rock, complete with vendors and concessions. He planned to start at 9 a.m. and end before 3 p.m. There were over 250 people in attendance, and 95 athletes competed, which reach the cap of 24 teams at the competition.
From attending various events to holding his own, Jucha said he has taken away several key pieces of advice:
No one wants to sit for 1.5 hours in-between workouts, said Jucha. “That’s our biggest takeaway is time management and making sure that teams aren’t sitting and aren’t getting bored,” he said.
Be selective about your judges. Jucha had an application process for the American Affiliate Cup and named one of his staff the judging director. “We’re going to select our team. We’re going to train our team how to judge,” said Jucha. He explained athletes and judges were held to Regionals standards.
Give people designated jobs and make sure they know what they need to be doing. While Jucha was the director of the American Affiliate Cup, he had an event staff director, a director of judging, a scoring director, a vendor director, etc. “If I’m too busy trying to run the front desk the whole time, I can’t help [where I am needed],” explained Jucha.
From day one, Jucha said it’s important to implement best practices for your competition. “Start small and treat it like it’s big, even if it’s not, because you treating it like it’s big is what determines where it’s going to end up at,” he said.
Finally, when it comes to sponsorships, he said it’s about relationships. For example, building a relationship with a local retailer allowed Jucha to use $30,000 of new Rogue competition equipment at the event. “Just build relationships, and your sponsorships and people wanting to get involved and volunteers and everything else will come from those relationships,” he said.