A commenter last week requested a bit of insight regarding what a manager can expect once the season begins. Over the past four years, I have always found the actual season to be easier than the offseason, at least once you are rolling.
During the season, the manager's role goes back to making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time wearing the right uniform. For this purpose, I make rather extensive use of the calendar function of our team's Yahoo! Group, especially the set-it-and-forget-it aspect of the autoreminders. I generally set reminders for 3-days and 1-day before and encourage the parents to READ both reminders as it is often possible that information can change.
On Tuesday or Wednesday of each week, I'll contact the other team's manager and figure out jersey color and any little tidbits of information that can make it easier for the other team or our team. For example, asking about or sharing information about directions. bathrooms, restaurants, traffic cameras, parking, and hidden shortcuts are encouraged. I try to keep laundry in mind for two game weekends. As I have mentioned a few times, this area is a huge soccer community but also one that is surprisingly small. You will run into the same managers and coaches year after year so it pays to be nice and to be helpful. They will respond in kind! Like you, the managers are volunteers.
Any useful information I get, I'll paste into the calendar notes. While this may be a bit “above and beyond,” I will also paste in the address of the field and if it is a new location, the directions from the WAGS site. I'll try to estimate the traveling distance and let everyone what time to be there. While some will argue that the parents should be able to figure this out their own, I have found it better to provide too much information and get them there on time than to be on a cell phone in an unfamiliar area trying to vocally lead someone to the field.
There is some paperwork to get done for each game. Shortly before the season starts you'll receive a packet of forms with a game card for each home game. For each home game, fill this out. Seasoned managers know that the trick is to get the Avery-brand labels and print out rosters so that you can just stick this on at the field. At the field, find the other manager. If you haven't shared what you look like, it usually not too difficult to find the other person carrying a binder and looking like they are herding cats. Exchange stickers, sign the cards. Find the head ref and give them them card. When ready, the ref will want to check the player cards with the girls faces (usually by having you call the names) and will want a game ball from you if you are the home team. Finally, after the game, you'll need to report the score to the WAGS site and get some TSL feedback to rate the other team. That's it! After your first game, you'll be a pro.
There are some other aspects that you can do or delegate: team tent, team bench, water, etc. I'll leave that up to you. (I delegate out to another parent the whole “Halftime Oranges” and “Post-game snack” responsibility. There are different schools of thought on these – at the younger ages these are often more important than the game and, during halftime, oranges can be a distraction. We even went so far as to mandate that parents put a few slices individual bags so that passing around oranges wasn't a disruption when the coach was trying to talk. Believe it or not, it worked wonders. Now that the team is older, they are able to stay more focused. Essentially, one team parents alphabetically assigns all this and once assigned parents can trade dates on their own. If someone forgets, oh well. Keep the little things little).
At times during the season you will need to be an accountant, psychiatrist, confidant, liaison, advocate, voice of reason, stick-in-the-mud, and facilitator. Just roll with it. In a few short months, it'll be Thanksgiving and at least six weeks of managerial time off.
IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT!!!! You are the manager, not the coach. Make sure the parents know this and are constantly reminded. Your response to any questions about positions, playing time, or other game-related activities should be “Please have your son/daughter talk to the coach”. People will think you have more knowledge than you (usually) do. At times, I have relayed to the coach that a player wants to talk to her but it shouldn't go further than that. Being in the middle is dangerous situation.
As I mentioned, the actual season is more fun than the offseason. Enjoy the kids playing and try not to get too caught up in the results.
Got any other tips? Be sure to share in the comments.