The softball season is right around the corner and beyond getting their teams set up on GameChanger, coaches all across the country are going through their final preseason checklist. From shopping to paperwork to finding volunteers, there’s always something to do before hitting the field.
Third-year coach Jeff Serbin of Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School Commandos shared his preseason checklist. He said having volunteers lined up to help knock out some of the list — including working at the Commandos’ huge home tournament to kick off the season — makes it easier for him to prepare his team for the games.
With 10 days until pitchers and catchers report, here are 10 things to remember for the start of your season:
1. Student-athlete paperwork: “All our physicals need to be on file before practice starts,” Serbin said. The team also collects transportation permission slips, emergency contacts and insurance and medical information.
2. Parent meeting: Parents and players in the Hendersonville program sign a parent/player behavior agreement. It’s also a great opportunity to also sign up volunteers for concession stands, tournaments and fundraisers.
3. Find a lead volunteer: The Commandos have a team mom who helps get parent information packets put together and passed out. “It takes a load off me,” Serbin said. That volunteer will also train someone new before they leave the post, Serbin said.
4. Shopping: Most of the team’s equipment is bought during the summer so the girls can use it during a short fall season. But Serbin makes sure all the players have practice gear and matching shoes before the season starts. The team also needs a big stock of scorebooks and balls. “We run out of balls pretty quickly,” Serbin said. “If someone hits a home run, we give them the ball. We need balls quite a bit.”
5. Check the field: Whether the team has its own field or plays at a city park, it’s always good to check the field’s condition. “There’s not much field maintenance to do (at the city park),” Serbin said. “We help clean up before the home opener.”
6. Final tryouts: “We hold tryouts in the summer for a summer team,” Serbin said. “But the first two days of practice (we have) an official tryout for any girl that did not tryout in the summer.”
7. Practice plans: “There are things we work on every day,” Serbin said, listing hitting stations, cutoffs, bunt coverage and other situational drills. The Commandos also use practices for intra-squad scrimmages. “We jump into intra-squad right away,” he said. “We’re in game mode. We want to see live pitching.”
8. Team website: One of Hendersonville’s assistant coaches runs the team website. It’s updated with schedules, rosters, team records, district standings and all the information about the 2015 Commando Classic.
9. Fundraising: The Commandos hold fundraisers throughout the year to help support the program. A golf tournament, a middle school softball tournament and a chicken sale all give parents an opportunity to participate and raise funds for the program. Those proceeds go to pay for equipment needs, a storage trailer, umpire costs and tournament fees. A parent volunteer tracks the funds, taking another task off Serbin’s plate.
10. Scouting opponents: It’s not always easy early in the season, but a little research won’t hurt. Serbin said his staff has a good idea about the Commandos’ district opponents and know they’ll face a Kentucky state champ at a tournament. “We got our opponents early, so we did a little (research) on them,” Serbin said. “During our tournament, we’ll go around and watch other teams we might play.”
Tom Glave is a freelance reporter for Red Line Editorial, Inc.