Parents on the Field: Volunteering
Your Time in Team Sports
Does your child get a "kick" out of soccer? Is he fired up about football? Would she rather run the bases than sit in the bleachers?
If your child is a sports enthusiast, you may find yourself scheduling your own agenda around team pictures, fund raisers, Saturday afternoon games and season-end parties. You will be slicing oranges for half-time snacks, cheering from the sidelines and -- despite a hectic carpool schedule for practice sessions -- be proud of yourself that nobody's ever been misplaced.
Just when you think you are in the swing of things, you may find yourself at the receiving end of the question: "Next season, will you be the team parent of my team?" The term "team parent" is a non-threatening synonym of "team manager," also known as a management position without the luxury of a paycheck, 401K and weekends off.
Crystal Cook of Knoxville, Tenn. recalls hearing the sighs of relief from fellow parents this past fall when she volunteered to be the team parent of her son's American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) soccer team.
"When the coach asked for a parent to volunteer for the team parent position, everyone was afraid to move," says Cook. "It reminded me of being at an auction where someone accidentally bids on an item."
The duties of the team parent include ordering trophies, making arrangements for team photos, scheduling drinks and snacks for the games, delivering messages about postponed or canceled games or practices and organizing the end-of-season party.
"In essence, doing everything except coaching," Cook says.
Cook has always played an active role in her son's sport activities. She has always been there for him with her chair in tow and water bottle at her side. When her son's coach was actively seeking a team parent volunteer, she says she thought, "What the heck," and raised her hand.Teamwork for Team Sports
A team parent counts on teamwork from the parents of all players, as well as communication between all adults involved. Everyone should have a team roster listing the name and phone number of each player. Since most teams have a rotating snack schedule, the roster will come in handy if a parent who is scheduled to provide a snack finds it necessary to trade dates with another parent.