Recruiting Volunteers for Youth Sports Programs: 4 Tips

Your club’s volunteers are essential to keeping your youth sports programs running smoothly. They’re the coaches, assistants, and other cheerleaders that create a positive experience for the young athletes in your community, helping kids develop lifelong skills and friendships. 

But as a park and recreation professional, it can be challenging to recruit enough qualified volunteers to help out. You must find individuals who not only want to support your programs but also have enough free time in their schedules to actually do so. 

In this post, we’ll highlight four effective tips for recruiting volunteers for your youth sports programs: 

  1. Reach out to a wide range of audiences. 
  2. Use a multichannel approach. 
  3. Share the benefits of participation. 
  4. Set volunteers up for success.

Effective volunteer recruitment starts with connecting with the right people using the right message. What does that look like in reality? Read on to learn more!

1. Reach out to a wide range of audiences. 

The first people you probably turn to recruit volunteers for your youth sports programs are the athletes’ parents and guardians. But as you know, these individuals are often busy and may not always be looking to take on the responsibility that comes with volunteering. 

Therefore, make sure your recruitment strategy is wide-ranging and inclusive to give parents a break and ensure you aren’t overlooking any enthusiastic potential volunteers. Target your recruiting efforts to reach: 

  • Past volunteers: This includes past coaches, assistants, concession workers, referees, and other supporters who might have let their involvement lapse. You never know who might be interested in coming back!
  • Former youth sports program participants: Depending on how long your program has operated, you might have program alumni who are willing to contribute their time to create a great experience for this generation’s athletes.
  • High school or college student volunteers: High school and college students are often looking for ways to get involved in the community to earn service hours. Volunteering in a youth sports program can be a fun way to earn these hours. 

While these individuals might be a highly receptive audience for your recruitment efforts, don’t leave parent/guardian recruitment out of the picture entirely! Caregivers are often excited to engage in their child’s sports journey, making them a perennially helpful audience to turn to.

2. Use a multichannel approach. 

You won’t be able to reach all prospective volunteers by marketing your opportunities on just one platform. Take a multichannel approach and pursue a variety of recruitment platforms, including: 

  • In-person: Recruit ahead for next season by talking with attendees at games and practices. 
  • Traditional advertising: Post recruitment ads in your local newspaper, create flyers to hang in popular areas such as your local library or create direct mail postcards to send to prospective volunteers. 
  • Online marketing: Use your social media pages and email newsletters to spread the word about open positions. 

Use each platform to reinforce your message, boosting the chances that your target audience members will see and engage with your outreach content. 

3. Share the benefits of participation. 

Although they won’t be getting paid, that doesn’t mean your sports program volunteers won’t receive anything from their volunteer efforts. Your recruitment marketing materials should highlight volunteering benefits, including opportunities to: 

  • Help youth members of the community thrive in a constructive environment.
  • Fulfill volunteer hour requirements for a club or class. 
  • Get to know more people in the community.
  • Access any special volunteer perks you offer, such as free concessions or appreciation gifts.
  • Potentially be able to contribute a monetary donation to your organization via a volunteer grant

These benefits might provide the motivation some individuals need to not only get involved but also stay involved in your program for years to come. 

4. Set volunteers up for success.

Your program’s volunteers won’t want to head into a new sports season feeling unprepared, especially your new volunteers who are participating for the first time. Ensure your recruitment materials describe the type of support volunteers will receive before the season starts, including: 

  • Training: Offer a thorough pre-season training session for new coaches and assistants. 
  • Equipment/supplies: Provide volunteers with training equipment, such as cones, pinnies for scrimmages, goals, whistles, clipboards, etc. 
  • Participant waivers: Offer an online waiver system for participants’ guardians to sign digitally, taking the stress of getting waivers signed off your volunteers’ shoulders. 

Be responsive to questions early on in the recruitment process. Also, once volunteers sign up, use your volunteer management software to offer them a streamlined scheduling process that makes it easier to know where to be and when to be there. 

Enthusiastic, empowered volunteers can make all the difference when it comes to running your youth sports program. Be sure to reach out to a diverse group of potential volunteers and equip them with the proper resources to succeed. 

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Preparing for a New Season- The Official GotSport Guide

GotSport is a tool used all across the country to get teams carded and ready for another year of competition. GotSport is an essential tool in the mixed bag of running a sports organization. But, this tool becomes more complicated when you’re using an external registration platform. Whether a new club admin or volunteer or a season GotSport Vet; sometimes you run into problems and need a refresher. At Sports Office 365, we know how daunting GotSport can be at times. We’re helping out clubs by sharing the official GotSport article to help prepare you for a new season in GotSport! In the section below, you’ll find helpful tips, tricks, and direct links to GotSport articles.

