At some point, you may have asked for or provided a letter of recommendation. These letters are often needed when applying for a job, to get into college or a club, to apply for a mortgage or when hiring a contractor or other company to provide a service. Organizations applying for grants may also need letters of recommendation or support.
Letters of support are helpful in the grant evaluation process. These letters are intended to provide insights into the applicant’s ability and capacity and the need and worthiness of a project from organizations that have worked with the applicant. An applicant’s ability to provide letters of support also demonstrate that it has strong partnerships which are important in the sustainability of any project or program.
Letters of support should give an independent, unbiased perspective. The letter should not be written by the applicant or anyone directly associated with the applicant, such as a Board member, administrator, executive, volunteer or staff person. For example, if your organization is a school district, do not submit a letter of support written by the superintendent. If you are a municipal agency, do not submit a letter of support written by the mayor.
Letters of support should be genuine and customized. Do not write the same, exact letter on behalf of your supporters and have them sign a copy. Ask each supporter to write his or her own letter providing relevant information and unique insight.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund requires that each applicant provide two letters of support: 1) one letter written by a sponsor or donor, and 2) one letter written by an organizational partner.
Sponsors or donors are organizations or individuals that:
- Have provided funding to your organization recently or in the past, especially a major grant or donation for a specific project.
- Have provided annual or regular financial contributions or donations to your organization.
- Have sponsored (i.e. give financial consideration or services/products in-kind for) your program or facility.
Examples include a foundation that awarded a grant for a previous project or a local business that has been a long-time sponsor to your league.
A partner is an organization or individual that works with your organization, such as:
- An organization that benefits from your program or facility.
- An organization that collaborates with your organization.
Examples include a youth service agency that uses your facilities or the municipality that maintains your field.
Need advice about what should be included in a letter of support? Here are a few good resource articles we found online:
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund would like to share some “green” techniques that will help you keep your fields beautiful and safe, while being kind to the environment.
From the BTF Archives…a Q&A with Larry DiVito, Head Groundskeeper for the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
“Green” Field Maintenance
What is more environmentally friendly – natural grass or artificial turf?
That certainly is a tough question. Natural grass releases oxygen into the environment and absorbs carbon dioxide. In any urban or densely settled area, natural turfgrass can be considered, much like trees, as a positive element. However, well maintained grass does require irrigation. Likewise, grass also needs to be fed and mowed. Lawnmowers account for approximately 5% of air pollution produced by the United States. In addition, grass clippings in landfills release methane, a greenhouse gas. However, by maintaining your turfgrass with a sensible and balanced fertility program, you can help to control the rate of growth on your field, hence eliminating the need to throw away excess clippings. Mow on a consistent basis, without removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade for each cut. In doing this, you may let the clippings fall back to the turf, which returns nutrients to the plant. In addition to being better for the environment, this method will save you the time and hassle of collecting and dumping your clippings.
Artificial turf has evolved a great deal in the past decade and has established itself with a strong presence in the athletic landscape of America; however, many types of synthetic turf available today do have some drawbacks. While synthetic turf seemingly saves water, the surface can get extremely hot. This has led to a trend of field managers having to water their synthetic fields in an attempt to cool them off. This is the environmental equivalent of letting your garden hose run straight into the gutter. The solution, of course, is not to practice or play at times when the surface is too hot, rather than waste water. Another drawback of synthetic fields that has come into light in recent years is their inability to neutralize bacterial contamination in the natural way that grass does. Recently, athletic field managers have begun using bacterial disinfectants as often as twice a month on synthetic turf.
In the end, which is better for the environment? That is up to decision makers and parents to decide. Each has its drawbacks and benefits. One must also consider the expected longevity of each. Synthetic fields that are heavily used do not have an infinite lifespan. Natural grass with a proper maintenance program can be overseeded for many, many years; giving the turf potential for a long life.
What types of products are available to those who want to maintain natural grass fields in an environmentally friendly way? What are the pros and cons of these products?
There are more and more products coming into the turf maintenance marketplace every year that are friendly to the environment. More turf maintenance equipment is now available in an electric version, which reduces emissions. There are also dozens of organic fertilizers available. Another product is Turface, a heat treated clay that can absorb and hold moisture in your infield dirt, which will help you conserve water when maintaining your infield.
As with many consumer products, it can cost a little more to be “green;” however, using higher end products may cost more on the front end, but over time the results will pay off. For example, by using products with more slow release nitrogen, you can sustain healthy color longer and reduce your time on the mower.
Just one piece of advice: before you buy a product that markets itself as environmentally friendly, try and find out why and how it makes that claim.
