Opening Weekend 2017 at the New SunTrust Park

It’s finally here!  We have waited a long time for this day!  April 14, 2017!!  Three years ago when we got the announcement that we were getting a new ballpark, I had no idea how much progress, vision, and creativity could be carried out so well, so beautifully and so quickly!!

What an honor to serve on the Braves Fan Advisory Board for the new SunTrust Park for 2-1/2 years, working with some of the nicest people, and it is really amazing to see Braves’ vision (and what we have been talking about for so long) finally come to LIFE!!

There was so much excitement Opening night, throughout opening weekend, and so much energy in and around SunTrust Park.  There is so much to do and see at SunTrust Park and in The Battery Atlanta.  We attended the games Friday and Saturday night of Opening Weekend and still didn’t get to experience everything there is to offer.  I can’t wait to go back (which will be soon), and try several new food items by Delaware North in SunTrust Park, and enjoy all the cool places to eat in The Battery Atlanta.  There is so much thought and creativity that has gone into this ballpark.  It is amazing!!  I will let the pictures tell the story.

I was so happy to be a part of this project, even if in a small way.  I am proud to call this ball park, HOME!  Go Braves!

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This is the Silver Bullet Bridge overlooks the plaza where there will be pregame and post game activities that will go on.  Love the Braves Sphere!
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What a gorgeous statue!

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Coca Cola Roxy Theatre Pre-Game Party
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Derek Schiller, Terry McGuirk, Rob Manfred, John Schuerholz at the Pre-Game Party at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!

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He’s a very kind man.  Every time he meets my family he says, “Hi. I’m John Schuerholz”.  Never assuming they know who he is.
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Inside the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!  It is beautiful!
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Dancing Chick-Fil-A cows were hanging out near our parking lot!!
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This place was hopping!!
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Beautiful Views!

 

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Flyover during our National Anthem!!  Gave me Chills!

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Timothy Miller has a voice that will melt you!

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One of the many features of The Battery Atlanta!  An awesome place to hang out with your people.  It’s all about the experience.
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Overlooking the other side of the Plaza area where the Fox Sports guys will broadcast from.

 

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For Trivia Purposes:  The First Winner Ever of the Tool Race?  Hammerin’ Hank.
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It’s a beauty.  Don’t ya think?
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We got sit behind visitors’ dugout on this special Opening Night!
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I got this from Dale Murphy’s twitter.  I couldn’t resist!  Several Braves Legends in one shot?  Ok!
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View from our regular seats
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Braves win!  One of many I’m sure!  They had to win the first one!
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We got to enjoy a VIP party before the game but after the game we enjoyed a concert from Cole Swindell.  What an amazing night!
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The Coors Light ‘Below the Chop’

An amazing feature of our new SunTrust Park is the area called, the Coors Light ‘Below the Chop’.  As you can probably figure out, the new Coors Light ‘Chop House’ is above this, and this ‘Below the Chop’ area is field level, and out in right field.  This is a nice sized space for fans for a premium cost, and for private parties.  As you can imagine, it’s very popular already.  This area has a bar, food buffet area, and 2 rows of bleachers that have drink coolers that will keep your drinks cold on a hot day.  There are also restrooms so you don’t have to go far away from the action.  Everything you need is close by.  The Coors Light sign you see here is designed with baseballs.  Of course, the tables you see here are appropriately themed as well!  Take a look to see what else this area includes!

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Creative, huh?  I thought so.

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View from right field!  No heckling Bryce Harper.  LOL

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Plenty of seating with drink coolers (those holes you see in the tables!) to keep your drinks cold on a hot summer day!

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The view from the Coors Light ‘Below the Chop’
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Bar area

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This wall is painted with our famous outfielders throughout the years including Dale Murphy, Hank Aaron, Andrew Jones, and David Justice.  There is a space for our current outfielders to be written on the wall depending on who is playing that day.

 

 

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I hope you get a chance to see a game from this new premium space!  For more go to Braves.com/belowthechop

 

How To Get to SunTrust Park: Important Things You Need To Know

I wanted to pass on some important information from the Braves about how to get to and from SunTrust Park on game day!

The Atlanta Braves have put great thought and detail into how to make getting to SunTrust Park the best experience for you!  The Braves have joined in partnership with Uber, Waze, and Cobb County to help get you to the ballpark easier and help manage the traffic during game days.  They are excited to pilot new technology with the Uber app, and the updated MLB.com Ballpark App, to help make the entire process easier from purchasing your tickets, and planning your trip to and from the ballpark.