Steps to Prepare for Season Transition if Using a Non-GotSport System for Registration

21/22 to 22/23 Transition FAQ: 

Will I have to create new teams? No, you can register your same existing teams to your league and adjust your rosters accordingly. 

What can I expect if I am uploading players to the system? 

You should have three different types of scenarios. Here is an FAQ for each scenario: 

Scenario One –  Players that played in my club last season: 

  •  As long as Affiliation, First Name, Last Name, DOB (with correct date format in the file), parent name, and email are the same; any other information will just update. 
  •  You may end up with a duplicate player profile in your player list if your file has a different name, gender, or DOB than the player that is already in your club’s player list in the system. If for some reason the data does not match, you can update the player profiles to match your spreadsheet or update your spreadsheet to match the player profile and reupload. 

Scenario Two –  Players that are brand new to the GotSport system: 

  • These players should upload and accounts will be created as long as you have the required columns in your file. 

Scenario Three – Players that are currently in the GotSport system, but played for a different organization last season: 

  • Data from the GotSport system matches your spreadsheet (Affiliation, First Name, Last Name, DOB, Gender). This will create a role for that player in your club, and you should see them in your Club Management Players list. 
  • If a parent does not get added to the player, it is because the parent email already exists in the system to someone else. 

What can I expect when adding coaches or managers to my club? 

You should have three different scenarios when adding coaches or managers to your club. Here is an FAQ for each scenario. 

Scenario One – Coaches/Managers who have a GotSport account already: 

  • If you are uploading, As long as the First Name, Last Name, and Email in your file match what is on their existing account, the coach/manager will be added to your club. 
  • If you are manually searching/adding these coaches and managers, and their First Name, Last Name, and Email matches the information you are searching for, you will be prompted to send a Role Request Approval email. If you search the additional optional information (Date of Birth, and Zip Code) you can bypass the email request and add them directly. 
  • If you have all the required information, you can bypass the email request by adding them directly to a team. This will give them the coach or manager role in your club. To do this, go to Club Management – Teams – Click on a team – Click Roster – Click coach or manager – search by First Name, Last Name, and email. 

Scenario Two – Coach or Manager does not have a GotSport Account: 

  • An account will get created for them via the upload or you will create the account for them if added manually. 

Scenario Three: The addition of a coach or manager fails because the email/user ID is already taken. 

  • This means there is an account in the system that already has the email that you are trying to add them with and the account does not match the first or last name. 
  • You can try to search for different variations of their name (Ex. Mat, Matt, or Matthew). 
  • Check your player’s list for that email. Make sure the player’s email is set in the contact email and try again. 
  • Add the coach/manager with a different email/userid and attach the email you have in their “contact email” box. 

Logging In and Adding Admins  

Account Login: See how to create and login to your GotSport User Account 

Create Club Administrators:  Adding Administrators 

Adding/Editing user title: Add a Title To A Club User 

  • This is a new requirement for all Admin users from last season

Editing an Admins Permissions: Editing an Admins Permissions 

  • Important when separating tasks/what is available in your User’s admin accounts if you would like to limit permissions/access.

Locating Required Governing Body Forms: Locating Required Governing Body Forms 

  • Any form made available for you from your governing organizations. For example Affiliation/Transfer Forms

General Club Management 

Players/Coaches/Managers 

Archive Players previous year players

Uploading players to your club- Note that if you do not include a competitive level or affiliation, you will not see your players initially after you upload and will need to adjust the filters on your player list for them to appear.

Any previously archived players that were uploaded will return to the active player list as long as their uploaded information matches the existing player profile that was archived.

Manually Creating a Player 

  • If you are manually creating players, use the existing player information and login from the previous season to avoid creating unnecessary duplicates
  • Search the player’s DOB, First Name, and Last Name to see if an account exists.  If yes, then add in the email and postal code to bypass the role approval process and directly add the player.
  • If a player does not appear when searching with additional fields (email, postal code), then the email or postal code data that was searched does not match what is listed on the player’s account.

Adding a Player Photo 

  • The player photo from the previous season will appear on the profile by default.  If it needs to be updated, follow the steps in the link above to add a new one while removing the old one.

Add Documents to a Player 

  • If needed for any reason, proof of birth document can be added to a player with the steps above.

Coaches 

Archive Coaches

Coach Upload 

Creating Coaches 

Managers 

Archive Managers

Manager Upload 

Creating Managers 

Duplicate Coach, Manager, and Player User Check – If duplicate player/coach/manager accounts have been created unintentionally, these can be merged as long as the first name, last name, gender and DOB match on both profiles 

Teams  

Archive Teams (If wish to)

Resetting the team player list

Creating a Team Account– When creating a team, set the team age to what the team age is the time of creation, not the next seasonal year’s age.

