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!

suntrust-sign
Our first glimpse of the field as field prep was being done.  This brings me so much excitement for the season to come.
press-box
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.
below-the-chop
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!)
1st-base-side
First Base side seating.  We will be closer to the action in this wonderful, intimate ballpark.
braves-batting-tunnel
The Braves will have extra space outside the Braves dugout for players to take some swings before being on deck.
braves-clubhouse
The Braves Clubhouse–beautifully designed and attention to detail.

better-clubhouse-photo

batting-tunnel
The Braves Batting Tunnel: Pitching machines will be available to give the players the kind of pitch and the speed they choose.
managers-office
The Office for the Official Braves manager, Brian Snitker!
infiniti-club
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.
3rd-base-side
Photo taken from the Third Base side
view-from-right-field
Photo taken from one of the Middle levels looking down.  You see the right field foul pole in front of me.
chickfila-cow
The SunTrust Park Scoreboard and the Chick-fil-A Cow!
tomahawk
Ready to Chop!
view-from-center-field
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.
beautiful-architecture
The Iconic ‘A’
behind-home-plate
Have I mentioned that I am excited??
bridge-leading-to-the-battery
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.
looking-down-mainstreet-of-battery
A look down “main street” of The Battery Atlanta
walkway-leading-into-the-field
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!!

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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!

turner-field-dirt

 

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!

turner-field-signturner-field-watermarkfinal-gamethank-you-turner-fieldconfettiskyfan-plazaturner-field-night

The View from Behind Home Plate

Ender Inciarte

I Love Sitting Behind Home Plate.  Here is one of my favorite players… Ender Inciarte!

Lead-off Batter against the Miami Marlins.

Turner Field, Atlanta, GA …July 1, 2016

 

Thank a Coach!

Thank you to our coaches who give so much

of their energy and time to helping our kids

learn the game of baseball and softball.

They are VOLUNTEERS, which means that they CHOOSE to be there!

Thank you for teaching good sportsmanship,

not to give up,

and how to be part of a team.

We thank you all so much for everything you do!

Team Mom: How to Accommodate Multiple Food Allergies on your Team

With coaching baseball for a long time and managing several teams, there comes the issue of post-game snack and food allergies.  We want everyone to be safe, yet be able to enjoy the snack after the game with everyone else.

I always ask the parents at the beginning of the season if there are any food allergies.  I’ve had those parents that don’t want to tell me because they don’t want their child to be embarrassed, and then some don’t want to say because they don’t want the other parents to have to worry about accommodating their child.

On the other hand, I’ve had some that WOULD like for their child not be left out of post-game snack.

I agree.

Personally, I want everyone to be able to enjoy the snack/drink/party food so we try to accommodate as much as possible.  Usually the parents on our team want the same thing.

Last season, we had 3 different food allergies on the same team.  Peanut, Egg, and Tree Nut.  This was the first time we had had multiple food allergies on one team in the same season.  I had asked the parents of the kids with the allergies to give me some snack suggestions but I didn’t hear back from them.  I think they were afraid to suggest something that could possibly be harmful for the other food allergy?  I’m not sure.

At first thought, you would think it would be extremely hard to find a variety of common safe foods for all…. but, this is NOT true. It was actually VERY EASY.

I googled “snacks free of peanut/egg/tree nuts” and found http://snacksafely.com/snacklist.pdf.  There is a long list of safe snack foods for these food allergies.  It was incredibly simple and took 2 minutes!

So, every week leading up to our games, I sent a snack/drink reminder 2 days prior to our scheduled game and telling the parents what allergies we had (but not who had them), and the link with the long list of foods that they can choose from.

It was a great resource to have and it made it easy finding safe foods that could accommodate everyone.  I had a great group of parents that were very happy to help.

So, if your child has a food allergy, don’t be afraid to speak up.  There are several different websites that I found that have GREAT IDEAS of foods to enjoy that accommodate several different allergies.

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/10/18/25-allergy-friendly-snacks-for-your-child-with-special-needs/

http://jazzyallergyrecipes.blogspot.com/p/egg-free-dairy-free-nut-free-snack-list.html

http://islandpicnic.com/recipes/snacks-desserts/20-allergy-friendly-after-school-snacks-milk-egg-nut-free/

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

If you are a team mom and trying to find safe foods for your team, or have a child with food allergies, I hope these links will help you.  In the end, the parents on your team will ultimately decide if they feel comfortable with their child eating was has been brought.  I have found it is better to have a pre-packaged snack instead of a homemade snack, so the label can be read carefully, and possible cross contamination from a kitchen can be avoided.

In the end, we want everyone to be safe and have a great baseball/softball experience!

Do you have any snack ideas to help with the different food allergies?  Helpful links or recipes?

