An explanation of Teams, All Stars, The Park System, and everything else as best as I can explain it.
This may be a little bit long-winded but hang in there. I’m going to be primarily speaking to those of you like me, people with small children who have been in the recreation system post-Katrina. And I speak only for myself, as I have come to understand it.
A little over a year ago, the pre-Katrina style park system was put back into place. What this meant was that what you have been used to post-Katrina (one centralized recreation administration location, hereafter referred to as ‘Rec’) was changed to four booster clubs staffed solely by volunteers: Carolyn Park, Versailles, Borgnemouth, and Kenilworth. The responsibility for registration, coaching, concessions, advertising, etc, was slowly (or in some cases rapidly) moved onto the clubs and we have had to adjust, just like you, in real-time.
Where you used to go to sportspilot or walk into Val Reiss and register your child has been changed to logging into your local park’s page and registering there. Each of the Booster Presidents and Athletic Directors get together with Recreation Staff at roughly the start of each sport and attempt to work out the details of fee’s, schedules, playing locations, and all the other particulars prior to broadcasting it to the parents. Overall the ‘feel’ of the recreation program is driven by the parish (sports played, A & B teams, etc). In most cases, the Booster clubs attempt to gain feedback from the parents as it relates to some of these things through parent meetings but turnout for parent meetings are typically low unfortunately, although we are very grateful for those that are able to attend. Our Booster resources are meager, we typically use social media, email blasts, flyers in the schools, yard signs in the neutral ground, Rec will send out emails, etc., in order to get the word out about registrations and events. The registration period is typically open a month or better prior to the closing of clinics, yet the vast majority of the registrations occur three to four days prior to the final day of registration. Understand that the closing date of registration is not because we don’t want to register a child after that, it’s because the logistics involved are cost prohibitive as well as just plain infeasible sometimes as it relates to the numbers of players on teams, talent levels, etc.
We pay Rec a fee per player, it is different for every sport and sometimes there is a sibling discount. Sometimes there is not. The Rec fee is assumed to go towards the referee cost, facility maintenance, grass cutting, etc. If you want clarification on this you will have to go to the Parish, this is not a question I can answer. The remainder of the registration fee goes towards equipment, uniforms, etc., and basically works like this (usually): the lower the registration fee the cheaper the uniform, the higher the registration fee the nicer the uniform. Sometimes you get to keep the uniform, sometimes you don’t. Usually if you are keeping the uniform the registration fee will be higher, we don’t want to subsidize something we can’t re-issue in the future. These are broad generalities but they are questions that usually crop up. As an example, and I’m making this up for this post, you may pay $75 to play football to your park. Your park will have to turn around and pay Rec $45 per player, and then get uniforms and equipment for $30 per player. Sometimes this works in the parks favor by a dollar or two but often times it does not. The registration fees are obviously set prior to registration being open and uniform costs are priced in bulk after we have registration numbers. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.
We used to play at Hannan and Val Riess, now we play everywhere, all the time, at the same time. My son and daughter have had soccer games at the same time, in two different places, and I can’t watch them both. Or maybe I can’t get them to both! I had the issue last season and I coached both teams because we had a lack of coaches in our zone for that age group. Unfortunately, some parks can play more games at one time than other parks so it makes scheduling difficult. Rec staff does their best to ensure that two parks play each other across all age groups at the same time, but many times it’s just not feasible. The Booster clubs are not responsible for the game schedules. It may be that you have one child play in Kenilworth while another plays at Versailles. During the regular season this may or may not be an issue but during playoffs the location is determined by the team’s record so it is more likely to occur if you have children on multiple playoff teams.
Drafting, Teams, & Schedules
I’ll start with the A and B teams. Currently we have A and B teams in basketball and are most likely going to have it in baseball. Whether or not you are a proponent of mixing talent levels together or separating them out, this is where we are. I prefer to mix them together so I argue that side of the philosophy, others prefer to separate, both sides have valid points. As it relates to this, and I have fielded a number of inquiries as to why is a particular child on a particular team or why are they not on a particular team, the children are graded by the coaches at the clinics based on a number of factors. The main factor is talent level but other things may come into play, if the child is good at basketball but doesn’t listen, is disruptive, etc., then they may not be on the A team no matter how good the parent thinks they are. At the draft, the coaches pick their players and the rosters are set. As is the case this year, we have more children than coaches, and I encourage you to contact your park’s athletic director if you would like to help.
Again, game schedules are created by Rec, not by the Booster clubs. One additional note on the game schedules that came up with football: Why did some of the games start so late? There are a limited number of referees who have to get from one end of the Parish to the other so drive time has to be taken into account in some cases. We have little to no control over this. The practice schedules, however, are created by us, and take into account a great number of factors. Coaches work schedules, Catechism, parents work schedules, school events, events at the facility, holidays, etc. all play into when and how often a practice can occur. For instance, this season we have over 150 registrants in Versailles, this is almost a 30% increase over last year and we still have the same amount of space, with less coaches, and two less light bulbs! All of these considerations are taken into account and numbers are crunched by the volunteer board member(s) after work, while dealing with children/life/complaints/etc. and are done as fast as humanly possible.
This is has been a big topic of late. Before, All Stars were the grouping of children parish-wide, split into two teams evenly (ish). Now, it is set up as an East vs. West style of play. All Stars is a Rec thing not a Booster club thing. Rec asks the coaches to nominate X number of players from each team and then Rec schedules the games, purchases the uniform, hosts the event, etc. Sometimes the children in the East will be bigger than those in the West and vice-versa. Not much we can do about it, and to be very honest and speaking for myself, I don’t think we have the volunteers to deal with the additional logistics required.
Your Booster club sells food at the games and practices. This money goes towards equipment, subsidizing uniforms, putting on events, maintenance, etc. Some of your parks need, well, parks. Borgnemouth needs a baseball diamond, Versailles needs an entire park, Carolyn Park and Kenilworth have additional things that need to be done as well. Without concessions we can’t raise money, it doesn’t really come from anywhere else. Without volunteers we can’t run concessions. Often you will see the same person in concessions day in and day out, trust me, it’s not because they like working in a tiny little convenience store for free! It’s because they believe in the children and giving them the same experience that they had as a child with rec sports. If you see a teenager working in concessions, they are not being paid and would much rather be with their friends, tip ‘em, giv ‘em a buck. Make it worth their while to help out.
For those of you who have made it this far, well done. I know this was a long and laborious read but I hope you have gained a little bit of insight into what your Booster Club representatives have to work with on a daily basis. I can tell you that our phones don’t stop making noise. Ever. Every time a parent wants to swear at a Ref. Ding. Every time someone wants to register late. Ding. Every time someone has an issue with a coach. Ding. And we don’t mind, we truck on and continue to provide the highest level of service that we can after working our full time jobs, taking care of our families, getting dinner going, and making sure homework is done.
Versailles Cardinals Booster Club