3 New and Different Team Fundraising Activities (that Actually Work)

3 New and Different Team Fundraising Activities (that Actually Work)

Fundraising for team sports today is a necessary evil.  For 80% of teams, it’s the difference between a full season and a season cut short by budget limitations. The fundraising weapon of choice–peer-to-peer crowdfunding–can be hard to do unless you use the top assisted fundraising providers.  By searching “assisted fundraising,” or going to LeagueNetwork.com, you can find your way to an assisted fundraising resource.

But if you haven’t yet found a way to work assisted fundraising into your team or league activities, the good news is that fundraising doesn’t have to be the same old car washes and bake sales. Here are 3 group activities that might just fit the bill for your team or league.

 1. Hotdog Cookout

While you may be thinking that this is a little too much like a bake sale to be new and different, many sports leagues don’t take advantage of how much more valuable a hotdog cookout will be to their coffers.

The problems with bake sales and sports league are two-fold. One, sports is widely an outdoor activity, and it makes sense to hold your fundraising outdoors as well. Many sweets are iced or of a consistency that means it’s possible for them to melt, creating a mess (or becoming a health hazard).

Two, many people don’t associate eating sweets with sports. If you want to make steady money during a game, for instance, fans and family members aren’t likely to want to eat a cupcake while they’re watching. Instead, something like a hotdog can be more easily enjoyed. There’s a reason they’re a popular stadium staple, and that’s the kind of popularity you want in on when trying to raise money.

Of course, while sweets and hotdogs are popular kid staples, they might not be your first choice for health reasons). A yearly League Cookout – whether as a fundraiser or a gift to the community – is an excellent way for the families and volunteers to meet, and welcome new families. A huge community benefit!

 2. Pie the Coach

Coaches and athletes often have a playful, friendly bond, which is what makes this kind of fundraising so successful. Set up a raffle like fundraising event where all the athletes have a duty to raise funds. For every $5 they raise, they receive a raffle ticket. At the end of the fundraising period, shuffle through the raffle tickets and pick on. The child whose raffle ticket is picked gets to pie the face of their coach.

 3. Monthly Themed Socials

Communities are benefited by the presence of sports leagues, but it isn’t often that the community as a whole gets invited to interact with teams and athletes. Sometimes the simplest way to raise money is to boost awareness of the league itself within the community, as well as how youth sports impact the community as a whole.

Do this by throwing open-invite socials, and make it fun by including a theme. This can include food themes, monthly holiday themes or even themes that the athletes vote on themselves. Monetize tickets, food or both – but make sure that there is a call to action to donate involved.

The main way you’ll start to see more fundraiser cash come in is by inspiring others to donate. When someone feels like their money will be spent well and it’s going to something they believe will better the community, they’re more likely to give.

Don’t forget that League Network can help you raise money for tournament fees, equipment and general fund. Contact us!

4 Tricks to Manage a New School Schedule and Youth League Sports

4 Tricks to Manage a New School Schedule and Youth League Sports

Teens and kids have a tendency to be a little scattered. You may be familiar with overflowing backpacks, messy rooms and cluttered bathrooms – if their physical spaces look like this, it’s likely their mental spaces are similar.

If their school doesn’t provide them with one, get them a planner where they can start logging what they’re supposed to accomplish during the day, as well as any big events they have coming up. This helps get them used to routine and also helps them to keep track of tasks they have to complete.  How do you do this? Go to trick #2.

1. Keep things scheduled

As much as they may not like it, a child’s schedule should be very rigorously detailed if they want to keep their studies up and their sports performance level. This means knowing when games and practices are, then scheduling study time around them. It may happen that they have a day packed with studying and sports will little free time, but make sure they understand this is the commitment they made when they signed up to become an athlete. We have found that apps such as the Cozi family calendar (www.cozi.com) are helpful in giving everyone a sense of control.  Whether the schedule is on a mobile device or printed and taped to the refrigerator, the schedule will keep everyone informed about the priorities of the day.

 2. Use resources such as school-provided tutors when available.

Most schools have extra resources for student-athletes that are struggling – but using these resources, if available, is also an option for student athletes that want to make sure they’re keeping up in school. The best way to avoid falling behind is to stay ahead. It’s also possible to ask teachers if they have advice or extra study materials available to help student athletes keep up with classes.

 3. Speak up when things get tough.

Sometimes even with all the help in the world, a teen or child can become overwhelmed with everything they have going on. In that case, silence can be deadly. Unless it is addressed by bringing it out in to the open, prolonged stress can lead to mental damage and breakdowns – even if this seems like something minor to you, a teen that isn’t used to coping can feel majorly beat down by a packed schedule they can’t escape from. A younger child might not even be able to verbalize his or her uneasiness until it’s too late.

