Staying sane. Enjoying the game.

Staying sane. Enjoying the game.

Are you still trying to organize your sports teams using email? Does this make it difficult to keep track of who’s coming to which game or practice and who’s not? Does sharing photos of your team’s events seem like more of a burden than a joy?

Maybe you need an online team management system.

There are lots to choose from offering similar capabilities, so deciding which one to use will likely be a decision about whether you want to spend additional money for a more extensive paid service and which interface works best for you.

The Basics

All of these apps replace the traditional tools of the coach, manager and player parent, like the clipboard, the telephone and the email used to send photos around to the whole team. And they offer much more besides.

They all offer a place to list games and practices, allow players to indicate their availability, keep team lists and statistics, and set up pre-event alerts. You can designate people to certain roles, and ensure everyone knows who’s bringing the snack or who’s working the clock. Most of them also allow parents to make team payments through them, eliminating the need to deal with cheques or bank transfers and lists of who’s paid and who hasn’t.

You can also synch the schedule with your calendar and share it with others. You can post and share photos easily, and for those who like to keep statistics, you can do that, too.

Free Offerings and Upgrades

All the apps offer free options, and some, such Teamer and Teamstuff, are entirely free, making their money on transaction fees or advertising. Other apps, like TeamSnap and RosterBot, offer a free plan as well as and one or more paid plans offering greater services. And they’re all optimized for mobile devices, too.

Beyond the Basics

TeamSnap even includes a Community section with blog posts and podcasts related to amateur sports on topics like communications for coaches, concussions, and easing the stress of athletes’ parents. It also has extensive skills and drills for numerous sports, all of which can be accessed without a membership.

Spoiled for Choice

The bid by numerous companies to get a small slice of the youth sports market, which was worth $5.7 billion in Canada in 2014, according to a Solutions Research Group study, is a good thing for the coaches, manager and parents.

It means we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to sports management apps, and the competition keeps pushing the companies to make them better.

What about you? Do you have a favourite sports management app? What was the worst thing about managing communications for a sports team before these apps came along?



Are you still managing an amateur sports team with a clipboard and a telephone? You need a sports management app. Read my blog to find out what some of the benefits are.



Amateur sports team manager, coach, player parent? A management app can help keep everything organized. #sportssanity


Photo: Pixabay




Here I am … but I’m not happy about it


Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s social media shy. And that’s a huge relief. I am not alone.

Being “out there” on social media has long been a struggle for me. For example, despite Facebook offering the perfect platform for sharing the ups and downs of having a new baby with friends and family, when my son was born in 2007 I actively shunned the platform in favour of email. There’s still a folder in my Gmail account labelled “Baby has arrived,” which my husband used to send out an announcement. It has 64 contacts in it. Sixty-four!

And it would be more than two years more before I would join Facebook. I posted twice in 2009, not at all in 2010, and 16 times ins 2011, with the bulk of the posts being news story shares.

Far Behind the Facebook Curve

A Wikipedia entry about the history of Facebook puts the average monthly growth of active users in the early days of the platform at 178.38%. I could have been a part of that. But instead I was so far behind the curve I joined when Facebook’s monthly active user growth averaged just 6.99%.

I’ve posted a lot more on Facebook in more recent years, but even now my posts tend heavily toward sharing news from other sources, not my own.

And it’s not that I’m shy. My friends and family  especially the introverts — will tell you I’m anything but. What it comes down to is that I’m still trying to get over the feeling that I don’t want all my life out there for everyone to know about and comment on.

I suppose I’ve made some peace with Facebook. I feel like I contribute enough to be more than a lurker but — once again far behind the curve  I’m still struggling with Twitter and Instagram, where most of my friends post regularly but I can’t seem to.

Trying to Figure Out Who Cares

My biggest difficulty is trying to figure out who beyond the tight circles of friends and family I interact with off-line cares what I think … or even more so what I drink. In case you’re wondering, I have posted to Instagram once, coffee art, not original, but unthreatening. Like this:


And maybe that’s the answer. I think what makes me uncomfortable is the oversharing on much of social media, Facebook particularly, and that’s tainted my own view of it and comfort with it as a tool for personal connection.

Being OK with Where I’m At

And maybe that’s OK. Maybe just because it feels like everyone else is putting everything out there, doesn’t mean I have to as well. Showing up at a party doesn’t oblige me to tell everyone else there my innermost thoughts, and showing up on social media doesn’t either.

What about you? Do you spill the beans about every aspect of your life on social media, do you keep most of your private life private, or do you fall somewhere in between?


I’m not quick to share much about my personal life on social media, mostly because I’m not sure any beyond my immediate circle is interested. What about you? Are your Facebook feed and your Instagram page full of intimate details about your life or do you hold back when it comes to social media? #notalone #whocareswhatIthink



Discovering I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to spill everything on social was a relief. I don’t struggle alone! #whocareswhatIthink

Photo 1:  courtney guttenberg. Cropped. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Photo 2: Pixabay

Hands off the hashtag, Jim


The old joke is that Jim Watson would go to the opening of an envelope.  The unveiling of a plaque marking a site of minor import, the pie-making contest at the local fair, the spaghetti-dinner fundraiser in the church hall. You can count on the mayor to be there.

You can count on the mayor to be there online, too, on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Twitter. He’s as savvy about the opportunities on social media as he is about the opportunities at the strawberry social. He’s so savvy, in fact, that in 2015 he was a guest speaker at a Third Tuesday Meetup, a monthly gathering of communications professionals and marketers interested in networking and learning about the use of social media in business and government.

The Mayor’s Three Tips


He gave them three tips, according to a report posted on Thornley Fallis Communications’ website: Join the conversation, make it personal, and keep it friendly.

