Having a Plan Makes Game Days More Enjoyable for Everyone
With more than 1,000 players and nearly 850 games played in a regular season, it is easy to imagine that an average game day in Arlington (Texas) Southwest Little League can become busy pretty quickly. Regardless of the size or number of players, every league has its own routine on game day, and it’s the responsibilities and cooperation of league officials that make it possible to play ball.
Arlington Southwest Little League (ASWLL) is one of the largest leagues in Texas, with 10 divisions and 94 teams. League President, Brett Smith, provided Little League® International with some insight into how ASWLL operates, and explained that there are several different areas that must be accounted for each day of the year.
In order to successfully organize game day, the first thing a league needs to acquire is volunteers.
“In order to operate a game, we typically need about 40 volunteers,” said Mr. Smith. “We normally have 12 Board members, plus the umpires and the concession volunteers.”
Volunteers for ASWLL are assigned to specific areas of responsibility, or “lanes.” With the “lanes” established, volunteers attend to ONLY those responsibilities. Whether it is umpiring, concessions, or field maintenance, Board members and volunteers know to “stay in their lane.” If it is something outside of a volunteer’s specified responsibilities, they defer to the person responsible for that assignment.
When game day comes around, the City of Arlington preps the fields that are going to be used. The MLK sports complex is the league’s playing facility and has a total of six baseball/softball fields and two Tee Ball fields.
The balls for each game are placed in a bag behind home plate before the game starts, so umpires are never searching for them. With the way ASWLL functions, there does not need to be a game manager present at every game. Instead, teams must provide a scorekeeper, as well as a pitch counter.
“Managers, coaches and players do not have any operational responsibilities to attend to during or after games,” said Mr. Smith. “They are here to play baseball.”
The last bit of advice that Mr. Smith provided was to communicate expectations.
“Nothing will get done if people are not aware of what needs to be done,” he said. “We want to make sure volunteers are aware of their duties before they get to the field so they are able to get to work as soon as they get there.”
Using email, each volunteer is reminded of their duties prior to arriving at the games they are scheduled to work, and all of the Board members receive a schedule so they know ahead of time which games they will be working. If circumstances arise where a volunteer or Board member is unable to attend, there is a procedure in place for notification to the Board so that adequate coverage can be provided.
There are always chores and tasks to be done each day of the season, but as Mr. Smith has explained coordination, communication and accountability helps to keep the focus on playing games and having fun.