In addition to product selection, what are some other ways to lessen the impact on the environment while performing field maintenance?
First of all, the responsible use of fertilizers is critical. Keep granular and liquid fertilizers from reaching hard surfaces where they will be washed into storm drains. When cleaning your equipment, wash it somewhere away from drains where chemicals as well as gasoline can be washed into a river or bay. Also, avoid applying granular fertilizer before any extremely heavy rain that could wash it into drains or catch basins.
The use of water in a thoughtful manner is also a critical part of running an environmentally friendly ballpark. To have quality infield dirt, you are going to need to soak it deeply from time to time. The best time to do that is late in the day or into the evening under the lights. The water you apply in later hours will not evaporate as quickly and you will use less water to achieve your desired result.
Another more important way to conserve water doesn’t cost you anything but your time. Setting your irrigation controller to water automatically for a fixed cycle 3 or 4 times a week may seem like a logical approach to field management. My approach is completely different. I make an educated decision each time I irrigate to apply a certain amount of water to specific zones on the field based upon many factors: weather, rate of evaporation, field use schedule and condition of the turf. All of these factors change daily. By manually programming my irrigation, I not only conserve water, I also give the field what it needs. It takes a bit more of your time to irrigate in this manner, but you will save a great deal of water every year and feel better about your field.
If a groundskeeper has a limited budget and wants to be environmentally conscious, what will make the greatest impact?
Two things that will give you a great field won’t cost you a dime. The first is a good work ethic. Field maintenance is something many of us in baseball enjoy, but there will always be times you are not motivated to work on your field. That is when you need to push yourself. If you get behind on things, you may never catch up. The goal is to stay ahead so that when factors you cannot control, such as weather, come into play, you are able to recover from those bumps in the road and move forward.
The second thing is the ability to work with your eyes open and understand the implications of everything you do. Each day on your fields, you make decisions both large and small that impact appearance, playability and the environment. Controlling the nutrients you apply to your field is directly related to your mowing schedule and water usage. Applying nitrogen high in salts increases your chance of tip burn and will increase your need for water throughout the soil profile. Too much quick release nitrogen means more time on the mower and potentially cutting too much turf at once.
What are the environmentally friendly methods of pest control?
By practicing integrated pest management (IPM), you can decide to be friendly to the environment. This means eliminating or minimizing the use of pesticides. Only extreme cases of disease or insect invasion would warrant the use of pesticides under an IPM program. The goal is to think ahead, proactively, and manage your turf responsibly to have natural resistance to pests and weeds. In doing so, you may have to accept that your turf will not appear as pristine as Seattle’s Safeco Field or Dodger Stadium. Television has raised the bar for turf appearance and it is not realistic to expect a heavily used community diamond to always appear perfect.
What environmentally friendly field maintenance practices have gained momentum recently?
One product mentioned earlier, Turface, will improve your infield dirt in a big way. In addition to helping you save water, it will help you play through more rain and increase player safety. When worked 2 or 3 inches into your dirt profile, Turface will occupy pore space, reducing compaction in the dirt. While doing so, Turface will hold onto moisture and reduce the amount of water you need to apply to your dirt to keep it safe.
A recent advancement in the area of fertilizer is stabilized urea nitrogen. This fertilizer contains Urease inhibitors that stabilize nitrogen in two ways. First, the urea does not escape into the atmosphere through volatilization. Second, another inhibitor minimizes leaching of the urea into the soil. This allows you to apply just the right amount of fertilizer and have it work for your turf and not be wasted by escaping to the environment.
If you could dispel one myth about field maintenance and the environment, what would it be?
One of the biggest misconceptions about field maintenance at the professional level is the idea that we are constantly throwing chemicals and pesticides onto our fields. By my third season in the minor leagues, I was comfortable enough in my ability to grow turf that I stopped using weed control altogether. Proper mowing, watering, feeding and overseeding will allow your turf to compete with weeds and keep them from developing on your field. (If, however, you do see some weeds, just grab a large screwdriver and pop them out of the ground rather than using a chemical product.) Being familiar with your field allows you to minimize pesticide use. For instance, rather than applying insecticide for grub control, know the history of your field and evaluate whether grubs are a big problem. Sample your soil in random areas. The occasional grub will not destroy your field and perhaps you can eliminate a pesticide application.
Do you have any final thoughts for those who care for youth baseball and softball fields?
One thing I can’t stress enough is the human element to all of this. Walking your field and constantly evaluating it will give you a daily image in your mind of what state your field is in. This can be accomplished when mowing as well. Instead of focusing on the music you are listening to while mowing, look closely at your turf and make productive use of your time.
