Getting your volunteers lined up is sometimes pretty simple and sometimes difficult depending on the parental makeup of your players. Let’s start by the basics you’ll need:
- Referees – The more you can get the easier it to attract additional ones as the workload goes down. You becoming a ref certainly helps, but always aim for 3 or more
- Team parent/manager – Typically someone that can contribute to the website, plans a couple of events, and generally helps keep other parents organized for snacks, etc
- Team photographer – There is usually at least parent that loves to bring the big lens and get all the actions shots, get them to help you get a few individual shots of each player during the game and occasional team photo captured and posted. It provides a great incentive to visit the team website and takes a load off of you.
Other roles are more optional depending on the player age and team size and could include: Field Setup, Banner/Flag Setup, EzUP Setup, Scheduler or Website Coordinator, etc.
The hard part is not naming potential roles, the hard part is actually getting them assigned. Fortunately, our region does a great job of recruiting potential volunteers during registration. But eventually you’ll get a team that needs some help getting across the finish line.
- Ask early – In one of you initial communications before your parent meeting, let them know what roles you need ask that they reply to volunteer. Use our templates to help. Keep reminding them AYSO is 100% volunteer run
- Ask in person – During your team meeting, you will already know what roles will be more difficult to fill because you’ve already asked once and the role remains unfilled. Toward the end of your meeting, ask for volunteers for the remaining slots. Be ok with the uncomfortable silence afterwards. If you wait long enough usually a few parents will “crack” 😉
- Recap and gate – In your followup from your team meeting, graciously thank the parents that have volunteered and let everyone know what’s remaining. In your kindest but firm way add a gating factor for the season that unless you have this role filled (usually just referee) the league 1) will not allow you to distribute jerseys, and 2) your team will NOT be eligible for playoffs
- If still nothing budges you can pull the nuclear option of telling your players that in order to have a “Candy Friday” practice (or anything similar) we need to get a volunteer. If you have to lay it on real thick, the player whose parent volunteers gets first choice of jersey number (or any other reward). I think I only had to use the last one once but it worked real quick!
The thing to take from this article is that you shouldn’t just ask, then throw up your hands when you hit a stumbling block. Most seasons I easily get volunteers, in some cases it’s harder, but as more coaches start (and enforce) this process earlier, the easier it gets down the road as parents are accustomed to volunteering and already certified (in the referee case). Challenge yourself to come up with creative ways to recruit your extended team!