Every Team Parent’s Dirty Little Secret
OK, well maybe that was somewhat of a salacious headline to get you to read this…But come on, you weren’t going to open one titled, “Why you should appreciate your team mom”!
But you should. Second to the coach, the team parent can have the most effect on how successful and enjoyable your team experience will be. Now let’s assume they are the good-variety team parent and not the drama-causing, gossipy, control freak kind (I’ve been told they exist, although I have been fortunate to not experience one).
When you have a good one, they are part of the well-oiled machine that makes your team go. It’s a thankless job that involves chasing down delinquent parents, uncommunicative or very busy coaches, and wrangling upwards of 10-15 children, most who aren’t your own. And typically, you don’t hear from anyone unless something gets screwed up.
So then hear me out. You need to treat this person with the utmost respect, kindness and thoughtfulness. Because they are doing a job THAT NO MOM OR DAD IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD EVER WANT TO DO! An occasional thank you and bowing down in their presence might be in order.
Yet regardless of whether they knock it out of the park or hit a little dribbler – there are a few things you need to remember about your team parent:
- Typically, they have REAL jobs outside of being a team parent
- They have their OWN families, and your team is not and should not be their first priority
- They are NOT paid – even if they get club/team dues for free or discounted it wouldn’t cover the amount of time they put into it
- They DO NOT CONTROL the calendar or make lineup decisions – the coach does.
And after just one season, a good team parent could literally get a job doing any one of these things:
So, unless you want to pitch in, I suggest you do whatever you can to make them happy and make their job easier, lest they decide to give it up the next season and it ends up on your lap!
I reached out to several of my favorites to ask them what gets their blood boiling when dealing with parents – the #1 thing …
Re-asking information that has already been sent out, usually multiple times!
OK, seriously parents, and I’m definitely guilty of this, we know we read something a while back, and now the day is upon us and we need the info. But instead of going to the team calendar (that the team parent took the time to create) or going back through the ten emails (that the team parent took the time to write, highlight, bold, underline and my favorite, glow all the fancy text and then send several versions of) we decide to … that’s right, shoot them an email or text in the middle of the day while they are working their actual real job. Can you even imagine what must be going through their heads? “Hi Kim, are we wearing blue or black socks tomorrow?”
OK, so DON’T DO THIS. Take the 5 minutes yourself to refer back to old emails and the calendar and figure it out your damn self.
Now moving on…
For anyone thinking of taking on this job (I’m sure I’ve scared off most of you by now) or those of you who are or want to be better at it, here are 10 tips that came directly from my favorite team moms!
10 Ways To Be A Great Team Parent!
- NEVER discuss other parents or kids’ personal situations or feelings with other parents on the team.
- Print old team emails from previous years to .pdf and save them in a file. I refer back to my old seasons constantly. Whether it be the venue, how I introduced the season, etc. If it was an email to my team on June 5, 2019 that was regarding introductions, I save those with a naming convention like this: “19 0605 E to team re: introductions.” That way, the e-mails are in sequential order by date, and they tell you what they include so that you don’t have to search through hundreds of messages.
- Use Excel spreadsheets. They are incredible. They can do so much for you and keep you completely organized.
- Respond quickly to concerns, and check phone constantly for coach/parent communications!
- Keep a medical kit, plastic sandwich bags, extra water, and snacks with you all the time at practices and games. The coaches will have a medical kit, but they are likely too busy to stop and tend to a player who needs a Band-Aid or their earrings re-taped. Kids always forget to take off their jewelry, so plastic sandwich bags are always needed to hold them.
- Communicate early and often to your team. If you think you’re being annoying with the constant information, you’re doing it right. To that respect, make sure you have your emails laid out in a way that the parents who are just glancing will get the information they need. Highlight important dates/times and use bullet points for the things you don’t want to be missed.
- Write everything down! Or ask people to email instead of telling you at practice so you have a record and you can refer back to it.
- Do things NOW – time may be limited later.
- Don’t get your feelings hurt when people don’t reply to you immediately. It can feel like inviting people to a birthday party and no one RSVP’s or shows up. It’s okay, life happens, and they didn’t mean to ignore you. Resist the urge to shoot them a dirty look next time you see them.
- If being a team coordinator becomes too much, delegate! You don’t have to do it all, and there is another parent on that team that would be more than willing to help ease the burden for you. Delegating is freeing. Or trim the fat. If nobody wants to take on the team bonding event, then it gets cut out of the calendar.