By simply using common sense and caring about the small environment you maintain, you can in turn be a positive influence on the earth and the environment we all must share.
About Larry DiVito:
Larry DiVito began in professional baseball in 1995 as Head Groundskeeper of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. After seven seasons there, he moved on to become Grounds Crew Supervisor for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he worked for four seasons. In 2006 Larry became Head Groundskeeper for the Washington Nationals and Major League Soccer’s DC United at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. Since 2009, Larry has served as the Head Groundskeeper of the Twins’ Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Musco Lighting, Inc. – BTF Preferred Provider – http://www.musco.com/ASA12_1/images/commonQuestions.pdf
J&D Turf – BTF Preferred Provider – http://janddturf.blogspot.com/
Diamond Pro – BTF Preferred Provider – http://diamondpro.com/ (Click on Resources)
The Toro Company – BTF Preferred Provider – https://www.toro.com/en/customer-support/help-center-turf-tips
Stabilizer Solutions – BTF Preferred Provider – http://www.stabilizersolutions.com/downloads/
Penn State Center for Turfgrass Science – http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/athletic-fields
University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences – http://turf.missouri.edu/stat/baseball/
American Sports Builders Association – http://www.sportsbuilders.org/fields/articles.cfm
Sports Turf Managers Association Knowledge Center – http://stma.org/knowledge-center
SAFE Foundation – Field Safety Checklist Videos – http://stma.org/the-safe-foundation
Murray Cook’s Field & Ballpark Blog – http://groundskeeper.mlblogs.com/2012/02/27/tips-on-designing-a-professional-baseball-field/
Sports Turf Managers Association – www.stma.org
American Sports Builders Association – www.sportsbuilders.org
Sports Fields: Design, Construction, and Maintenance 2nd Edition – http://www.amazon.com/Sports-Fields-Design-Construction-Maintenance/dp/0470438932
Sports Field Management Magazine – http://www.sportsfieldmanagementmagazine.com/
From the BTF Field Construction Archives: Q&A with Bill Barkshire, Barkshire Laser Leveling (2009)
What is grading and where does it fit into the construction timeline of a baseball field?
Simply put, grading is the process of leveling a land surface to a desired or horizontal gradient by cutting, filling and smoothing. Proper grading starts during the design phase to ensure that the field is properly surveyed and staked followed by a properly constructed and leveled sub-grade. After the drainage system is installed and each layer of project-specified root zone materials is properly placed, the irrigation system is installed. Now is the time to complete the finish grading of the turf and playing surfaces. Sodding/seeding can begin at this stage while grading of skinned areas and tracks are completed to match turf.
How often should a baseball field need to be re-graded?
If the ball field is correctly installed, the grade should hold for many years through proper maintenance. To maintain the integrity of the original grade, schedule your laser leveling contractor for yearly laser topdressing to float the surface to fill low spots and ware areas. Annual skinned infield laser grading is a cost effective way to also prevent lips from developing and fill low spots from heavy play areas around the position areas. This is a great time to add new material and/or amendments as well.
What is laser grading?
Laser grading is a process of smoothing materials or surfaces to a desired slope or tolerance through the use of a machine controlled leveling blade. Technically, a laser transmitter mounted on a tripod emits a thin beam of light that rotates 360 degrees creating a grade reference over the work area. The laser receiver, which is mounted on a mast attached to the leveling blade, detects the laser beam’s elevation and sends the information to an on-board computer which in turn sends signals to the hydraulic valve, which controls the lift cylinder(s) of the blade. The valve raises or lowers the machine’s cutting edge according to the signals, thereby maintaining correct elevation.
How does laser grading differ from regular/rough grading?
Laser grading uses machine control components to establish tighter tolerances for slope or finish grade while regular/rough grading typically uses manually controlled equipment to approximate grade to survey stakes or hubs. The term rough grading is sometimes used to describe grading of base or sub-grade materials by larger earthmoving equipment. We recommend laser leveling be used in all phases of the construction process from sub-grade to gravel to root zone materials. An ideal profile will have each layer evenly distributed throughout. Unfortunately, when the base levels are not laser graded, the root zone may vary up to several inches across the project area creating an uneven growing surface.
Why is laser grading important/recommended?
