As players practice and leagues prepare for the Little League® International Tournament, parents and guardians also need to be ready to join their Little Leaguer® on this all-star journey. While teams play and advance, families can use the tips in this “survival guide” to make their excursions more comfortable.
The Essentials Go Bag
An over-sized shoulder bag or backpack is a must-have. The bag should be comfortable to carry, sturdy, and easy to stow in your vehicle. Among your essentials consider packing these items:
Sunscreen, sunburn soothing cream, sunglasses, hand sanitizer/wipes, bug spray, spare change and small bills for 50/50 or pass the can donations, a water bottle and/or travel mug, blanket and/or seat cushion, water-tight snack pouch, emergency contact numbers, child-proof case for medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), a first-aid kit (complete with self-adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, and paper tape), travel umbrella and/or rain gear, spare cellphone and device chargers, point-and-shoot camera, and binoculars.
The Mobile Wardrobe
A small rolling suitcase can hold a change of clothes for each member of your family, including your Little Leaguer®. Over-packing for the day is a good idea, and allows you to make a quick change due to heat and humidity, unexpected downpours, or the occasional dribble of ketchup from that concession stand hot dog. Be sure to include at least one cloth towel, a cap, and extra socks, shoes, and sandals.
The Portable Cheer Section
Every field or facility that hosts tournament games has some seating accommodations. At the minimum, a blanket or seat cushion will be your best friend. But, you’ll be envying those with their chair-in-a-bag complete with a cup holder or those with a padded, stadium-style seat with a back to enhance the bleacher experience. Some fields and game sites are located in areas where some shade providers can be set up. To stay out of the sun or provide a landing spot for families and friends, having a pop-up tent, canopy, or umbrella available is good to have with you when you travel. And, don’t forget to coordinate with your fellow parents on matching shirts, signs, and other accessories to cheer on your team.
The Must-Have Apps
GameChanger allows you to follow your team and the competition in the tournament through its free mobile app. If the tournament is using GameChanger and its live in-game scoring functionality you can follow along with cumulative statistics for both your team’s players and others playing in the tournament. If your team is fortunate to play in a location that has radio, television, or webcasting coverage, you also may be able use your mobile device to stream the game.
Download the Little League Rules App onto your mobile device. It is a great tool to have while in tournament mode. There is access to all of the current Little League rules and regulations and specific guidance on the tournament itself. The app only needs to be purchased once and provides access to all three Little League rule books. Also, updates are automatically applied.
Weather is always a concern, so be prepared by checking the forecast before leaving the house. There are several free apps available for download to your mobile device that not only give you an accurate weather report, but also provide alerts for lightning strikes in the area.
The Complete Cooler
Food and drinks are often an expense and convenience that is overlooked when traveling on the tournament trail, both for the family and your Little Leaguer®. Use a small, insulated cooler to carry cool drinks such as water or Gatorade, and other finger snacks or crackers, to your final destination. Stocking a second, larger cooler that stays in your vehicle frees you from taking too many trips to the concession stand or grab and go some food on the ride to, and from, the game.
Using these “survival” tips will NOT guarantee any wins, but they will help to make your tournament travels a more enjoyable experience.
Also, be sure to check ShopLittleLeague.org for the latest Little League gear!