Little League – Volunteers
Aahhh Little League. Where anyone at any skill level can play. Where moms, dads, and older siblings are the coaches and the umpires. Where the same moms, dads, and coaches coach and umpire at the same time. Where the same moms and dads run the league and run the concessions, and attend the district meetings, and run registration, and deal with uniforms, and…, and…., and….
Now I am sure there are leagues out there that have plenty of volunteers and to that I say, “Good for you”. You see, around these parts there is a small league of less than 250 kids. WIth less kids, comes exponentionally less volunteers and seemingly more entitlement.
I was a part of the local Little League for 12 years and I ran it as President for 6 of them. Where I live we have both a Spring and a Fall season so that equates to running the league for 12 seasons. You can read more on running the league HERE!!! We were short volunteers every season. And every season there were parental complaints about there not being an umpire for Little Billy’s game or the concession not being open. I was at a game one day where the concessions wasn’t open and a parent came to me and asked me if it was going to open. I took out my keys to hand them to her and I said, “here, you can open it, that would be great”. She looked at me puzzled and then said, “nevemind” and just walked away. I could only shake my head.
Umpring is also done by volunteers. My older son was one of the senior umpires for the local Little League. When I first got him started, I had him bring out a small stack of powder blue shirts, still in the shrink rap, and place them on the field right next to the backstop where a lot of parents would sit to watch the game. I told him that if anyone gives him a hard time about a call, look at them while pointing the shirts and politely say, “we have plenty in your size”. He actually had to do that once and it got the parent to shut his face. There was another time when I was umping behind the plate, I had a parent the seemed to bark something at almost every pitch. (I’m sure it wasn’t, but it seemed like it.) At one point I had enough. I called time and walked out to where the guy was sitting and leaned on the bleachers right next to him. I then pointed to the pitcher and shouted, “Play” and just stood there. The loudmouth looked and me and asked me what I was doing. I looked back and said, “You can obviously see the zone better from here”. There was a chuckle from the bleachers, he just nodded and I went back to the normal position behind the plate. He didn’t open his trap for the rest of the game.
It was extremely annoying that people would complain about an umpire, the lack of concession, or they didn’t like the way someone coached, all from sitting behind the fence or via email. When those complaints came to me, my response was always the same, I pointed them to the sign up sheets.
Anyway, after some amount of time, I got a bit tired of the same few people doing everything in the league. I told the coaches that they are not to umpire their own games anymore, if there is no umpire they should cancel the game. If no one volunteers to run the concession, it stays closed. I also sent out an email to the entire league stating as such. This mostly worked, but the coaches would still do their own games when there was no umpire and I am was ok with it since I did not want the kids to not play.
If you are reading this and have complained about a volunteer coach, umpire, concession, a board member, or the way your league is being run in general, you have two choices; volunteer to help and better the situation for everyone, or keep your complaints to yourself. The ones that complain can often drive a way the few volunteers that there are and just make things worse. At least the one’s you are complaining about are trying.