Improved field agronomy, including control of thatch and fertilizer efficiency, can be achieved due to even distribution of irrigation, smoother mowing surfaces and proper drainage. A properly laser graded field will provide a smoother playing surface, decreased standing water, increased playability, fewer rain delays, decreased potential for injuries, fewer bad ball bounces, and reduced holes or settling in heavy play areas. Our clients regularly report that their fields are playable after heavy rains while their competitors are postponing play. Annual maintenance is needed to re-establish grade due to improper dragging practices and routine addition of amendment materials.
How much time is generally needed to complete laser grading?
Laser grading project timelines will depend on the scope of work, field conditions and the type and quantities of material being level. For planning purposes, we typically schedule 1 to 1 ½ days for a standard size skinned infield, while a full field renovation may take 1 to 1 ½ weeks. Down time for fields is very important to our clients so often we commit multiple operators and equipment to decrease the overall time needed. We have been known to work under the lights on professional fields to meet our client’s deadline. We don’t consider the project completed until all the edges are tied into the finished grade which often requires additional time for hand raking.
What type(s) of company provides laser grading services?
While many landscape and construction companies offer laser grading services, specialty laser grading companies are experts in this process. We have operators that do this work daily and have developed the skills and techniques to achieve the best results. In our case, we found that equipment available for purchase did not satisfy our service standards. We designed and built a unique free floating system which produced tighter tolerances, compacted surfaces and was easy to maneuver into tight corners and small work areas. In addition, operators are trained to manually control the blade as needed to match existing hardscape such as drains or pathways.
What information is needed about the construction project and about the laser grading company before scheduling the service?
Ideally, the project will be fully defined as to budget, project specifications, scope of work, timeline, material types and quantities, and topography/survey maps. However, many renovation projects are requested by individuals unfamiliar with construction or renovation practices and the project is defined on the spot during a consultation with your laser grader. It is critical that your laser company be willing to consult onsite to establish the scope of work and material selection. Use a contractor that specializes in laser leveling to ensure the equipment and its operator are best suited to your project. Be sure your contractor is licensed and insured, familiar with materials, willing to coordinate delivery of materials with vendors in your area, and has sufficient experience in the business to provide referrals. Experience is the key.
How is the cost of laser grading determined?
Often quotes are based on square footages to be laser leveled, however, depending on the scope of work; the price may be based on daily fees, hourly rates or price per infield. In addition, field preparation prior to laser leveling, such as rototilling/ripping may also impact the pricing.
San Clemente, CA
Before submitting a request to the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, thorough planning, fundraising and gathering of written cost estimates must be completed before the Detailed Project Budget and Budget Summary can be completed properly. If a grant is awarded for a project, the grant amount and terms of the grant will be based on the information provided in these documents, so it’s important that the information provided is complete and accurate.
The following tutorial is offered to provide assistance to those completing the BTF Online Application and supporting documentation.
Applicants must have at least 50% of the total project cost in hand before submitting a request to the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. The Budget Summary is intended to provide a snapshot of the matching cash and in-kind funding for the project. This document must be submitted with all requests to BTF.
EXAMPLE OF A BUDGET SUMMARY
SUMMARY OF SECURED AND OUTSTANDING MATCHING CASH FUNDS
- “Funding Source”- list the funders or donors that have committed cash to the project. You may group small donations from individuals or the proceeds of a fundraising event accordingly, such as “Individual Donors” or “Proceeds from April Fundraiser.” Large donations from major donors or budget allocations should be listed individually, such as “ABC Foundation” or “Municipal Operating Budget.”
- “US Dollar Amount”- enter the amount of cash that is in hand or is expected from each funder.
- “Check(x) if Secured” – enter an “X” if the cash or an executed, written agreement from the funder is in hand. Do not enter an “X” if your organization has not received the cash or does not have an executed, written agreement in hand.
- “If outstanding, expected decision date”- enter the month and year that you expect to have the funding or executed, written agreement in hand.
SUMMARY OF SECURED AND OUTSTANDING MATCHING IN-KIND FUNDS
- “Funding Source”- list the funders or donors that have committed in-kind funding to the project. The definition of in-kind funding is donated labor, materials or services. In other words, in-kind funding are donations other than cash.
- “US Dollar Amount”- enter the cash value of the in-kind funding secured or expected from each funder. We suggest that you use a current cost estimate (i.e. the retail cost; how much you would have to pay in cash) for the labor, materials or service to determine the cash value.
- “Check(x) if Secured” – enter an “X” if the in-kind funding is in hand, in progress or if an executed, written agreement from the funder is in hand at the time of the request.
- “If outstanding, expected decision date”- enter the month and year that you expected to have the funding or executed, written agreement in hand or if the work is completed or in progress.
