Running a club team, I have found, really needs to be run like a small business. You'll find out very quickly that it often is the little things that count. What's important also is the need to simply have fun and enjoy doing it. I will attempt to relay some experiences I have had over the years in an effort to help make your life easier. First, I'd like to share some basic theorems: 1) KEEP THINGS SIMPLE: We all have lots of things to do in life. Its very important to understand that the simpler you keep things, the easier it is to accomplish them. 2) KEEP THINGS CONSISTENT: Eliminate any and all question marks regarding all aspects of your club. When things are in question, a certain number of people you MIGHT be counting on will actually be having second thoughts. Build consistency into your program as to name, field, colors, etc. In this way your players will know what to expect from year to year, and this consistency will have a tremendous impact on your teams' professional image. 3) KEEP THINGS FUN: If you're not in this to have fun, why are you here? 4) TAKE PRIDE IN HOW WELL YOUR CLUB IS RUN: As I said before, when we started Metro in 1989 it was our goal to be the best-run club team in the SWLA, even if we weren't the best on the field. That is something that a team can accomplish right away.
Nothing tells an opponent more about your club than how you set up your field. With that said, I know that none of us have control over the weather. Ina ddition, bad fields are a tradition in club lacrosse. It's what you do with your field that counts. 1) LOCATION OF FIELD: Its important to have a location that is easy to find and get to, but I understand how hard it is to find ANY field in some locations. I have seen some teams waste months trying to obtain the best, most immaculate field in town, hoping to make a big "splash". When their efforts have come up short, very little time is left to find a back-up. Plus, even if they found the "Holy Grail" of lacrosse fields, my experience is that their toe-hold on such a field is tenuous at best. Personally, I have found it much easier to establish a good working relationship with a nice, accessible place that I can count on at all times. It doesn't have to have a playing surface like Reliant Stadium. It simply needs to be there when I need it. Over a period of years, a feeling of having a home field advantage eventually takes root. Find such a place- a middle school for instance. Offer to do something for them in return. Help get a team started at their school. There's lots of things. But get it nailed doen as soon as you can. FIELD PREP: Like I said before, how you prep a field is the very first impression you make on a team. I can say without a doubt that NOBODY can put a field down PERFECTLY and as quickly as the New Orleans team can. That tells me they know the game and they know what they are doing. It engenders respect. While nobody is perfect, of course, if I see a field that is excessively sloppy and done haphazardly, It tells me they put little or no time into it. I can also guess that they've put little or no time into other things as well. If they don't care about the details with their field, it probably means that other details have been let go as well. Any beginning team can put together an excellent field. In fact, some of the better-lined fields I have seen have been done by beginning/novice teams. CUTTING: This is something you have to be on top of. We can all get behind on this. The key is to actually care about the length of your grass. Many times I have trudged a mower onto a field to make sure its a decent length. Remember- your home field is your team's home. Take care of it and it will take care of you.
Nobody has to do everything alone. It is very important that you build redundancy into your program. Have a succession plan laid out in the event of absences, both on the field an off. Here are some things to consider: 1) TREASURER: Find someone who can keep the books, collect dues, and write checks. Having a good one will make life much easier. 2) SCOREKEEPER: All great organizations, regardless of their field of endevour, keep track of their results. Its not an ego thing, its simply a matter of placing value on your club's activities as well as the efforts of your players. Don't be afraid to recognize accomplishment. 3) MEDIA/WEB DESIGNER: Find someone who has a passion for these things and turn him loose. Good publicity will serve your team well over time. 4) UNIFORMS: This is another issue where I've seen teams screw up. So many times a new team wants to make that "big splash" by having fancy, expensive uniforms. Usually, these are bought and sold in minumum order sizes. A team will look nice and fancy for a year or so. Then, as attrition happens, they have to get more. They either cannot because the minimum order is more than they can afford, or those jerseys and shorts are no longer available. Then, you're just trying to mix and match, which sends a bad message to the guys. At Metro, we've been ordering the same jerseys and the same shorts for years, and at about the same price, too. I can order twenty at a time, or one. They're all right, but their not top-of-the-line pricey either. They work because the system I've employed is SIMPLE. Again, no headaches, always consistent and reliable. 5) SPONSORSHIP: When Metro started I put $300 of my own dough into it just to get it started so we could buy our first bulk of jerseys. Over the next few years I sponsored the team a little bit here and there, but dues were our main source of revenue. We have been blessed to have a consistent sponsor for several years now. We have not had to ask for an increase from $400 since the realtionship began since we manage to watch our costs. In return, their name and logo grace our jerseys and shorts, and every year they receive from us a placque with our team picture and record on it. Over the years, I have seen club teams change their names almost every year in an effort to beg for sponsorship money. Over time, the club's identity gets severely eroded. After awhile, morale sags. Many of these teams end up dissolving, their players scattered and their once-promising club now but a footnote in history- if that. Advice from me: Find and keep a GOOD team name that you can be proud of. Make dues your main source of revenue. Seek sponsorship to help make ends meet as a secondary source of income. In return, allow the sponsor to advertize on your uniforms, but NOT at the expense of your team name. If you needed money to put your child through private elementary school, would you change his name to "John Hancock" if that company decided to pay his way through? A walking, talking billboard? I would hope not!!!! Treat your team the same way. Its your child, your baby.