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Six beach soccer games in two days, second-place medals, exhausted but happy girls, and everything but the weather went as planned (some things team managers can’t control) at the first tournament of the summer. While coordinating a dozen or more families for a tournament is a huge undertaking, I think the team bonding that occurs at these tournaments is more than worth the effort.
What does it take to pull together a great tournament weekend? Most of all, it takes a supportive group of parents who all chip in and help you out. As a team manager, you’re used to coordinating logistics, but tournaments simply involve too many moving parts for you to be the ‘Lone Ranger’. You need to focus on the players—getting them checked in for the tournament, making sure all the documents are in order—not lodging and food.
Right off the bat, you should assign someone to research and designate a team hotel and reserve a block of rooms. I usually try to find reasonably priced accommodations close to the fields, with an exercise facility for the parents, an indoor pool and hot tub (for after the games only!), and free Wi-Fi (gotta stay connected…). Often, the tournament has a short list of hotels, so you just need to narrow it down from there. And it helps if everyone stays in the same hotel to keep track of players, coordinate rides, and the like.
Next, assign someone to handle the big meals. Typically, for a weekend tournament, you’ll have Saturday lunch, Saturday night dinner, and Sunday lunch. Because you’ll likely be at the fields for lunch, the location determines your plan. Baseball tournaments are often held at all-inclusive complexes, with a full restaurant and even an outdoor grilling station. It’s easy to keep the kids nourished at these tournaments (but watch out for the sugared sodas and sports drinks!). At other sports tournaments, you’ll want to organize potluck lunches. The easiest way to do that is to have everyone sign up on the Refreshments tab of your TeamSnap page. You can track that you have enough food—and that it’s healthy and nutritious.
Team dinners are often the most fun for everyone—and the most bonding. If there’s a kid-friendly restaurant nearby, you can make a reservation for your group and enjoy a meal together away from the pressures of the games. Alternatively, if your hotel can accommodate your group, you can have a take-out meal delivered and everyone can relax at the hotel, go for a swim, and socialize.
One final note about food (learned the hard way): plan for more food than you think you’ll need, especially fruit and veggies. If your team keeps winning, you’ll be at the fields longer than expected and the players will be playing back-to-back games, without any time in between to eat. If you have plenty of fruit, healthy snacks, and water, you’ll be able to keep the players energized and hydrated for those extra – and welcome – games! This is also the time when sports drinks are appropriate. After playing three or four games in a row, players can benefit from the electrolytes, especially in summer’s hot weather.
Emily is a freelance writer living in Berkeley, California. Emily brings a lot of first-hand experience to the table having been team manager for her children’s soccer, baseball, basketball, and softball teams and she also captains a number of her own adult tennis teams.