But Watson failed to follow his own rules – in spirit if not in letter – recently when he tried to start a Twitter-storm using the hashtag #SaveConfedPark.

It’s a great hashtag, actually. It’s smart, it’s clear, and it’s to the point. You know, “Save Confederation Park,” it screams.


The only thing wrong with it is that Confederation Park doesn’t need saving. And by that measure alone it must be judged “unfriendly.”

The hashtag was a salvo in a battle that didn’t exist against a small – though vocal – minority of Ottawa citizens who didn’t like the location being recommended for a new public library main branch.

Just days before the Ottawa Public Library board was to vote on that new recommended location – chosen from a list of 12 that DID NOT include Confederation Park – the idea of locating it there turned up in a couple of spots, including in an Ottawa Citizen op-ed and in a YouTube video created by opponents of the recommended site, as Metro newspaper reported here.

Not conversational

So Watson used his considerable clout as a mayor — clout magnified by his more than 100,000 Twitter followers — to stir up opposition with this hashtag that suggests a fact the mayor knows not to be true. T

In using this strategy, Watson sowed confusion in the public conversation and left himself open to accusations of being a purveyor — or at least an instigator — of “fake news.”

This isn’t conversation, this is manipulation.

In the event, the hashtag didn’t get much traction. A few people retweeted the mayor’s tweet and a few more used the hashtag in their own tweets about not giving up the park to a  library, and there were a few, too, who pointed out the park wasn’t in need of saving.

Reputation at Risk

I get that the mayor was trying to head off what he saw as a potential threat to the park, but his hashtag strayed a little too far from reality and in doing so put his good name and his reputation at risk

What do you think? Did the mayor go too far with his hashtag? Do you think it will affect his reputation? What do you think about this kind of offensive play?


Facebook Post: Mayor Jim Watson’s trying to get people to stop the new public library being built in Confederation Park using the hashtag #SaveConfedPark. The problem is the park isn’t under threat – it’s not the recommended site and wasn’t even on the list for consideration. Did the mayor make a good offensive play or not? Do you think it will affect his reputation?


Twitter Post: Ottawa mayor’s offensive to stop library from being built in park goes too far. There’s no threat of that. #saveConfedPark #jimwatsonploy





Confederation Park: Robert Linsdell. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Jim Watson:QUOI Media Group. Cropped. Licensed under Creative Commons.

How the parents in the stands helped me confront my hockey hesitation


It wasn’t mean to be this way. Not in my family, not with my child. It wasn’t mean to be all about hockey.

My child was going to cross-country ski, and he was going to love it. My child was going to speed-skate, and he was going to love it. My child was going to hop out of bed on Saturday mornings raring to get on his bike and go for a 100-kilometre ride.

That was my child. That was, at least, the child of my imaginings.

But that’s not the real child, the flesh-and-blood nine-year-old boy who has his own opinions, about most things, if the truth be told, but definitely about sports.

That child?

That child likes to ski, but only if there’s hot-chocolate afterwards, that child  likes to ride, but only to the beach, and that child, yes, that child likes to skate, but only if he’s got a stick in his hand and a helmet strapped firmly to his head.

That child turned me into a hockey mom, a hesitant hockey mom, but a hockey mom nonetheless.

Sound familiar?

If you’re a hesitant hockey mom, too, you need to know that you’re not alone. Not remotely.

What I discovered once I reluctantly joined the hockey mom ranks, is that there are lots of hesitant hockey moms out there. Some are hesitant because of the fighting in hockey, some are hesitant because they’ve heard terrible stories about hockey parents and how they act, some are hesitant because of the cost or the number of activities their children are already in, or because they didn’t grow up playing or watching the game.

And some are like me, hesitant because they’d rather their kids did things the whole family could do together.

I wanted to be like the family of Canadian freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau. I remember during the Vancouver Olympics, after he’d won moguls gold, listening to him talk about how he gave up hockey — a sport he loved — to take up a sport everyone in his family could do, including his older brother, Frédéric, who had cerebral palsy and couldn’t skate.

What selflessness! And what a gift to the whole family!

That’s how I imagined it.

But a funny thing happened once I’d signed the boy up and bought all the equipment and lugged myself to the rink a few times. All the parents who started out sitting apart from each other started to talk, and they started to sit together, and talk about the play and talk about their lives, and become friends even.

It got so that I looked forward to going to the rink where we’d all cheer like crazy when one of the Lightning Bolts had the puck, where people didn’t get annoyed when I asked for probably the 100th time, “What just happened?” and where my child was really happy. It looked really fun, too.

Check out how fun it looks in this video of novice players!

These parents weren’t crazy, either, they didn’t love fighting in hockey — at least not when it involved nine-year-olds — and they all somehow managed to balance the activities their kids were in and the rest of their lives.

It was such a great season that I felt — bereft is too strong a word — but sad, definitely, when the season came to an end. It felt like something was missing that first weekend without hockey. Something fun, and something that even felt like it was a family affair.

And I’m back in the rink again this year, cheering and asking questions — “Was that offside?” — and getting to know another great group of parents.

What about you? Are you a hesitant hockey mom or do you embrace the rink? How did you learn to love being a hockey mom?

Join the conversation by leaving your comment.

Facebook: I was the poster child for parents who didn’t want their child to play hockey. I had my own reason but there are lots of others. Are you a hesitant hockey mom? What are your reasons? Read my blog to find out how I learned to embrace the game and join the conversation in the comments.  #hesitanthockeymom

Twitter: Not every Canadian mom wants her son to play hockey. Find out what changed the mind of this #hesitanthockeymom.

Photo: Pixabay