Every local Little League® strives to provide a safe environment for the players, managers, coaches, umpires, and volunteers, but prioritizing safety at your facility does not stop at the field’s fences.
Too often, leagues fail to realize the importance of keeping the areas around the fields free of potential injury and health hazards. Liz Berg, former Safety Officer for Concord American Little League (CALL), the 2019 A Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) national winner, and current Safety Officer for California District 4, offers some simple ways that local leagues and districts can effectively create a safer experience for those attending Little League games.
“Make Little League better for everybody by doing a small part,” said Mrs. Berg. “Your facility is your home away from home. When you take ownership of how it looks and it becomes a place of pride in your community, that is pretty cool.”
Through nearly 15 years on the CALL Board of Directors, including five years as League President, and as member of the district staff for the past several years, Mrs. Berg has seen how being organized and sharing the responsibility of promoting health and safety can work together for everyone’s benefit.
She provides a wholistic approach to the Little League calendar and explains how a local league can put procedures in place to make your fields and facilities safer.
- Make a punch list by walking the field(s), concession stand, scorer’s box, utility shed, parking lot(s), etc., then prioritize what needs to be repaired or replaced.
- Host a safety training event/meeting for local officials that focuses on executing daily game-day routines and responsibilities and offers an in-service on using your league’s safety equipment.
- Organize a safety/concussion/first-aid training for managers, coaches, and parents. During this meeting, also educate on common safety risks and on what to look for around the facility that could be potential safety hazards.
- Once the regular-season game schedules are developed, designate a “Board Member of the Day” rotation where a member of the Board of Directors is responsible for inspecting the playing facility and field(s) before the teams, volunteers, and families arrive for each day’s/night’s game(s).
- “Deputize” and encourage parents to help take care of the facility by doing basic things like picking up trash after each game or reporting any potential safety concerns to a league official.
- Promote constant upkeep. Make it known that board member is always on the premises on game days and is responsible for double-checking bathrooms, concession stand, press area, dugouts and playing field, inside and outside of the fence(s).
- Any situation regarding player safety, especially requiring medical attention, is an automatic call to the Safety Officer with a report filed with the Board of Directors.
- Go to see different divisions of play to keep in touch with league and community.
- Review the regular-season field survey and complete a new field survey on fields selected as hosts prior to the first tournament games. This includes having an approved ASAP plan for the current season on file with Little League International.
- Establish a constant method of (electronic) communication – For example: A dedicated wireless phone number for each field and a different phone number for general fields issues.
- Multiple meetings per month with the facilities staff, safety officers, and tournament site director(s) to answer any concerns and assign work tasks/facility repairs.
- Assign a tournament director for each field/facility who will be handling several “check-in” discussions with volunteers and manage the “to-do” list for that facility.
- Establish a schedule for the “Board Member of the Day” to be on-site to watch games and make a facility safety report (if necessary).
- Be dedicated to check the fields for safety and well-being of the players, coaches, volunteers, and spectators, families, and friends.
- Get involved by going to see different divisions of play to keep in touch with the league’s participants and community at-large.
- Promote communication, collaboration, and cooperation with the district’s safety officer, league safety officers and league presidents.
Note: Concord American Little League and California District 4 have been fully ASAP compliant each year since 2000.