Provide realistic information:
- Do not overestimate the amount of funding you expect to receive from a funder.
- Do not indicate that funding is secured unless you have it or an executed, written agreement from a funder in hand.
- Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take for funders to make funding decisions.
Detailed Project Budget
The Detailed Project Budget (DPB) is intended to show all elements (i.e. budget items) of the project and how each element will be funded (i.e. cash or in-kind, requested from BTF or funded with matching funds.) The DPB should reflect the total amount in US Dollars to be expended for each budget item over the term of the grant, including other budget items related to the project but not covered by or requested from BTF. The DPB is not intended to show specific funders for each budget item; therefore, do not list the sources of funding as budget items. This document must be submitted with all requests to BTF.
EXAMPLES OF DETAILED PROJECT BUDGETS
“BTF Grant Share” – in this column, specify how much is requested from BTF for each budget item.
“Applicant’s & Other Share – Cash” – in this column, specify how much in cash is being contributed to each budget item from the applicant or other donor(s).
“Applicant’s & Other Share – In-kind (Cash Value)” – in this column, specify how much in-kind funding is being contributed to each budget item from the applicant or other donor(s).
When listing the budget items, provide the quantities and costs per item or description of the work to be completed. Use good judgment when determining the level of detail. See examples of budget item descriptions:
WRITTEN COST ESTIMATES
- Written cost estimates/quotes from vendors, retailers or contractors must be submitted to support the information in the DPB. Each cost estimate must be dated and provided on the vendor/contractor letterhead or quote form.
- Copies of retail webpages with pricing are acceptable for equipment and uniform items.
FIELD-RELATED AND CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
- If the project is a part of or contingent upon a large construction project, the DPB and Budget Summary should reflect the entire construction project.
- Requests for field renovation and construction projects must include detailed specifications to describe the scope-of-work.
- If the request is for the renovation or construction of multiple fields, please list budget items BY FIELD.
- Please refer to the BTF evaluation criteria for examples of budget items eligible for BTF consideration.
- In the Budget Summary, do not include sources of funding that are not relevant to the project and that do not appear in the Detailed Project Budget. The information in the Budget Summary and the Detailed Project Budget should be consistent.
- For example, if the Budget Summary indicates a value of $42,000 of in-kind funding, the list of budget items in Detailed Project Budget should reflect $42,000 in in-kind.
- Each row and column in the DPB must have an accurate total.
- You may add rows to either form if needed or delete unused rows. Do not delete columns in either form.
Updated info now available regarding required photos for all field-related requests to BTF!
If you submit a request to BTF for a field-related project, the submission of photos with the request is required to show the condition of the existing field, field maintenance capabilities and/or existing site for a new facility. Photos of the playing surface are critical whether the request is for a field renovation, dugout construction, field lighting, etc.
Please refer to examples of photos required with all field and facility-related requests.
If the request is for an indoor facility or batting cage only (and does not include field renovations, construction, lighting, etc.), please attach 1-2 photos of the current facility or proposed site in the “Written Cost Estimate” section of the request.
To make this process easier for you to submit an effective request, please review this important information:
- One document (i.e. a pdf or Word document) with the photos may be attached to the request as opposed to multiple photo files…
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A non-profit organization needs to retain important paperwork for future use. Not every document generated needs to be retained; however, it is crucial for an organization to determine which documents and records to keep and for how long. This will make tax time and grant seeking easier.
Document retention can vary depending on the purpose of an organization, and since there are no set guidelines for all non-profits to follow, it is important to develop guidelines that fit your organization. Assign a Board or committee member to gather, organize and maintain the records, both hardcopy and electronically for easy reference.
