At Little League® International in Williamsport, Pa., and at our Regional Offices, calls and emails come in all year long about different situations that are happening at some of our 7,000 local leagues. Many of these calls and emails inform us of some very positive initiatives spearheaded by our millions of volunteers. However, there are also negative situations.
“Don’t Let This Happen to Your League” details a real-world scenario, how it has impacted a league, and how you might learn from it.
The names have been omitted in the following scenario, but the situation is real.
For years, the local league has had the same League President, who, along with her husband and a couple of Board of Directors members, handled many of the essential functions of the league. Among her many tasks, which she carried out often without asking for help or turning away volunteers who couldn’t commit at the level she was looking for, the League President completed the league charter and insurance renewal, as well as the ASAP plan and background checks. She also oversaw registration, all opening day ceremonies, and all fundraising activities. Her husband was the league’s Vice President for the major baseball division, the league’s Player Agent for the junior softball division, and coached a minor division baseball team. Unexpectedly, the League President’s employer reassigns her to a position that requires the family to move out of the country just weeks before the start of upcoming season’s player registration. Because the League President handled many of those tasks previously, the remaining Board members have no sense of what they are supposed to do next, despite the League President and her husband doing their best in the transition, the league is left floundering in their absence.
Through many phone calls, emails, and video conferences between the District Administrator, the outgoing League President, the Regional Center, and current Board members, a method was identified for electing a new League President. Although the new League President was in place, the start of the season came so quickly, that Board’s focus was to get the games played. Unfortunately, a variety of issues and delays arose due to the inexperienced volunteers and lack of a transition plan in place within the league.
- That approach neglected several basic administrative responsibilities, like completion of volunteer background checks, ASAP plan submission, facilities maintenance, and scheduling umpires.
- Having no Player Agent for the junior softball program caused the player evaluations and draft to be later than in past seasons.
- Having no softball rosters finalized until after neighboring leagues set their regular-season schedules, the league missed out on the chance to interleague with other district Little League programs.
- Several Major and Minor baseball games were officiated by one umpire, or a parent.
- Come tournament time, no one was familiar with verifying eligibility documents, preparing a tournament affidavit, or ordering team uniforms, which left the league scrambling to get teams ready for all-stars.
- Financially, the league also missed out on hosting a section tournament because it did not have the required approved ASAP plan, or volunteers to work the tournament games.
At the end of the season, the league found themselves on tournament hold for not completing their background checks, which led to a year without tournament play for the league.
The Little League Resource Guide can help leagues with their administrative tasks, so that if they are in a situation with a new League President or Board of Directors, they don’t find themselves overwhelmed or unsure of how to operate a local Little League program.
No volunteer wants to feel overwhelmed, even those who consistently show the willingness to help when called on. Each year, whether or not there is a new League President elected, it is in the best interest of the Board of Directors and the league to actively recruit new volunteers. Make Little League a welcoming place. Promote the local program as a chance for people to support the children of the community, and get to meet the people who are in the neighborhood. If a Board has returning members, encourage them to take on different responsibilities from the previous season. Allow newer volunteers to contribute with the support of a mentor or committee chairman. Define the roles and responsibilities for each Board position, as well as the different tasks volunteers are likely to perform during a typical Little League season. Find small ways to delegate tasks, promote involvement, and allow for individuals to learn more about how your league operates.
Avoid relying on a small group of people to run your league. The broader understanding of the league’s calendar, and the work to be done at certain times of the year, allows for flexibility, promotes transparency, and casts becoming a local volunteer as a rewarding opportunity.