Team Lock

Roster Lock

Hiding Player List

Team ages do not need to be changed manually.  When the new season begins on August 1, all team ages will update automatically in the system.  If a team age is manually changed, the system will then have the team “age up” again on August 1 and the age will be incorrect.

If Team Rosters are the same from the previous season with minor changes

Team Rosters Starting from Scratch – 

DO NOT CLONE AT ALL – Players From the Previous Season will be removed during the next steps

When you’ve completed building your teams, sync your team rosters – When you sync your rosters, any players that are not on any current or upcoming event roster will automatically be removed from the team.

Printing off Official Rosters and Player Passes

Click here for the full article on the GotSport website

Feeling overwhelmed by GotSport? Reach out to us today for assistance! We are industry experts in GotsSport and in getting your club carded and ready for another season.

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Valuing Volunteers

With the exception of 2020, which wiped out youth sports, one of my favorite moments each year is reviewing the final applications from the NAYS volunteer coach- and parent-of-the-year nominations. Applications come in from around the world from member organizations on almost every U.S. military installation that organizes youth sports.

Recognizing volunteers has always been one of the top priorities of youth-sports administrators. It is always on top of the list when we survey members about the best ways to attract more volunteers to programs. I don’t know of a better way to recognize volunteers than with awards that shine a spotlight on all the hard work and effort they put into programs in their communities.

Reading about the moms and dads who spend hours before, during, and even after a season concludes is truly inspiring. I think about the military mom who won the Parent of the Year award a couple years back. A number of her children were enrolled in sports, and she took on the responsibility of coaching because many of the other parents were active duty and could not dedicate the time. The fact that she not only coached her own team of 7- and 8- year-olds, but also acted as a team mom for another team because of a lack of parents available, made her an easy selection. I think of a Coach of the Year recipient from a number of years ago who had contracted a flesh-eating virus, lost both of his hands and legs, and still returned to coach kids in a basketball league. And he’s still coaching today.

I also think of my own coaches and team moms from many years ago. Instead of going home from work, these hard-working men and women volunteered their time to work on drills with me and my teammates, and then would sit in the parking lot until dark discussing game strategy and line-ups. I didn’t appreciate it back then, but I sure do now.

These are the people who truly make youth sports operate. Just think about that for a second. If we had to pay these individuals for their true value, consider how much youth-sports participation would cost in this country. You really don’t have to wonder; just look to the school system and see what it costs to have qualified, caring individuals in charge of our children’s education. It truly is astounding when you think about it.

What’s even more astounding is not every organization we work with actually takes the time to participate in the award program. Of course, there is only one winner for each category nationally, but that doesn’t limit the impact that can be made locally. One doesn’t need a national award to make an impact. We encourage all organizations to give multiple awards during the season. A weekly or even a mid-season event, where volunteers can be nominated and recognized, can have a tremendous impact on a program and show volunteers they are valued and appreciated for their efforts. Plus, if recreation leaders are going to submit a nomination for an annual award or a national award, they have already done all the work.

We have always stressed to administrators that volunteers should be regarded as employees. Part of that process is screening to ensure you have only the best people with the best intentions; monitoring and recognizing those individuals is the best way to ensure volunteers will be willing to show up when the next season rolls around. Plus, what better way is there to inspire the next wave of parents who will be joining the program?

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Capitals Rundown- 3 Game Series

The Washington Capitals were heading into their series with the Florida Panthers as the biggest underdogs next to the Nashville Predators. Nobody really thought the Caps could get out of this series, some didn’t even see the Caps getting a win. Despite only seeing about a minute of game time from Tom Wilson this series as well as a goaltending change, the Capitals have the series tied at 2-2 going back to the Sunshine State.

How can the Capitals close this series?

A series tied 2-2 with the President’s Trophy-winning Panthers is nothing short of incredible. On paper, the Panthers are very reminiscent of the Capitals of yesteryear. A painfully strong, young core. Veteran Leadership, star-studded goaltending, and very fast, physical play. The Caps have managed to handle that pretty well, despite being one of the oldest teams in the league.

Perhaps one of the biggest points of success the Capitals are finding is by playing some of their best defense all year. Going into the series, Coach Peter Laviolette knew how to weather that dangerous Florida attack. By sitting back and sitting in a 1-3-1 defensive shape, the Caps are limiting clean zone entries and causing turnovers in the neutral zone. Along with strong, even strength play, the Cap’s penalty kill remains perfect among one of the deadliest power plays in the league this year.