New Partnership with Uber:

“Uber announced the pilot of new technology that will make the pick-up experience fast and more efficient at SunTrust Park.”

“Riders leaving SunTrust park will be directed to the Uber Zone, which is located steps from the ballpark along Windy Ridge Parkway, through in-app messaging and physical signage. At the Uber Zone, fans will open their Uber app, set their destination and request a car as usual.  Instead of having to navigate to find a specific car and driver, riders will see a personalized PIN cole in their app and can simply give it to the next available driver in the Uber Zone.”

For game day travel, you are encouraged to make a plan in advance of your trip to SunTrust Park.  This can be done in 3 easy steps, and can be completed through the updated MLB.com Ballpark app.

What You Need to Know:

 Buy your ticket in advance!  The Braves have transitioned completely to PAPERLESS TICKETS.   Tickets can be purchased through the MLB.com Ballpark app where you will receive a barcode that will be scanned on your phone as you enter the gates.  You can also purchase tickets at Braves.com, or calling the Braves ticket office at 404-577-9100.

Buy your parking in advance!   When you purchase your game tickets, please also select and purchase your parking!  This will give you better choices of where to park and ultimately save you money.  There are 14,000 spaces around the ballpark, but purchasing before you arrive will give you customized directions and a pre-purchase discount.  Many lots will require a pre-payment, although some will accept credit cards at the site.  Plus, if you have bought your parking in advance, you will have the added benefit of the Waze app to help you get there.

Use the Waze App!  Because they are partnering with the Braves, Waze will be receiving real-time traffic information and updates from Cobb County to help spread out traffic in such a large area and help you maneuver around and find the best way to your parking lot (another reason to buy parking in advance).  Cobb County and Waze will be able to get you around trouble spots, much more than a smartphone map app, because it is customized to help you get to a Braves event.

To also help reduce congestion, The Cobb County DOT is assisting with traffic manageability by offering The Cumberland Circulator.  This transit system will have new routes to help you on game day, make daily traffic a bit more manageable, with enhanced mobility and frequency.

There are 14 access points to get in and out of the ballpark area, minimizing impact on everyday commuters.  There are 14,000 parking spaces available around SunTrust Park.  5,000 more parking spaces than at Turner Field…. for a ballpark with 8,000 less seats!  

I’m ready for new season in our awesome new ballpark!!  Let’s Play Ball!

For more information, go to Braves.com/transportation

 

 

The Kids’ Area at SunTrust Park

The Braves have worked very hard to include a fun space for our kids!  As with the rest of the ballpark, this area has been well thought out and carefully designed.  Now when your kids come to a game, they will get to enjoy so many amenities that SunTrust Park has to offer.  The Braves, in partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, have come up with a fabulous kids’ zone called ‘Hope and Will’s Sandlot’. It is located behind sections 151-155!

As always, there is a Braves Kids Club membership so your kids can be a part of the team!  A premium membership is $25 (per membership) or there is a free membership option as well.  When you buy a Premium Membership, there are several really great benefits and prizes that include a Dansby Swanson jersey and much much more.  Check out all the info at Braves.com/kids.

And be on the lookout about how you can reserve your times in advance for all the fun games and activities you will see here.

In the meantime, let me show you around….

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The ‘Hope and Will Climbing Tower’ is a fun climbing tower has a large Braves helmet at the top (seen below)!  I’m sure we’ll be spending a great deal of time here.

 

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You will see here a close up of the “loading dock” for ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’!  It looks like loads of fun!
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This is ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’.  This is the loading area where fans get strapped in and zip line down.  The building behind this is a hotel that will open in 2018.  What a great space!

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This is a great view of the First Base Dash, (where you can time how fast you can run), the Pop Flier Zip Line, and Climbing Tower.  The building you see to the right of this frame is a hotel that will open in 2018!

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Kids have their own Braves Clubhouse Store!
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I loved this game as a kid!  This is Hydration Station.  Players get to race by spraying water in the holes, (which raises the baseball),  to see who gets to the top first.
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Batting Cage, ‘Batter UP!’
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At ‘Strike Zone’, you get to see what it is like to hit a home run at SunTrust Park!
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‘Strike Zone’
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‘Chop A Mole’!!

 

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This is a game called, ‘Pick ‘Em Off’… Players will shoot a ball into the hole and whoever has the most balls go in, wins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kids even get their own snack and dinner spot!  I’m sure we will be spending a great deal of time here, too.

