Alumni Letterwinners organizations are structured in a variety of ways. Many are structured as part of the overall Athletics Department with a staff member assigned to oversee a volunteer Board of Directors from the letterwinners organization. Some are standalone 501-c3 organizations that operate independently but in partnership with their respective Athletics Departments. Others are subsets of either the Alumni Association or the Foundation of their respective University. Within each of these structures are common issues and unique challenges. NLWA recognizes these differences and adjust its annual conference programming to respect the similarities and differences of these structures.

Unique Status of Alumni Letterwinners:

The high profile nature of intercollegiate athletes puts both current and former Student-Athletes in a very unique position. It is our opinion that any alumni letterwinner is recognized with a special degree of respect both in their respective community and around the country. Athletic alumni have a unique status that is at the heart of alumni letterwinner organizations. These men and women have given their time, energy and sometimes endured pain and injury on behalf of the University. They have made considerable sacrifices and the University has gained considerable rewards because of these efforts. This alone makes former student-athletes ‘different’ than University alums as a whole. We feel this issue makes the role of a letterwinners organization infinitely more important to the Athletics Department.

Alumni Letterwinners Association Goals:

It is our opinion that the key to the success of an active, vibrant alumni letterwinners organization lies in the esteem that it is held by the Athletic Administration, particularly the Director of Athletics. Although individual organization goals may vary there are two common goals that exist in all organizations.

  1. To serve its membership (athletic alumni and/or letterwinners).
  2. For athletic alumni and/or letterwinners to individually and collectively support their respective Athletic Departments in the best manner possible.

Athletic Department Supports Alumni Letterwinners:

In its simplest form, our organizations serve its members on behalf of our Athletics Departments and respective Universities in a manner similar to any alumni organization. We have websites, newsletters, host reunions, golf outings, recognize outstanding teams, and individual accomplishments. In general, we provide a consistent point of contact for the alumni letterwinners back to the Athletics Department. By performing this service the Athletic Department is reaching out to and staying in touch with their alumni! The benefit of this service is obvious; your alumni letterwinners feel appreciated by the Athletic Department and stay informed with what is going on in athletics. The feeling of connection provides the opportunity to pay significant dividends over a period of time. At the very least your alumni will become strong advocates and supporters of your program in the community. Conversely, if your alumni do not feel appreciated and connected they can harbor feelings of not being appreciated. There is nothing worse than a former student-athlete speaking negatively about the program they once represented on the field of competition.

Alumni Letterwinners Supports the Athletic Department:

Athletic Departments, through their alumni letterwinners organizations, perpetuate an ongoing loyalty that can reap a spectrum of rewards. By feeling appreciated and respected they become a positive influence in their communities, often in the city that the University is situated. In addition, by staying connected and feeling appreciated, the athletics department will develop a positive atmosphere for potential financial giving. When solicited for a potential financial gift an alumni letterwinner can never say you don’t care or that you don’t stay in touch! Moreover, alumni letterwinners can serve other positive roles by becoming active volunteers or making appearances and speaking on behalf of Athletics. All this is made possible through the efforts of alumni letterwinners organizations.

Why the National Letterwinners Association:

Like any professional organization, NLWA is made up of leaders of alumni letterwinners organizations from around the country. These professionals represent athletic departments from a variety of conferences and different sized institutions. However, many of the country’s major Universities have played an active role in the growth and development of NLWA. These individuals and organizations are leaders in this area of Intercollegiate Athletics. Regardless of the size school you represent, many of the issues faced by letterwinners organizations are similar.With this in mind, our annual conference allows these leaders to share best practices and to make presentations on cutting edge strategies and special events that can make your alumni letterwinners organization better! You can learn from others without having to go through the trials and tribulations of starting from scratch. You can also develop lifelong friendships and networking relationships through participation in NLWA.

Discussion Topics at the Annual Conference:

Topics that are discussed at the Annual Conference include, but are not limited to: dues structure, boards of directors, reunion types and reunion time lines, athletic awards, honorary membership, career nights, career and business networking, database and the collection and retention of information, NCAA compliance issues, newsletters, websites, letterwinners rooms/access policies, meeting diversity needs of current and former student-athletes, and mentoring.

Why Your University Should Be Involved In NLWA:

By attending the NLWA Annual Conference your organization will be exposed to current trends, events, and activities that are taking place with similar organizations around the country. Regardless of the length of time your letterwinners organization has been in existence or the size of your school, you will learn strategies that will benefit your organization improve the way it supports its members and supports your athletic department. No matter how good your organization may be, you can always be better! No one can understand that concept better than those involved in the ‘world’ of athletics. By attending the NLWA annual conference you will not only improve your organization, but also expand networking resources that can help your organization, school, and athletics department in numerous ways in the future. 

Looking to the Future:

One of the emerging points of emphasis for alumni letterwinners is the importance of ‘real world’ value. This is where networking can be a tremendous tool. At this time student-athletes looking for jobs upon graduation have had as their main resource former letterwinners at their own institutions. Imagine the power of networking with alumni letterwinners around the country. This is the opportunity that exists for our members right now! We are engaging contacts and resources from other like organizations to create one of the most powerful networking opportunities that has ever existed. Think of what this can mean for your institution and your alumni letterwinners, regardless of age. This is just one valuable reason for being involved with NLWA! And, there are many more!!