Below is a list of documents with recommended retention for non-profits:
- Written document retention policy – ensures that staff follow consistent guidance about document destruction and that document destruction/deletion practices (Permanent)
- Articles of Incorporation – the primary corporate document (Permanent)
- Bylaws – the operating manual (Permanent)
- Minutes /Agenda – Minutes and agendas of all meetings (Permanent)
- Corporate resolution (Permanent)
- Annual Reports to Secretary of State/Attorney General (Permanent)
- Governance and management policies (Permanent)
- Records of governing body – executives, governing boards (Permanent)
Accounting and Finance
- Audit reports (Permanent)
- Financial statement (Permanent)
- General ledgers (Permanent)
- Checks for purchases/payments (Permanent)
- Gross receipts – donor correspondence, pledge, deposit slips, invoices, receipt books (Permanent)
- Accounts payable/receivable ledgers and schedules (7 years)
- Canceled Check (7 years)
- Bank statement/Bank reconciliation (7 years)
- Budget/Expense reports (7 years)
- Document(s) related tax-exempt status of the organization, and correspondence relating to the documents – Form 990, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from IRS (Permanent)
- Tax returns and worksheets (Permanent)
- Documents relating to determination of tax liability (Permanent)
- Employment tax records – federal income tax withholding, FICA tax (7 years)
- List of donors/grantors and the amount of cash/non-cash contributions or grants received from each (Permanent)
- Grant proposal/applications (7 years)
- Grant and donation records (7 years)
- Grant agreement and modifications (7 years)
- Correspondence related to grants (7 years)
- Grant reports (7 years)
- Deeds (Permanent)
- Current lease agreement (Permanent)
- Expired leases (7 years)
- Mortgages/Security agreements (7 years)
- Employee personnel records (permanent)
- Volunteer records (3 years)
- General correspondence (3 years)
Compliance Guide for 501(c)(3) Public Charities. N.p.: IRS, n.d. PDF.
“Document Retention Policies for Nonprofits.” National Council of Nonprofits. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2015.
Document Retention and Destruction Policies for Nonprofit Organizations. N.p.: The Watershed Institute, Aug. 2010. PDF.
Fitzpatrick, Diana. “How to Form a New York Nonprofit Corporation.” Nolo.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2015.
ORGANIZATION RECORD RETENTION POLICY. N.p.: n.p., n.d. DOC.
RECORD RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION POLICY. N.p.: Colorado Nonprofit Association, n.d. PDF.
Silk, Thomas. “Model Document Retention Policy for Nonprofits.” Blue Avocado. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2015
‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ as the saying goes. Whether that notion is right or wrong, we can say that positive publicity for your youth baseball and softball program can help attract new participants, sponsors, volunteers and supporters.
The broad definition of Public Relations is “the management of communication between an organization and its publics.” For your purposes, public relations is any activity which generates positive messages in your community and program.
It is important to understand that public relations is distinguished from advertising by the fact that there is no charge for time or space over which messages are carried and there is less control over the way the messages are communicated.
Why is Public Relations Important?
Communicating successfully with the media can be cost-effective and a tremendously powerful way to promote your baseball and softball programs throughout the community and state. Increased media exposure for your program will help to increase player participation and charitable contributions to your organization.
The following tools and examples are provided to assist your public relations efforts. We have also included a fact sheet and a public service announcement format that can be used by your organization in local market media outreach.
Compiling a Media List
The first step in conducting media outreach is to develop a list of media contacts in your community. Media consists of three primary areas: (1) print – daily/weekly newspapers, local magazines; (2) electronic – Internet; and (3) broadcast – television (local affiliates) and radio. All of these outlets are located in your community. When compiling a media list for your local area, we recommend searching on the Internet or looking in your local telephone book for contact information. Most likely, only the main number will be listed, so ask to speak with different editors (i.e., lifestyle/features, calendar, sports, etc). Ask for their contact information and preference of receiving correspondence (i.e., phone, E-mail, fax).
Identify the following media outlets in your community:
- Daily newspapers
- Weekly newspapers
- Local magazines
- Television stations
- Radio stations
- Wire services
At each daily newspaper, identify one or more from the following contacts:
- Lifestyle/Feature Editors
- Calendar/Events Editors – If you are planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony or other PR event.
- Sports Editors/Baseball Writers
- City Editors
- Photo Editors – If you are planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony or other PR event.
At each weekly newspaper, identify one or more from the following contacts:
- Lifestyle/Feature Editors
- Sports Editors/Baseball Writers
- Calendar/Events Editors
- Photo Editors
At each television station, identify one or more from the following contacts:
- Sports Directors
- News Assignment Editors
At each radio station, identify one or more from the following contacts:
- Sports Directors
- News Directors
- Public Service or Public Affairs Directors
- Identify the story and know the key points you want to get across.
- Identify spokespeople and key message points for each.
- Identify appropriate media to contact.
- Coordinate target media and pitching responsibilities.
- Provide “photo opportunity/visual” for broadcast outlets.
- Secure photographer/video crew at event and service media with photos/video if you conduct an event.
- Pitch media over the phone in concise manner – give them the “who, what, when and where.”
- Have press kits available at event. A press kit can be a simple folder that includes your press release, a brochure about your program and a player registration form.
Download press release templates or search online for more helpful templates:
- Set an agenda. It should consist of three or four key points that can be integrated into your answers throughout the interview.
- Take charge of the interview. Answer questions posed by the reporter and continue on to items on your agenda. Don’t wait for the interviewer to bring up convenient questions; it may not happen.
