Bag Check: The Well-Equipped Team Manager

If you’re old enough to remember the television show, Let’s Make a Deal, then you have a pretty good idea what my team manager’s bag looks like: a large duffel-type bag with everything but the kitchen sink inside. I’m ready for just about anything the coaches and players throw at me–and maybe I’ll win that new car behind Door #2.

Some of the things in my bag are more useful than others, of course. For example, I’m not exactly sure why I carry around the wooden chopsticks from our local Chinese restaurant. Or the sunglasses with only one arm. But it’s a good bet that the day I take them out is the day I’ll need them.

Here are the items that I find essential on game day as the team manager:

  • Team roster with phone numbers

It’s inevitable. Ten minutes before kickoff and one of your players isn’t there yet. The coach is busy running pre-game warm-ups, so it’s your job to track her down. If you have easy access to a team roster with all the parents’ cell phone numbers, you can quickly figure out whether the parent is simply lost, went to the wrong field, or if something more serious happened. I keep a copy of the roster in my bag and another in the glove compartment of my car, just in case. You can also find this information on TeamSnap right from your mobile phone and the iPhone app makes this even easier!

  • Instant ice packs and Band-Aids

I usually designate the snack person to bring ice and zippered plastic bags to the game, but I also always have a few instant ice packs in my bag as well. They’re easy for the kids to use and a great backup when the snack person forgets the ice. I also keep a box of Band-Aids in my bag for little scrapes and cuts, often by a sibling or parent on the sidelines or the in the bleachers.

  • Hair ties

It amazes me how many kids think they can bat, catch, or kick a ball with hair in their face. Not only does the hair interfere with seeing the ball, it actually distracts the player from the game. How many times have you seen a soccer player stop midfield to redo her ponytail? And yes, I bring hair ties for the boys teams, too.

  • Athletic tape, underwrap and scissors

Often, the coach will have a roll or two of athletic tape in his bag, but I like to carry some as well. If you have a parent who is a doctor, she can easily tape up an ankle during halftime. Also, the underwrap serves not only to protect sensitive skin under the tape, but can be used as a hairband as well! Just have the player wrap the underwrap around her thigh and tie a knot. Slip it off her leg and around her head. It’s just the right size!

  • Extra socks, jersey, shin guards

These are the things that can avert small crises. An extra pair of socks for the player who ran out the door without them. One home and one away jersey in case someone brought the wrong one. And, for soccer, I always have an extra pair of shin guards.

  • Plastic baggies

No, not for ice. For all the watches, earrings, bracelets and necklaces that seem to get worn even when they shouldn’t. The baggies not only help me keep track of all the small items, but also ensure that I return the right earrings to the right player (or her parent) after the game.

  • Permanent marker

I use this for marking baggies (see the previous item), hats, jerseys, and a whole lot more. You can also write on the athletic tape to make temporary name tags. The marker also makes it easy to create a quick sign at a tournament!

These are just the items that I find myself keeping in my bag year in and year out, no matter what sport I’m involved with. They help me keep the team running smoothly, so the coach can coach and the kids can have fun. What do YOU find absolutely essential?


Emily is a freelance writer living in Berkeley, California. Emily brings a lot of first-hand experience to the table having been team manager for her children’s soccer, baseball, basketball, and softball teams and she also captains a number of her own adult tennis teams.

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