Thanks for letting me show you around the Kids’ area!  It’s going to be a really fun season!

See you there!

Go Braves!

My Tour of SunTrust Park

I had the privilege of touring our new SunTrust Park yesterday.  What an incredible sight!  What was once a field of dirt and just an idea, is now quickly becoming a reality.  Every detail, every design element, every space, seat, feature, club, food venue has been carefully thought out and constructed for us, the Fans!  The players will get a state of the art clubhouse, a separate area to hang out, eat, cook, and rest.  When it comes time for them to bat in a game, they will have a different space to take some swings before stepping onto the batters circle.  I am so proud of Derek Schiller and everyone at the Braves Organization for tirelessly examining every detail possible to make this a nice ballpark for Braves fans and the players.  I have had the pleasure of serving on the Fan Advisory Board for SunTrust Park for the past 2 years and I can tell you that this new ballpark and the adjacent development, The Battery Atlanta, is going to be amazing!  Bring on 2017!  And Let’s Go Braves!

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Our first glimpse of the field as field prep was being done.  This brings me so much excitement for the season to come.
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The field is now behind me and the press box is up at the top of this picture.  This gives an idea of the beautiful thought and architectural design that has gone into this great project.
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This is the lower level of the Coors Light Chop House called, “Below The Chop”.  There will be two rows of wooden bleacher seating here.  The opening to the field will have a vinyl coated fencing and fans will have a field level view, just a few feet from the right fielder position!  Pictured:  Braves President of Business, Derek Schiller, who also assisted in this description.  (Thank you!)
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First Base side seating.  We will be closer to the action in this wonderful, intimate ballpark.
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The Braves will have extra space outside the Braves dugout for players to take some swings before being on deck.
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The Braves Clubhouse–beautifully designed and attention to detail.

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The Braves Batting Tunnel: Pitching machines will be available to give the players the kind of pitch and the speed they choose.
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The Office for the Official Braves manager, Brian Snitker!
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This beautifully designed premiere club, will be located on the terrace level behind Home Plate.  This will showcase many Braves Memorabilia, have exclusive food and drink, as well as many places to enjoy the amazing decor and atmosphere.  This will be available to fans with terrace level seats.
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Photo taken from the Third Base side
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Photo taken from one of the Middle levels looking down.  You see the right field foul pole in front of me.
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The SunTrust Park Scoreboard and the Chick-fil-A Cow!
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Ready to Chop!
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Seeing it close to completion makes me very excited.  The construction workers are working fast and furious getting this done for Opening Day, 2017.  Last I heard, they were ahead of schedule.
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The Iconic ‘A’
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Have I mentioned that I am excited??
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This is the bridge leading to second level of The Battery Atlanta.  It will have specialty shops and restaurants that will be used not just during the Braves baseball season, but year round.
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A look down “main street” of The Battery Atlanta
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What you will see coming in one of the ballpark entrances.  What a great sight this will be, especially if this is the first thing you see!

We can’t wait!  Thank you again to the Braves Organization for all of your hard work!

Go Braves!!

The Powerful Words that Mean So Much

Last night, my son had a baseball game.  Husband was coaching.  I was running the dugout.  Our boys faced a tough team and played hard.  Our son had a good game but made some mistakes that don’t usually happen.  He was upset.

On the way home in the car, it was just the two of us.  We were quiet for a few minutes, just relaxing and downloading all that had happened.  Something prompted me to say, “I am proud of you”.  I saw his stress start to melt away.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Why would you be proud of me?”

I told him that he doesn’t have to do anything spectacular on that field for me to be proud of him.  As long as he tries his best, I will always be proud.

I reminded him that baseball is a tough sport.  There is a very good chance you will strike out, drop a ball, miss a grounder, or be called out at a base.   It is ok.  You will not be perfect every time.

There were some good things that happened on the field.  He had some good plays and hits, so we focused on those.  I reminded him that the rest of the player development will come… just to keep working hard.

The conversation could have gone a very different way in the car on the way home.  We could have focused on all that went wrong and how we were going to make it better, but instead, he needed to hear that I was proud.  And my words made a difference.

Later he told me that those words made him feel better about himself.  I hope so.  I don’t want his self-worth to be dependent upon his performance on the field.  He has a lot of heart, he loves the game, and as long as he is having fun and trying hard… I will ALWAYS be proud.

Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

Lessons from the Dugout

It’s hard to imagine that our baseball coaches are simply volunteers. There is a great deal of love, passion, and time that goes into a season.  My husband loves being able to coach.  I love being able to help.  One of my many responsibilities as a Team Mom is that I get to run drills with the boys on the field, I also do administrative stuff for my hubby/coach since he has a full time job, but I think my most important job is that I run the dugout.  For every game.

A lot happens in the dugout.  It is a very adventurous place.  Our son is now 11 years old, but when he and his teammaues were 9/10 and younger,  I found it was important to be in the dugout. I end up being the batting order coordinator, counselor, cheerleader, photographer, motivational speaker, nurse, aka boo boo fixer, monitor of boys climbing the fence, and trying to make sure none of the players swings a bat in the dugout.  I also am a “bat runner” or “bat girl” if you prefer.  It is fun but you have to stay on your toes.  I have to be prepared.

I make sure I have these important items in my trusty Team Mom Bag:

First Aid Kit

Medical Forms

Pens for my husband/Coach who always tends to forget his

Ice packs

Sunscreen

Extra Snacks

Water Bottles

Game Schedule/Snack Schedule

Team Spirit

I will always have a first aid kit with me for those moments where anything can happen.  Blisters, cuts, scrapes, bumps, and bruises.  This is also why I will bring a few ice packs.  (Summer Baseball is an entirely different situation… more on this later.)

Our park has asked our players to fill out medical forms in case of emergency.  I will always have those with me in a folder or notebook.

I will always bring a few extra water bottles and snack bars in case someone is starving in the dugout, or forgot to bring their water bottle.  Especially those who are running from somewhere else or forgot to eat breakfast.  Keeping in mind food allergies.

I always have a copy of the game schedule either in writing or on my phone because someone will almost always ask me about an upcoming game or when they are supposed to bring snack.

But, like I said I help out in the dugout, every game.  As the coach’s wife, he puts me to the task and trusts I will handle it.

The first couple of games are the funniest because the boys are still bonding as a team, and learning so much.  Some are climbing on everything, and some are throwing balls and/or swinging bats.  This is my job to monitor (prevent) all of this.

As the “batting order coordinator” so I have to have those boys ready to go on deck or up to bat.  No matter what.  It takes a game or two to get them to understand the timing of all of this.  When the boys were younger, sometimes it took 2 of us in the dugout… 1 for crowd control and 1 for batting order.

The first couple of games, our players can get so nervous.  I teach them to cheer each other on.  Sometimes things on the field don’t always go their way and this is an important lesson to learn.  If one of our players strikes out, I will teach they boys that as that player comes back to the dugout, that are met by their team with pats on the back and a “it’s ok, man!” or to give them a High Five.  Lift them up when they are down.  And to do that throughout the game no matter what.  Sometimes just hearing a “you can do it!” from another player can mean so much.

This is so much a part of the game.  Lifting each other up when GOOD things happen and lifting each other up when BAD things happen.

Things on the field will not go their way every single time.

Just like life…

Never DefeatedWhen things don’t go our way, it’s always nice to have a teammate, friend, family member to pat us on the back and say, “it’s ok, man!” or give us a high five for at least trying and getting out there and giving good effort.

By the end of the season, the boys are usually connected, they are teammates and friends.  They know what is expected of them in the dugout.  I don’t have to watch for swinging bats as much…or balls flying through the air, but I will see them give pats on the back and hear them give words of encouragement to their teammate when things didn’t go their way on the field.

Then I have done my job.

Sometimes, baseball is more than just baseball.

Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Coach

Do you have an amazing coach that has given your kids a great experience at their favorite sport?  As we all know, a good coach is hard to find.  These guys are volunteers and choose to spend their time teaching and helping our kids.  I know we all want a meaningful way to show our appreciation.

I love the idea of going in together as a Team and doing something nice for your favorite coach.  There are many ideas circulating but these are my favorite.

The parents on our team usually collected money for a very nice gift card to various restaurants or sporting goods stores and present it to the Coaches at the End of the Season Party.  This is such a great idea.  They do this on their own.  They know as a team mom, I am working on a gift from the players to the coaches, and I have something special I give to our players….See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

A meaningful gift for a coach from their players, is a team picture, surrounded by a mat, in a nice frame that the players have signed.  I’ve had several coaches tell me they really appreciated this.  My husband loves seeing pictures of every team he has coached on a special wall in our home.  See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

Another great idea I heard about was from my friend, Donna.  A coach she had worked with had really done an outstanding job with her kids.  She also knew he was a HUGE Boston Red Sox fan.  She emailed them telling them how excellent this coach was and that she wanted to do something nice for him.