- Tailor your answers to the type of interview by knowing what will be expected of you and how the interview will be used. Will it be live or taped? Will you be the focus or are you to be included in a larger story?
- Organize the points you want to make, feel free to use index cards if you don’t trust your memory (for rehearsal only, never during the actual interview).
- Always use simple sentences and sum up a complicated answer in a few short sentences.
- Play it straight; be truthful. A minor misrepresentation can become a major problem and destroy your credibility.
- If you don’t have the answer to a question, offer to check with the appropriate source and advise the interviewer as soon as possible.
- Structure answers with a headline, basic facts and elaboration, so if you are interrupted the most important information is not lost.
- Don’t use jargon or technical language the audience is unlikely to understand.
- For correct on-air I.D., check that the reporter has the correct spelling of your name and your proper title.
- Never argue with the reporter – You will probably lose.
- Maintain good posture.
- Be yourself – Relax and be conversational; an interview is not a speech and confidence ensures effective communication
- Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer and be energetic and enthusiastic.
Though baseball and softball-only fields are ideal, many youth baseball and softball leagues are forced to share fields with other sports due to a lack of facilities and funding. In these cases, proper field maintenance is even more critical. In particular, the fall season, when football often overlaps with fall ball, presents a unique set of field maintenance challenges. To get some insight on the subject, BTF interviewed two groundskeepers that have quite a bit of experience with multi-use fields: Alan Sigwardt, Senior Director of Grounds for Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes ; and Clay Wood, Head Groundskeeper for the Oakland A’s, who share the O.co Coliseum with the Oakland Raiders.
You are both professionals and have access to specialized equipment and products, not to mention a large amount of man-power and man-hours. What advice would you give to a youth league volunteer that has to maintain a multi-use field? Alan Sigwardt: Proper water amounts. Make sure sprinklers are functioning properly and aimed correctly. Keep dirt level. Fill all holes and low spots so that water puddles are kept to a minimum. Rinse or broom dirt from grass edges on a regular basis to keep from getting large lips on grass edges. Keep dirt areas damp as much as possible so it does not get dusty and blow away with the wind. Clay Wood: Focus the time, money and materials that you do have on the areas that incur the most damage from the other sports. Always keep your infield dirt, mounds and home plates safe and playable and try to keep your dirt to grass edges clean and level.
How does maintaining a multi-use field differ from maintaining a baseball/softball-only facility? AS: You will experience much more turf damage when using the field for football or soccer. CW: You will have an inordinate amount of stress and damage on your turf. An aggressive aerating and topdressing program may help minimize turf damage. I would suggest aerating and topdressing at least twice per year on multi-sport fields or as much as possible.
What specific challenges are posed by multi-use fields? AS: When you experience heavy rains that flood or cause your baseball field to become muddy, a football game can cause significant damage to the field. Baseball turf gets torn up by football players. Baseball dirt is not conducive to the playing of football. Both sports suffer. CW: The main challenge is keeping the field safe for all sports played. Everyone involved must work together for anything to happen. Scheduling use for practices and games must be coordinated, along with a maintenance/preparation schedule.
Which playing surface is the hardest to maintain on a multi-sport field, the turf or infield? AS: The infield dirt is much more difficult and time consuming to maintain than the turf. CW: Both present challenges. The grass is a living, breathing plant and undergoes tremendous stress during football and soccer and needs recovery time. The infield dirt can get very sloppy and chewed up but it can be dragged and rolled over and over to regain its shape and playability.
How do artificial and natural turf fields differ in terms of multi-use maintenance? AS: Artificial turf is almost maintenance free, but poses many other problems, injuries, excessive heat, drainage, etc. CW: Artificial turf does require some maintenance, but it does not require the extreme recovery time and maintenance of natural turf.
Most youth leagues aren’t able to install artificial turf. What advice do you have for leagues caring for multi-use fields with natural turf? CW: Try to keep your field safe and level by filling divots and holes with sand or topsoil. Again, the importance of aerating and topdressing cannot be understated for good footing and a safe, level playing surface.
Which is more important, proper preparation or recovery and why? AS: Proper preparation is always more important. Proper preparation will prevent many problems from appearing during a game. CW: Preparation! Proper preparation will hopefully help minimize damage and recovery time.
When different sports use the same field, there is often very little time in between games and practices. How much time, ideally, do you recommend between field uses? AS: There is no ideal time. But there should be a minimum of one full day (for preparation) between different sports. CW: Maintenance time is use specific and varies for all sports. I recommend every entity involved with the multi-use fields get together once a year and develop a master schedule for use and maintenance. Everyone needs to decide what prep and maintenance is required and make sure that schedule allows for it, maintenance is absolutely critical.
