Looking Ahead: Now’s the Time to Plan for Next Season
Games are being played, and Tournament season is a few weeks away, and while your 2015 season is far from over, now is really the perfect time to get a jump on the 2016 season.
With everything still top-of-mind, your Board has the opportunity to assess the needs of the league, discuss plans for the summer and fall, and have the members consider if returning to the Board next season is what they want to do. If you anticipate turnover on your Board, now is the time to start having conversations with other volunteers or people who might be interested in joining for 2016.
This is the month when the Board can review open items left for this season and long-term points of interest. Among the more common discussions for this year are: who will manage the team during the postseason; the process for selecting the Tournament teams and player verification; making operational and staffing decisions if the league is scheduled to host any local or district tournament games; and allocating money for the purchase of uniforms, entries fees, field maintenance, repairs to the facilities, and playing equipment.
While participating in All-Stars is a local league choice, entering teams in Tournament play is a great way to provide a different Little League® experience for your players and coaches. In addition to focusing on Tournament teams, also consider the other players, and what your league can do to continue to service their needs throughout the summer and into the fall.
When school lets out, parents and players welcome the chance to keep playing, whether or not a league is playing All-Stars. Make sure your Board emphasizes that once the calendar turns to June that all players in the program remain important. If there is interest to keep playing, a “second-season” opportunity should be made available.
The same is true of the Training and Development season that many leagues operate into the autumn months. The fall has also become the time when players can pre-register for the upcoming year. If your Board takes the time to decide now about how to handle the summer months, and plan for the backend of the Little League year, it will set up the new Board for smoother transition.
Thinking about the long term, this is a great time to get organized and look at the broader needs of your league in other ways. If your league has big projects that it’d like to tackle or needs support with, Little League has launched its Grow the Game grant program. Introduced this year, this program is designed to provide financial assistance to leagues for general enhancement, enhancement or development of the Challenger program, enhancement or development of the Little League Softball® program, and to leagues enrolled in the Little League Urban Initiative.
Take a close look at the day-to-day operation of league, and take note of what is working, or not. Be honest, and share with your fellow Board members what can be done to improve the experience for the children, the volunteers, and the community. Think of new roles for volunteers within your league. Go back to the Little League Chartering and Marketing Toolkit for ideas on how to grow your league.
Finally, take a moment to ask yourself why you chose to be Little League volunteer? If the answer includes, “doing it for the kids,” and you honestly believe that the mission of Little League is to foster good citizens by creating fun, positive and rewarding opportunities, then you’ll know that your heart and mind are in the right place.