They sent her a bottle of field dirt…to some, it might not mean that much, but to him, it meant the WORLD.  It contained actual MLB Authenticated game-used dirt from Fenway Park.  You can actually go to an authentication database and enter the hologram number which is displayed on the bottle.  This validates that this is actually game-used field dirt.  A very thoughtful gift, and something very meaningful to a true fan.

So, if you are looking for a meaningful gift for an important person or favorite Coach…. find out what their favorite team, or player, and try sending that email to that professional organization to see what they may send you or see what you can find online.

Everyone appreciates a good coach and we want to properly show our gratitude!

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The Final Game at Turner Field

What a fun and meaningful day.  It was a bittersweet day.  We are excited for things to come but sad to say Goodbye to a place where we have spent so much time.

I’m really proud of the Braves Organization for working so hard to make this day so special for all of us, as we are life long Braves fans.

I loved seeing the alums during pre-game like Javy Lopez, Chipper Jones, Marcus Giles, Rafael Furcal, Adam LaRoche, Andruw Jones, Brian Jordan, and Gary Sheffield.  We all loved the moment when Greg Maddox, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine walked in together from Centerfield to throw out the first pitch.  To have Timothy Miller sing the National Anthem as well as ‘God Bless America’ was a special treat.

I’m so happy that our Braves are playing strong baseball, winning their last 12 out of 14, and ended the season well.

And of course, how perfect that Hank Aaron would throw out the final pitch to Bobby Cox in a great closing ceremony!

Thank you to the Atlanta Braves, for a very proper tribute.

So now we say, so long Turner Field!  A new chapter begins at SunTrust Park!  Go Braves!

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Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players

As our baseball and softball season is wrapping up, it’s time to start thinking about the End of Season Coaches’ Gifts.  Our Coaches put so much time, effort, energy, and hard work into our seasons, we want them to know how MUCH they are APPRECIATED!

My husband and I are on our 12th season of coaching/managing a team.  We usually work with 1 or 2 assistant coaches.  We never forget any kid that has been on one of our teams.  Once you play a game together, there is a bond that never goes away.  We’ve seen these players struggle and have seen them succeed.  We have lost games together and won games together.  Some kids stay with us for several seasons, some age out or try other sports.  Either way.  They will always be special to us.

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I find these spiral notebooks for around $.05 at Target after school starts and all their school supplies go on sale…. 70% off!!  I stock up.

I am the one with the camera.  I take A TON of pictures throughout our seasons.  I present these pictures AT THE END of our seasons for our boys and the coaches.  For the boys, I will choose 4 or 5 of the BEST pictures of them in action on the field…catching a ball, throwing, hitting, sliding into base…and put them on a spiral notebook (with scrapbook adhesive) and laminate the cover so they will have a keepsake of our season.  They can use this spiral notebook as a journal over the summer or as a notebook in school.  Some boys like to show it to their friends.  Others like to display it in their room.  Either way, I feel it is a proper way to “give back” to these boys and parents for playing on our team and want them to remember a great baseball or softball experience.

 

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Read the package instructions to laminate the front cover of the spiral notebook and cut the excess off around the sides.  Smooth with a ruler as air bubbles will try to creep in.

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For the coaches’ gift, I will take a team picture and put it in a frame and have the players from our team sign it.  We have a wall in our basement (a room in which we occupy often) and it shows every season that we have coached.  It has every kid that has ever played on our team.  I think this gift means a lot to my husband and our coaches because of the investment, memories, and energy involved in a season.  Every season has a story.  Every season has great memories.

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Our Basement Wall of Players.  Yes, it is blurry on purpose to protect the identity of our players.  Our first season is displayed in the brown frame and will be put in a white frame soon.  One season we coached baseball and softball simultaneously.

I found these frames at Michael’s and I buy the same one every time.  Recently, they were selling these for 70% off (I could not believe my eyes!) so I bought all of them.  They are normally $8.99ish but I got them for $2!!!!!  T w o dollars!

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Since this is a gift from the boys and me to the coaches, the parents will usually collect money on their own and present gift cards to the coaches.  This is not something that I as the team mom usually do since I am usually coaching, too (and doing the picture gifts) and I feel weird collecting money for my husband.  🙂  We love what we do.

I will upload the pictures that I have taken to Walgreens and send out the link so the parents can order any extra pictures that they like.  Also, it gives them an opportunity to forward on to family members.

I hope you all have a great end to your Spring Season.

And again, a special Thank You to our coaches for EVERYTHING!