Please share them with me… I would love to know more and can pass them on.

 

Opening Week of Braves Baseball

Opening SeriesThis time last Monday, we woke up with such excitement over Opening Day of Atlanta Braves Baseball.

Finally…after five L O N G months!

For us, it was Spring Break and we were happy!  My husband was off from work and kids were out of school.  Perfect.  The game was at 4:00 and it was a beautiful weather day.

Baseball Pancake
They were not the most beautiful, but they were fun and tasty.

I was so excited that I made baseball pancakes.  🙂

They were not the most beautiful, but they were fun and tasty.

As we were making our way downtown to the ballpark, we were met with many other cars on the highway in the middle of the afternoon!  Apparently, many other people were headed to Turner Field, too!  Awesome!  There was such an excitement in the air of the season to come.  It turned out to be a sold out crowd that night.  Excellent!

We usually go early for batting practice so maybe the kids can catch a homerun ball or maybe the players on the field will throw them one.  We save every ball.  I hope the players realize how much it means to our kids when they throw them a ball.  I especially love it when the players interact and can be funny.  With a simple friendly gesture, they quickly become our kids’ heroes.

Batting Practice
Batting Practice game 2
Pitchers
These guys are the best at throwing balls to the crowd

We ended up going to 3 games this week and the Lead-off Luncheon.  It was so much fun.  The Lead-off Luncheon involves the players and coaches.  One player or coach sits at every table.  This year we were able to sit with Alexi Ogondo, relief pitcher.  Williams Perez sat at the table next to us, and Jose Ramirez sat at the table on the other side of us.  I was also able to see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, so it was a very memorable day.  I was very proud of my children.  Not only did they handle themselves very well, they dressed up nice, thought the food was incredible (it was), and they thought it was the coolest thing ever to be eating lunch in the same room as their favorite players.  I have to agree.

Leadoff Luncheon
Chip Caray was interviewing Kelly Johnson, Freddie Freeman, Jeff Francouer, and Jason Grilli.  You see Williams Perez in the foreground, light blue shirt, gray jacket
Luncheon 2
You see Alexi Ogondo right in the front in blue checkered shirt, dark jacket

We always love to see our friends at the ballpark.  We have been season ticket holders for a few years now, so we get to see the same people.  Years ago, we started talking to one fellow, George, who works in the area where the kids can run the bases.  He’s been there now for 10 years.  We go see George every game we attend.  He is always kind, genuine, and happy.  Our kids don’t go to the run the bases anymore but we always go say hello. We found a picture of him from several years ago as we were taking a picture of our kids running the bases when they were small.  It is so neat to look back and notice someone in your pictures that you didn’t realize you would know later.

The Braves this week have had more than their share of struggles.  They are 0-5.  But, our happiness is not based on whether they win or lose.  I hope one day soon they can figure out what makes this new team work and find their success.

If you haven’t been following the Braves very closely. Here’s the scoop:  Over the past 2 years or so, the Braves have gone through a rebuilding process that has included many trades, trying to get rid of long term high paying contracts and focusing on the farm system (minor league teams) and building them up (home grown) to become our primary Major League Players.  It has been a painful process that has resulted in some of our higher playing favorites to be traded and to grow these younger guys properly to get them ready for our Major League team.  It is also a very long process that might take a couple of years still, but the end result will be a winning team that will produce major results.  The eye being on the World Series Title.  a.k.a. the “Long Range Plan”

We will still enjoy the games at Turner Field.  We are not fair-weathered fans.  Is it painful to watch what they are go through??  YES!!!  But, dark days do not last forever.  They will be great again someday!  Remember the Braves in the 90s??

Attending games at Turner Field is something we enjoy and with the family and friends we get to spend time with.  Just the other night, we ran into 2 families that we knew and they said to me, “We knew you would be here” and I will be.  One night, I looked up onto the Jumbo Tron and saw my high school friend, John, answering a question for a contest and won a $100 gift card to Home Depot.  I was able to go find him and later met his family.

So, as our kids go back to school today and my husband goes back to work, I will fondly remember a really good week together.  We enjoyed sleeping in, doing some fun family things, and cheering on our Atlanta Braves.

Go Braves!

Fireworks
Friday Night Fireworks at Turner Field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Mom: Ways to get your season started

If you are a Team Mom, then Congratulations!  You have a very important role.  It is fun and rewarding.  You will find yourself a coach’s assistant, administrative assistant, fellow coach, parent liaison, and have a fun connection with the boys.  It has been a very rewarding experience for me, one that I love doing because it is helping our teams do something so very special.  You can really help make baseball a very good experience for these boys.  This is my 12th season doing this with my husband, the head coach, and with our son who is passionate about baseball.  I am happy to help you along this journey….

This is how it has worked for us.

