One of the best things about kids being on a team is seeing them start as a bunch of individuals and seeing them build friendships throughout the season and really come together as a team. Kids make friends so easily when they share common interests. A little help from coaches and parents can go a long way in helping this process along. A team that plays together stays together. In this post I’d like to share some of the things that my son’s baseball team did to turn individual boys into friends.
Making New Friends
Parents talking at practice/parties – Parents and kids are both required to dedicate themselves to the team. Kids are required to be at every practice and game (commitment is for 7 days a week). The fact that every family supports the kids is a wonderful example of how we as parents are committed to the team and shows the kids that they should also be as dedicated. One of the biggest examples of this is the fact that many parents actually bring their kids to practice and stay for the 2+ hours watching every practice. Many friendships among the parents begin during these practice times.
Team Van – Our team mom was able to secure a 15 passenger van that she decorated with the kid’s names & jersey numbers as well as ‘Berlin All Stars’ (we live in Berlin, CT). We meet at our home field before every game and all the kids piled into the van to ride together. The kids love to get to travel together and it showed a real team presence as we drove up to the field in a decorated van. The coach would give the kids a pep talk while they were in the van before we left our home field and revved the kids up for the ride.
Team Song – Each year the kids come up with a popular song that they all sing in the van on the way to the games. Last year the ‘team song’ was “Call me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. The kids had the best time with this song because this was a song that the Harvard baseball team had made up some arm movements to go with the song. Each day, the kids would sing and ‘dance’ in their seats on the way to every game. Our kids had the best time with this song!
Equipment Truck – As a simple form of team unity, my husband would pile all of the kid’s baseball bags and the team equipment in the back of his pickup truck and follow the team van to get to the games. The kids would pile out of the van and go over to the equipment truck to get their gear. This is something that didn’t go unnoticed by the other teams…
Caravan to the games for parents that could travel early – In addition to the Team Van and the Equipment Truck, we have a Caravan of parents that drive behind these vehicles to get to the games. This shows part of our families’ commitment to the team because we travel to games together at least 2 hours before game time. Many parents need to leave work very early (like taking a ½ vacation day) to travel to every weekday game.
“Fan Shirts” – One of the best ways to show team unity is for the fans to show their team spirit with team shirts. Last year the mom’s on our team got matching All Star tank tops when our kids won the District championship. We wore these tanks at every game while the team played on in the next round of play. The funny thing is, the dads were far too superstitious to wear fan shirts. They had to wear same shirt they had been wearing and even had to stand in same order next to each other at fence as long as kids were winning…) This year we ordered fan shirts before the season started with their kids name and number on the back so now our dad’s can wear the same clothes AND show their team spirit!
Going out to dinner – One of the easiest ways for team building was the picking a local restaurant and a bunch of families go to dinner after the games. Since we would meet so early before the games, everyone would be starving by the time the game ended. Since there would be so many of us, we would generally get seated at multiple tables. The kids would all sit together and the parents would sit nearby. This gave the kids time to decompress and relive the game and the parents would have the same opportunity to relax and have some fun.
Practice dinners – Because of the time commitment of practices every day with practices ending after 7:30 pm, we have been organizing dinners after practices. Each night, one family organizes a dinner to bring to the field so the families can eat dinner right after practice. What a huge help it is to not have to start making a dinner after 8:00pm!
Pool parties / Lake House party – Summer means hot weather, and summer fun. Weekend games are often followed up by a family offering to have the families back to their house for a pool party. These parties are often kept simple by ordering pizzas – allowing the kids to relax and be kids in a pool. The adults can hang out and talk while enjoying a few drinks.
Sharing Memories – One of the easiest ways to capture the memories is to share pictures with the team families on a shared website. I have used Shutterfly for years and have set up a free ‘Share Site’ for many of the teams my son has been on through the years (this is also great to do if you are a room parent for your child’s elementary school class – lots of nice features for a classroom). At the end of the season you can easily pull together a commemorative book for families to buy, or to give as coaches gifts.
What are some of your favorite ways to bring a team together? Share them with us by commenting on this post.
Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of www.BaptismalGownsPlus.com
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