One of the traditional roles a mother has always played in youth sports is that of Team Administrator ("TA"), the politically correct term for what used to be, and is in many places still called the Team Mom. One of the best around is my friend, Suzanne Komorowski, a licensed clinical social worker and mother of two sons from St. Louis, who was a fabulous summer nanny for my sons when they were three.
Having a TA or Team Mom doing all the behind-the-scenes work allows the coach(s) to focus on coaching. Finding a TA or Team Mom with strong organizational skills, like Suzanne, is a plus for any team.
Here are some of the major responsibilities of a team mom, team parent, or TA:
1. Money manager
Administering the financial end of a youth sports team can be a huge responsibility. The TA is often responsible for collecting money from parents for entrance fees for tournaments, equipment, clinics,season-ending gifts for coaches, and the like.
If a coach is responsible for the money, parents may worry that he or she is not paying their fair share. An updated financial statement should be distributed to each player's family on a monthly basis. The TA may also need to look into the need for team insurance. Most larger organizations/leagues require teams to carry insurance in case of injury and the team will have to have proof of insurance for entry into some tournaments.
Money may not be the root of all evil but it often causes problems for a youth sports team. I have seen hard feelings result between parents/coaches because of poorly managed records and unfair fee collection practices.
2. "Answer Person"
The TA is the "go-to" person on all questions regarding team activities, fundraising, tournaments, housing, etc. The TA should know the schedule and where to find the tournament brackets, directions, etc. via the Internet.
3. "Keeper of the list"
A team contact list is an important tool to aid in communication and getting to know team and family members. The contact list should include:
- player names and jersey numbers
- parents' or guardians names
- players' siblings names
- home address
- parents' home and work phone numbers, cell phone numbers, and email addresses.
Keep in mind that, if a player has more than one set of involved parents information for both parents needs to be listed. Since text messaging and email is the easiest and preferred method of communication these days, the TA should create a group text/email listing of all team members and use it regularly in communicating with all team members and their parents.
4. Pre-season meeting coordinator
The TA plans the pre-season meeting attended by at least one member from each family at which the coaching staff presents its goals and expectations for the upcoming season and answer questions about their coaching philosophy, and where the TA can discuss fundraising and financial matters. The TA should have each player and his or her parents fill out a Prospective Player/Parents Questionnaire during try-outs to obtain contact information and get a feel for the parents' expectations.
At the pre-season meeting, the TA or Team Mom distributes:
- Player/Parent Expectations Sheet. An information sheet to the parents of new players so they know what is expected of them as a part of their new team. The information sheet should include 1) Background on the team 2) Club/Player/Family expectations 3) Financial commitments 4) Basic coach contact info.
- Codes of Conduct: each team member and their parents (all involved parents) should be responsible for reading, understanding and signing a Code of Conduct the coaches, manager and TA have come up with to outline what is expected of the players and the parents. When they sign this document, it shows that they understand the rules. The TA should be responsible for holding on to these documents for future reference.
- "Hold harmless" waivers: This document is something a team might want to consider having on file for each player in case of injury.
5. File clerk
The team mom or TA should have a copy of each player's birth certificate on hand in case there is a discrepancy. Some of the larger tournaments require an officially-sealed birth certificate in order to register a team.
6. Fundraising Coordinator
Fundraising can be a large part of being on a team. Many teams travel or enter large tournaments where fundraising helps to offset the out-of-pocket costs for the parents. Teams can hold fundraising events such as a trivia night or an auction and/or they can solicit sponsorship from resources and businesses in the community. Many teams have banners made displaying the names and logos of their sponsors and hang them in the dugout (or wherever) during their games. This gives the sponsors visibility throughout the season.
7. Volunteer Coordinator
Team Administrators need to be able to delegate responsibilities to other parents. It is a big job being a TA and that person has to be able to ask other parents for help when and if needed, such as car pooling, bringing water/sports drinks to games, etc.
Having a team website is a great way to communicate to the team members and have a way for the players to take ownership of their team in another way. Photos, stats,schedules, phone numbers, website links, etc. can be posted for easy access.
9. Travel agent
Making travel arrangements is an important aspect of the team mom or TA's job. Researching the closest facility to the tournament fields, communicating to all the parents the booking requirements for each individual hotel, making sure each family has booked their rooms, keeping a master list of those booked and not booked and canceling the bookings in case there is a problem are all important responsibilities of the TA.
10. Team Pin Buyer
Some of the larger tournaments have a pin trading aspect. The idea is that each team creates a unique team pin (lapel pin) and each player is armed with enough team pins to trade with all the other teams in the tournament. Ideally, each player will come home from the tournament with pins from each opposing team. Not only does this create camaraderie amongst the teams, it is a fun way to meet the other teams' players and have a collection of souvenirs from the tournament. The TA organizes or delegates the job of designing the team pin, finding manufacturers, soliciting bids, and ordering pins. This is actually a fun but time consuming task and one best started months before the pins are needed so you are not rushing at the end and have the pins in plenty of time before the start of the tournament.
Adapted from the book, Home Team Advantage: The CriticalRole of Mothers in Youth Sports (HarperCollins 2006) by Brooke de Lench.
Updated and revised September 21, 2011