First, I get a copy of our players, parent phone numbers, and email addresses. If you are married to your head coach, this information should come easy to you.  If you are not married to your head coach and/or working with someone else, then please make sure you get this information.  In our situation, we get our roster and parent information and our practices start almost immediately.  So my hubby/coach has to call the families pretty quickly so they know what day to show up for practice.  Usually there is a team meeting the night of the first practice (or whenever your coach chooses) … so please make sure to attend so you meet the parents and say hello.

After the coach’s first introduction, either by call, email, or parent meeting, I usually send everyone an email further introducing myself.  Please include your cell phone number in every email in case parents need to contact you.

In your introductory email, you want to pack in as much information as possible.  The questions that every parent has is,

  • When is the game schedule coming out?
  • When do we bring snacks and drinks for our team?

I will answer these questions… usually in our case, the game schedule doesn’t come out for another week or so, and I will assure them I will get it to them as soon as it comes out. Then, at that time I will coordinate post-game snacks and drinks.

  • Ask if anyone has any food allergies
  • ask that the Medical Release Form be filled out and turned back in to you (if applicable)
  • Ask for their cell phone number

We have started to ask for our parent’s cell phone numbers for a texting list.  Parents really appreciate this.  This is great to communicate those last minute cancellations or field changes that needed to be communicated immediately.  Especially when you are on a travel team or moving around from one location to another, it is important to have that direct line of communication.  Texting is even more efficient than email.  There are team communication apps to assist with this now but require a sign up or install, and cost.  If parents have to sign up, register their number, or install an app, we have found, you only get half of them.  You’ll have to text or email out the important message anyway.

Also in your introductory email, include information about screen printing names and numbers on the back of the jerseys. (if it applies to you-see below)

In Recreational baseball:  At the first practice, it is important to get every player’s desired number for the back of the jersey.  In some situations we have been given jerseys with numbers 1-12 to pass out, in other cases the boys can choose any number they want.  It is important to research the t-shirt screen printing places in your area. We had some that charge as high as $7.50 to screen print a name (numbers were already on) on the back of the jersey but can have it done in 48 hours. Then, we have some that will take as long as two and a half weeks. I am not happy with the high cost and it definitely should not take 2½ weeks.  Even the store owner was mortified at this time frame and gave us the screen printing cost for free.  The perfect situation is to find someone that can do it for around $5 and can do it very quickly. A few days seems acceptable but the trick is to get started early so you’ll have time to get your jersey back before the first game.  Remember there are several other teams turning their shirts to be screen printed also.

We are now on a ‘Select’ Baseball team at our park, so they are handling uniforms and screen printing.  Just this morning, I just got an email saying that we all have to pay a small fee for the cost of putting names and numbers on jerseys, and monogramming numbers on hats.  The cost?  $10.  And so it goes…

Some leagues require a medical release form to be filled out by each parent with a doctor’s contact information, parent info, and date of last tetanus booster in case of an emergency.  Parents can return these to you at practice or email these to you for their convenience (and you can print them out). It is necessary to make sure you get one from every parent.   I usually keep a notebook with these forms, game schedule, and snack/drink schedule in a small notebook and in my bag.  That way I’m always prepared if anyone has a question.

Our league also asks each family on our teams to provide snacks and drinks for after one of the games in the season.  I always ALWAYS let my parents sign up for whatever game works for them because if they know the time that they will be out of town or will not be able to attend games, it take the stress out of not having to worry about switching around with another family for snack. This is just my personal preference. I do not like being signed up for something and then it falling on a weekend if I can’t be there. It happens every time.  Then it’s just one more thing to have to worry about. Usually, all my families will respond to sign up within the day. I do have a couple of parents that will say, “just sign me up wherever” so I will just put them in the missing weeks.  I like to give them the option to sign up for what works for them.  I feel it is more respectful of their time.

If a parent does not sign up for snack, I’ll ask them if they can take a particular game.  They will always say yes.  I have found that parents are happy to help.  If you are nice, they’ll be nice, too.  I assure them that I will send them an email reminder 1-2 days prior to their scheduled game.  I found they are thankful for this, too.

I feel that coaching or being a team mom is an outreach to our community.  It is an opportunity to touch lives.  You never really know what kind of home that these kids are coming from.  Some don’t have good situations at home, even if you live in a nice area.  Some have parents dealing with divorce, or illness, or a disability.  Some have hardships beyond our comprehension.  Some have never played baseball before and are scared to death.  Some don’t have dads at home to work with them or to simply play catch.  Baseball could be the very thing that lets them escape from all of that.  It is our job to give them a few hours a week of positive, uplifting, confidence building, team building fun.  It is important to build a good, long lasting baseball experience that they will remember forever.

Let’s Play Ball!