Just about every soccer league in the area kicks off tomorrow, much to the excitement of half a million boys and girls and their parents. And, after many blog posts of various musings and rants, here is a return to practical advice.
The Manager is most easily identified as "the one carrying the binder". 3-Ring binders work fine but I recommend indulging your inner middle-schooler and picking up something that zips to close and has some pockets, dividers, etc. Spend a little bit more so you get one with a decent zipper too. The Binder will be passed around, be tossed in your trunk, wind up on wet grass 90% of the time and has to survive.
When you buy The Binder, think also about plastic sleeves and card holders.
Stuff that goes in The Binder
Aside from the roster, player cards, medical forms and player forms, it doesn't hurt to add: a copy of the schedule, a copy of the league rules, and a list of phone numbers. Always make sure to have a couple of pens (skimp here however, as these pens walk away faster than any I've ever seen!) and include a business card so if it gets lost, it gets back to you.
A quick look shows me that Other Stuff has made it to the pockets of my binder over time: sunscreen, band aids, hair bands, stickers, earrings and other jewerly, athletic tape, team patches, birthday candles, paper clips, and about a pound of that synthetic dirt stuff from the Soccerplex. So...perhaps some zip lock bags are a good idea too.
The team should budget for this. If you can swing it, get the lightest and easiest-to-set-up one that you can. I use an Instabench Mesh 6-seater. It is comparatively light, a piece of cake to set up and keeps the butts cool. Don't bother with a bench with backs to the seat. Bonus if you can get one in your team's colors. Remember - you'll be carrying this most of the time. Think comfort and ease of use.
While just about every family has one of those pop-up shelters, I found them to be heavy, a pain to setup and move (needing four people) and so poorly made as to be almost single-use. Putting one up in rain or trying to quickly take one down at a tournament is a disaster and they are guaranteed to bend or lose parts. In anything other than direct sun at noon or a rain that falls straight down, they are useless. If you do buy one, SportsAuthority and other places often offer a extra warranty for $10 - get the warranty as you will need it. The manufacturer's warranty won't over it.
There are variety of other shelters but the one we now use after going through about half-dozen of the ones I lambast above, is the Premiere Sports Shelter. It ain't cheap at around $380 including shipping but it is a miracle - designed by a dad/soccer manager in Washington State who figured there had to be something better. I saw another team use it in the rain at the Cherry Blossom Classic last spring while we struggled to set up another terrible tent and had instant Manager Envy.
Light enough to carry and sets up in 5 minutes with one person. The kids love it. Be careful to stake it down lest it fly away and follow the set up instructions. My one gripe is that it won't fit in my small car so I always have to take the mini-van. However, you can call the inventor directly and chat with him about your own suggested modifications.
Bonus: The Roster Card
A parent recommended this to me a couple of seasons ago so I can't take full credit but create a small card that has player names, jersey numbers, parents first names and phone numbers that you can laminate and hand out to all of the parents to put in their car. Other than The Shelter, this may be the thing parents like most. New familes have a quick reference card for players and everyone can quickly contact someone else if they are driving to St. Mary's county, for instance and can't quite find the field. Tip: put your info and the coaches' info in bold on both sides! Don't forget to laminate - it makes you look like you know what you are doing.
A First Aid Kit is a given, but make sure the coach has one. Over time, you'll collect various other tidbits. I have someone's old jacket, shin guards, socks, etc. but they usually come in handy. If you can, grab an extra pinnie from the coach to have on hand when the goalkeeper jersey isn't different enough or it is just too hot.
Feel free to post if you have other must-haves or stories!
Duct tape, perhaps?