If this happens, the student in question has to be willing to talk about their stress. They should be able to come to their parent(s) or guardian(s) about this issue and work on a solution together. Make sure they understand that you are available to them if this ever ends up being the case. Allow them to always understand that being overwhelmed – or having to reconsider commitments – is not a sign of weakness, and not something you will be holding a grudge for.

3 Great New Ideas for Your Youth Sports Newsletter

3 Great New Ideas for Your Youth Sports Newsletter

Coaches and league members across the country send out newsletters to parents and athletes to keep them informed about youth sports news and schedules. Whether these newsletters go out on a monthly, bi-weekly or weekly basis, one problem that is commonly faced by the person writing the newsletter is what content to include within it.

There are some obvious choices, of course – game schedules, highlights of previous games and other calendar-related pieces of news (picture day, team meetings, etc.). However, this can make for a pretty sparse newsletter. A really strong newsletter doesn’t just recap what people already know. It gives them something extra; something valuable.

Padding out a youth sports newsletter can be tricky, though. The trick to it is filling it up with content that will appeal to the audience it is targeting, and in this case that is parents and/or athletes.

 1. Basic Content Suggestions

Think of a youth sports newsletter as something not so different from other subscription emails you get sent. The idea is the same, but the topic is different. Here are some basic ideas for helping to add a little bit more oomph to your own league’s newsletter:

●      Sports or youth sports related news pieces that will resonate with athletes and their family.

●      Highlights of the accomplishments of past or other youth sports leagues (“This youth sports league did something incredible – so can we!”)

●      Player spotlights that shine a light on excellent practice skills or in-game plays made by an athlete.

●      Photos of games and practices to showcase the hard work the players are doing.

●      Sports and health tips, like the right foods to eat before practice and how to stretch on off-days.

 2. Player Interviews

One way to promote player self-esteem and highlight positive examples within a team is to actually publish content that is personal. As a rule of thumb, the content within a team or a league’s newsletter can contain some generic information (health tips, news ads), but there should always be something there that makes the newsletter identifiable as a team’s specific newsletter. Identifying and rewarding players is one way to accomplish just that.

Make sure the reporting is balanced (i.e. not always the same team, or the same kids, age-group or gender…). There are few things as uplifting to a kid than to see themselves “in the news”.

3. Specific Stats

Youth sports players love being able to show off just how well they do in sports, but this is hard to do without tangible evidence. While they can recount the game to friends and family that didn’t attend, give them something a little extra to go along with their tale.

Print updated statistics of who scores how many goals, who has an improved time, how many goals a specific child prevented – something specific that they can look at and say “That’s me. I did that.” This helps boost team morale in two ways. The children who succeed will be proud of the attention they receive for their success, and other players will try their hardest to also get this recognition.

As with interviews, it can be tricky to highlight all kids, but when writing a game highlight, consider that all kids present at a game bring something, be it by cheering on their team – not everyone needs be recognized at once, but should be over several weeks of play.

 Editor’s note: League Network members can use our content to use in their own communications. Just credit us (“Credit: leaguenetwork.com”) and let us know!

Preparing Youth Athletes for the Win – or the Loss

Preparing Youth Athletes for the Win – or the Loss

Every parent dreams of their young athlete winning that big football championship or being the fastest swimmer at the meet. The medal around their neck, the trophy in their hands – not only do the adults fantasize about this amazing moment, children use these dreams of great success to motivate them to do better in the sports that they play.

At the same time, while Madonna immortalized the famous line “there’s no crying in baseball” in the movie “A League of Their Own,” youth league coaches understand that couldn’t be further from the truth. Children take loss very hard when it comes to sports. Usually, their thoughts revolve around two themes:  how the loss was their fault, and how disappointing they are to their team, their coach, or their parents. Less common, and more worrisome, is that a loss might let them feel disappointed in themselves – provided they have given their all in preparing and playing of course.

Sadly, in sports there is usually only one true champion, meaning there’s a devastating amount of broken hearts left on the field after a game. Win or lose, children and teens experience these emotions at an extremely high level, and sometimes this can do them more harm than good.

Winning – Reactions, Sportsmanship and the Right Way to Do Things

Coaches and parents push youth athletes to succeed, and the greatest payoff that exists is finally winning that grand title or trophy at the end of a sports season. However, it’s important that children understand how to win with grace, dignity and respect. Younger children can be especially unfiltered, and they don’t always understand the difference between being proud of themselves and gloating. Thankfully, this is the same age where disappointment often disappears as the field fades away in the rear view mirror.

