Inviting parents to an open meeting after the new Board of Directors has been elected both welcomes and encourages adults to become actively engaged in your league’s activities.
This meeting is different from the annual membership meeting and should be inspirational, informative, and aspirational in tone and all family members should be encouraged to attend.
Depending on the geographic size, league boundaries, division structure, and player enrollment of your league, this can be one meeting or several smaller get-togethers with the information shared being what these constituents need to know about the league and coming season. It’s a good idea to schedule a Parents Meeting for all of the families in your league, this can either be done after registration before tryouts and the draft, or after you’ve placed the players on teams, and you’re ready for Opening Day and the start of the season. Be sure to have all the information that is important for parents ready for them to take home with them. Little League International has created some important resources that you should consider making available, including the Parents’ Guide to Little League and the Residency Eligibility Checklist.
Before, during, and after player registration, there are several questions this group will have, whether they know what they are, or not. To help you prepare for such a meeting here are few questions and answers to consider.
Q: Why it’s important to inspire?
A: Inspiring families by giving them a vision of what being a part of your league will look and feel like is critical to the overall perception. Talk about how their Little Leaguer® will become part of the team, and focus on the sportsmanship, commitment to a common goal, and self-awareness that come from being a part of something bigger than themselves.
Q: What will the Little League® experience be like for me (the parent)?
A: All adults are strongly encouraged to volunteer in whatever capacity interests them. With time being at a premium, explain the various ways a person can contribute for the betterment of the children. The experience that a parent enjoys will be determined by how much engagement and involvement he/she has with the child, the team, and the league. Online, via your local league website and social media pages, families are able to review league schedules and information, easily expand their knowledge of the league, and share special moments.
Q: How can I get a parent to understand why Little League is important to our community?
A: It is critical to create a point of view that supports the general mission of Little League, and give localized reasons why the program is more than just playing games. Provide perspective by asking the introspective question: Why did you chose to put your child/children into the league? In doing so, explain the benefits to the children, among them that anyone is welcome play; and the opportunities afforded parents to get outside their homes, expand their social circle, and give back to their neighborhood.
Q: What’s next?
A: Be prepared to outline the timeline for upcoming responsibilities and league activities. This includes everything from upcoming fundraisers and payment of registration fees to dates for tryouts, how teams will be selected, and when parents will be informed of team placement. Communicating clearly and concisely will manage parent expectations and improve overall parent satisfaction.
Q: How long does the Little League season last and what is the time commitment?
A: All local Little Leagues are structured to suit the community in which it operates. Outline the league’s calendar for the year and explain the duration of the season from registration through the regular season; tournament season to the end of fall ball. Feel free to explain the divisions, age breakdowns, draft methods, league fundraising and finances; playing equipment, field locations, and other operations-related information, such as background checks, ASAP, and insurance. Also, again take the opportunity to emphasize the importance of volunteering, giving examples such as: Board member, team manager or coach, umpire, concession stand worker, or on the field maintenance staff.
Q: What are our Little League’s expectations and goals?
A: Be certain to task your Board of Directors with being diligent, transparent, and fair in its management of all league operations. Then publicly assure the parents that they will not have any regrets during, or after, the season. If you ask this group directly what they expect from their Little League season, and, in turn, assert what the league has set as its goals to deliver a fun and rewarding experience for the Little Leaguers®, you will have established a level of accountability and trust that is likely to benefit the league for seasons to come.
The best advice for talking to this group of constituents is to be prepared by knowing your Little League facts (local league bylaws) and the operational details (Little League Rules and Regulations) that directly affect the players. Provide clear direction on the chain of command; and methods of communication used by the local league. Most of all, be welcoming, organized, and provide an atmosphere that will inspire families to become active members of your league for years to come.