Recently, I talked with Matt Lucas, Head Baseball Coach at El Dorado High School in Placentia, California, whose sports field was named the 2020 National High School Baseball Coaches Association Field of the Year.
How does a busy baseball coach find the resources and time to create an award-winning field? Coach Lucas said there is no “secret sauce” to successful sports field maintenance, but rather, “being willing to put the time in” to maintain the field to superb standards. He added that the players are invested as well. Coach Lucas teaches the players how to maintain the part of the field they use. Infielders take care of the infield, pitchers maintain and repair the mounds and catchers take care of the home plate area.
Then Coach Lucas got into the financials of how he is able to do what he does, and it involves the relationship with the booster club, the players and their parents. Here are three ways to partner with your booster club as you work together to improve your sports fields.
Start with the Basics
Coach Lucas and the booster club for his baseball program have some simple rules to live by. First, have a booster club with by-laws. While it may seem difficult to set up, there are websites that provide step-by-step processes for how to get started, even providing the exact wording you can use in order to be legally compliant.
Booster club by-laws help govern the activities of its members and allow for the creation of a Board of Directors. For example, to manage funds properly, set up a spending limit where all board members need to agree to a purchase if the item or service is above $1,000. Smart spending will establish accountability for how the funds are used, cut back on unnecessary or untimely costs and lead to a greater amount of funding for improvements.
Share the Vision
Coach Lucas recommended sharing your visions, both short and long term, with the board. What do you envision your sports facility and program will look like in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years? Take the time to create a plan and set up milestones that can be used to mark success points.
As the board sees your vision and hears your ideas for improvements, they can get behind the efforts and help you communicate these goals to parents which in turn helps with fundraising, encourages participation and leads to more donations.
Regulate the Number of Fundraisers
Lastly, Coach Lucas warned, “Don’t over fundraise. Pick two to three objectives that everyone can participate in.” He explained that the El Dorado boosters hold four fundraisers throughout the year and each player/family is expected to participate. Spreading out the events increases the amount of participation, helping players and their families to stay excited about the fundraising process without being overwhelmed by it. With this money, Coach Lucas can help supplement services on the playing field that the district cannot pay for.
Coach Lucas added that this is not a quick fix, but with the support of a booster club and its parents and players, you can also create a field of the year with some planning, education and passion.
I would like to thank Coach Lucas for the time and the insight on maintaining his field and utilizing his booster club to help him reach his visions for the field. Clearly, he has a passion for maintaining and growing the playing field and also providing top notch facilities for his players. You can reach Coach Lucas on Twitter at @EDHawksBaseball and on the web at eldoradobaseball.com.
Big thanks to the El Dorado Hawks for letting us share a great photo of their award-winning sports field.