All coaches should talk to their teams about the respectful way to win, and great leagues put practices in place that make way for sportsmanship. For instance, many youth leagues make opposing teams high-five, shake hands or perform spirit tunnels for each other at the end of the game. This promotes a more united atmosphere instead of a sometimes toxic “us versus them” mentality. Insisting that the kids – at all ages – shake hands and thank the referees also slows down celebratory brags, and underlines

Parents also have a responsibility to teach their children humility, as well as to not get cocky when they win. One win or title doesn’t ensure a lifetime of greatness and a youth athlete still needs to practice and stay prepared for future seasons. Without taking anything from the price their child should feel, winning parents can stress that all kids have prepared hard for the game, and show example by congratulating an opponent on the parking lot. A “Good game” goes a long way.

 Losing – Handling the Emotional Devastation

One truth that needs to be taught to youth athletes by both coaches and their parents is that there is more than one way to succeed in sports. A title isn’t everything – children who start a season and show improvement, even if they aren’t the best, are still pushing themselves and this is something that needs to be rewarded.

In extracurricular youth league sports, it’s a good idea to promote hard work over winning and competition domination. While it would be nice to be the best and win big, children aren’t always capable of this, and again – in a tournament of eight different teams, only one will take 1st place. This doesn’t mean the other seven are failures.

Coaches and parents alike need to talk to children beforehand about the possibility of a loss. A loss doesn’t mean that the world is coming to an end, but instead that they have the ability to practice, get better and do an even better job next season.

As a final word, remember that all adults have a responsibility to highlight great plays, good ideas and displays of sportsmanship on both teams when talking about the game, and being good hosts (or guests) with the opposing team.

The Olympics can be a Child’s Path to Athletic Greatness

The Olympics can be a Child’s Path to Athletic Greatness

The Rio 2016 Olympics have been a trending topic–mostly because media-drenched American athletes won more medals and commanded more air time than in any other Olympics in recent history. The Olympics come and go every two years (counting both winter and summer versions), and their inspiration goes beyond the time allotted in the medias. They inspire children far into the future.

When we watch the Olympics, we feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for our country when our athletes do well, but there’s also a more personal connection for many. Someone who swims has a deeper emotional investment in the swimming competitions, while a skier will be more excited about the winter games than the summer games. Children involved in sports also experience a kinship to the athletes representing their discipline. With the regular addition of sports in competition, more children have a chance to relate.

 Inspired by the Olympics

Seeing an Olympic athlete win and succeed, especially against the odds, is something that is inspiring to all of us. When the Olympics are taking place, many children around the world see how crowds cheer and react to the winners and want a taste of that glory for themselves. Thankfully, many current Olympians have been crediting playing and watching the games as youngsters for their own inspiration. And many have praised the support received from parents, extended families, coaches and communities. This, in our eyes, is a great eye opener for the kids, able to connect sport with community.

For children who are already athletes, or at least interested in becoming athletes, the Olympics can be a driving force in what pushes them to aspire to greatness. When a young swimmer thinks about Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympian and his swimming prowess, they can feel compelled to match that level of success – or even want to surpass it.

 The Olympics as a Positive Motivational Tool

Many children require motivation in order to work hard, and that requires a little bit of a push at times. Parents of sport children should take the time to sit down and watch the Olympics with their children, or show them videos of past Olympic greats. This shouldn’t be used as a pressuring tool, but as a positive example – i.e. this Olympian did something great, and you can do something great too. As with any game watching during the year, it is also a time of communion and showing interest for the child’s passion.

In this same vein, it’s also important to be realistic. Not everyone who dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete makes it to the famed athletics competition. This is okay – the main point is to use the Olympics as a positive motivation tool, not a steadfast goal that must be accomplished in order to be successful.

Many successful athletes don’t make it to the Olympics, and that’s okay. Children can be inspired by greatness and not reach that caliber – but remind them that because they were so inspired, they tried hard and stuck to practicing and training in order to get better. Remind them that Olympic competitors worked hard consistently, for years, to earn their spot, and that many worked as hard – but fell short of the qualification – and should also be celebrated. This is an opportunity to show your children that you appreciate their drive, and support their journey, no matter where it leads.

The Olympics can be what inspires a child to discover sports, and with that can come a lifelong passion for something they love. We applaud anything that drives children to be more active and disciplined, happier and healthier – whether they win Gold, or not.