To continue giving themselves a chance, the Cap’s are going to need to continue to be strong in a few areas:

  • Physical Play- Even without Tom Wilson, the Caps have matched the intense and forbearing physical play by the Panthers. If they allow them to begin to dictate physicality, the Caps are going to slip down a slope they don’t want to go down.
  • Solid Goaltending- Ilya Samsonov relieved Vitek Vanecek of his duties after the 5-1 loss in game 2. Since then, Samsonov has been playing his most consistent hockey of the year and seems to be playing with a lot of confidence.
  • Continue to limit the rush- The Caps Blue Liners have done outstanding to limit odd-man rushes this series so far. If they slip up on that front or start getting caught up too much, the Panthers will attack with pace and punish them.
  • Finish the chances- there have been several times throughout this series now, either through lack of focus or bad luck, that the Caps have missed fantastic, high danger chances. If they can bury goals on Bobrovsky, they’ll continue to run away with it.
  • Stay Calm and Focused- Perhaps the biggest point here is to just keep playing Capitals Hockey. It’s a 2-2 series and the Capitals have shown they have all the power to knock out Florida. Game 4’s Overtime loss could have been avoided, but it’s happened and now they need to move on. Everyone on that roster knows their talents and if they remain calm and confident, they can knock out the Cats.

The Capitals are heading back to Miami to face the Panthers in what’s sure to be a loud game 5 away from home. If the Capitals can steal a win in this next game, they set themselves up in a fantastic position to close out on home ice.

Our Game 5 Predictions:

Jamie- 4-2 Capitals Victory

Zac- 3-2 Capitals Victory

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The importance of budgeting and managing finances in youth-sports programs

All league administrators should have a budget in place before taking a single registration. The budget should estimate revenue and expenses and separate them as individual line items. Estimate revenue low and expenses high in order to provide for some margin of error. Once the budget is set, keep the spending within the budget unless there is additional revenue that might justify additional spending.

A budget serves as all of the following:

  • Operations guide: A budget will dictate how to operate a league based on anticipated revenue and expenses. It will explain how the organization is divided by roles and how they operate.
  • Financial plan: Sound budgeting will keep finances in order and identify any areas where you can fine-tune spending or save money. It should show sources of revenue and allocated expenses.
  • Communications device: A budget provides an understanding for others in a league or the overall organization as to the forecasted revenue and the plan to allocate funds for expenses. It helps stakeholders understand why only certain funds are used for certain expenses.

The purpose of a budget is to allocate resources to achieve financial goals and objectives. If a league or organization is large enough to be separated into departments, each department will have its own budget with the total contributions to the organization’s annual operating budget. A budget should be divided into line items that reflect every aspect of an operation:

  • Staffing and referees
  • Rent/lease/ownership expenses
  • Operating supplies
  • Jerseys and uniforms
  • Equipment
  • Awards
  • Concessions
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Marketing/promotion
  • Background screening
  • Facility improvements
  • Training
  • Insurance.

Budget categories are based on the league’s operation and should be flexible and monitored regularly. Here are five ways to manage a budget and finances:

Breakeven: Find the breakeven point to determine how much revenue you have to bring in to sustain the league. If the only source of revenue is participant registrations, then simply figure out how many participants are needed to run the program. If you have significant revenue in sponsorships, concession sales, etc., include that so you are not dependent on participation alone.

Cost recovery: Similar to the breakeven, cost recovery goes one step further and shows exactly how the total expenses were recovered, based on the revenue brought in. To determine cost recovery, separate all revenue and all expenses. Then divide the total revenue by the total expenses. Hundred-percent cost recovery means you broke even. Anything higher than that means the league made money. Anything less means it lost money and will need to subsidize losses with additional revenue sources.

Expense tracker: Track every league expense to the penny. It can be as simple as entering items onto a spreadsheet. This will help keep track of all funds and ensure you stay within the budget. If you control the league’s bank account, you can reconcile expenses to the account. Tracking expenses will also force you to fine-tune spending and identify places to save money when needed.

Cash-handling: Anytime you are taking in cash, or managing any finances for that matter, more than one person should be involved for accountability and for checks and balances. Decide who is allowed to take cash, determine how it is to be counted, and decide where it goes. If possible, consider going “cash free,” or work toward it.

Contingency: Contingency is more for those who have complete control over league funds, such as a non-profit Little League or Pop Warner team. A larger organization, such as a government agency or larger YMCA association, generally will not have control of this at the league level as they have their own finance departments. If yours is a smaller operation, always have some type of contingency or savings fund. Take a small portion of each registration and put it in a contingency. If things go south or there’s an unexpected expense, it can be handled without being detrimental to the program. As this fund increases, you can also use it for items like scholarships or capital improvements.

All youth sports programs, regardless of the size of the organization, should have some level of budgeting and financial management. Having a plan to manage finances will ensure you can run a viable program.

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