We’ve been waiting for more silver linings throughout the pandemic, so it’s exciting to see them come to the surface! As communities continue to recover, we hosted a Playerspace Learn from the Pros webinar to talk through planning for Fall Leagues. In the webinar, Playerspace Director of Sales, Chris Capone, spoke with Morgan Rickert, Director of Sports Operations for the YMCA of Metro Fort Worth and Caitlin Wampler, Sports Director at the YMCA of Greater Richmond. Morgan and Caitlin shared their experiences directing sports leagues throughout COVID and the lessons that continue to shape and improve their programming and operations.
In case you missed it, we’ve included the recording and top takeaways below.
Sports Programming in a Pandemic
As programming numbers dropped last year and organizations pivoted to meet new community needs, Morgan and Caitlin were amazed to see exactly how deep the connections between youth development and sports leagues run. From emergency childcare and after-school programming, to virtual classroom assistance and even virtual sports drills for families to experience from home, the holistic impact of youth development was present throughout the pandemic. This has inspired Morgan and Caitlin to seek out greater collaboration with other youth development leaders and departments within their Ys.
Communication is Key
The pandemic demonstrated point blank the importance of communication. Caitlin and Morgan both expressed the utility of Playerspace in maintaining active contact with parents and prospective players. From marketing communications to detailed emails with league info and vital safety practices, Playerspace made this communication easy and efficient. Morgan expressed, a process that used to take hours and hours to copy and paste personalized emails with important video links and coach contact info now takes a matter of minutes with email templates and roster management. Along with saving tons of time, this direct and consistent communication helps her drive more registrations for future programs and sports.
Morgan noted limited budgets means fewer flyers, signs, and brochures to market leagues. With Daxko Engage and Playerspace, she can set up workflows to automatically email and text lists of previous participants to promote upcoming leagues. When using that workflow 2-3 times in a registration period, she typically sees huge spikes in registrations 4-5 days after each communication.
In preparing for fall, Caitlin plans to use Document Storage to store and share the library of practice plans and content she developed during the pandemic. She can now arm her volunteer coaches with plans so it’s easier to prepare for practice. Other changes, like virtual coach and parent meetings will also continue. What was a necessity with facility closures is now an added layer of convenience for coaches, parents, and sports directors.
Caitlin and Morgan have both seen their sports programming numbers continue to rise since March 2020. But what lights up a flame of hope for both of them is that these numbers are nearing, if not surpassing, registrations from 2019! Both attribute this to the trust their organizations have built with their community over the past year. For many families, sports leagues are the first activity they are reengaging with since the pandemic began. The community witnessed their organization’s ability to shift operations to meet new needs. Caitlin summarized perfectly, “We’re not just here to provide sports leagues and swim lessons, we’re here for whatever the community needs.”
Morgan found that being transparent and proactive with parents and coaches helped reduce friction and increase trust. Parents and coaches are used to fast email responses. But with reduced staff numbers, Morgan had to find ways to provide the same level of service while balancing resource limitations. Using proactive, detailed emails and setting expectations on turnaround time has armed her community with tools for better self-service and reduced the volume of information requests.
Caitlin noted that a boost in sports registration can benefit the entire organization. Sports participants are an ideal group for cross promoting other programs and even help drive membership. As parents continue to experience streamlined communication and deepened trust with the organization overall, they’ll be more likely to become even more engaged and sign up for more programs outside of sports league.
Taking important lessons from the pandemic to prepare for fall leagues, Caitlin and Morgan are excited to keep streamlining communication and prioritizing relationships with their community.
We hope these tips from the pros help with your fall sports communication planning!
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. To dive deeper into how Playerspace can be a useful tool for you, your staff, and your members, connect with one of our specialists to learn more.