Are there any products or techniques that will reduce the wear and tear on an outfield that is used by sports like football and soccer? AS: There are no products or techniques to reduce wear on turf. The most important thing to reduce wear on a grass field is proper drainage. The stronger and healthier your turf is, the less wear you will experience. Remember the three most important aspects of any sports field are drainage, drainage and drainage. CW: Aerating and topdressing will help. You may also try topdressing high use/wear areas (hash marks/goal mouths) with crumb rubber (ground up tires). This product, when used correctly, can help protect the crown of the plant from cleat damage and therefore speed recovery time. This product must be worked down into the turf, it is black in color and will raise soil temperatures where applied.
Are there any tricks to help prevent field damage caused by other sports? AS: There are no tricks to prevent damage other than do not play on muddy or flooded field ever. This causes more damage than anything else. Damage must be repaired. One of the most helpful things you can do for your park is to find a good source of quality sod to repair your wear areas. CW: My advice would be to control the moisture in your turf when playing football and soccer. It is always easier to add water versus remove water. When playing other sports on infield dirt surfaces try to keep the dirt moist but not too wet and always drag the dirt right after a football or soccer game.
The ability to have a consistent water supply is critical to field maintenance. All turf will need water, or irrigation, for establishment, growth and repair. If nature does not provide rain in sufficient amounts, water must be provided. Installing an automatic irrigation system should be one of the highest priorities in any field renovation or construction.
How to Select the Irrigation System That’s Right for your Field
Q&A with Jim Laiche from The Toro Company, a global leader in turf maintenance equipment and precision irrigation systems
Q: Please briefly explain the common types of irrigation systems used on youth baseball and softball fields.
Jim: Irrigation systems range from manual watering using water reels to quick-couplers to complete underground automated systems controlled by computers and sensors.
|Type||Description||Cost of materials (range)|
|Water Wheel||Water wheel units have either turbine driven or gas power engines that power the flow of water and drive mechanism to pull in the hose. These units generally dispense large amounts of water and are time consuming, requiring significant labor to set up hoses.||$5,000 – $15,000 (Estimate)|
|Quick Coupler||Quick couplers are “live” direct hook ups to a direct water source. These can be placed in various locations to supplement an irrigation system or as main source of water. A hose is connected to a key and is manually inserted to start the flow of water through a hose or hoses with a sprinkler attached. This type of system requires a pump to supply water.||Depends on size and scope of project. $5,000 – $20,000|
|Automatic System||An underground system that provides water through heads controlled through a central controller.||Depends on size and scope of project. $10,000 – $50,000|
Q: What should an organization consider when deciding which type of irrigation system to install?
Jim: It is important to understand the size of the complex and the type of surface that will be watered. If you have diamonds, do you want to have a zone that waters the infield as well as the grass areas? If you have infield skin areas being watered, they need to be controlled differently than the grass areas. The watering areas of the field need to be defined. Look at the micro-zones within your field areas. There may be a need to regulate water usage in these micro-zones. If so, you will need to design the system so that you can control the irrigation heads more precisely. This will require an understanding of the type of grass, the soil structure and the climate in which you are working.
Some fields are designed and installed using wall-to-wall irrigation. This means that all edges are covered with part-circle heads, and there is a very precise application of water to the playing fields. Another option is to design and install the system using primarily full-circle heads in the outfields and edges. This reduces the total number of sprinkler heads but causes some overthrow of irrigation water beyond the playing surface.
Manual systems will require time and labor to maneuver irrigation devices in strategic areas to provide water to the surface. Automated systems will cost more but will allow for more precise watering, preserving the resources used.
Maintenance on irrigation system is a must! Heads will need to be cleaned to make sure proper watering patterns are maintained to provide uniformity. Valves and filters will need to be checked for debris. Depending on water sources and equipment, maintenance may be required more frequently.
Q: What is the important information that an organization needs to know about the water source available at the field location before installing, replacing or repairing an irrigation system?
Jim: You must be concerned with a few things regarding the water source. What is the water source? Is it a well pulling from a retention pond, are you pulling from a potable water source or are you using reclaimed or “dirty” water? Each of these sources will bring different aspects to how a systems needs to de designed as well as regulations that may need to be followed. Water sources are becoming more of a commodity in some areas of the U.S. due to drought conditions. Those areas restrict water usage and require strict system controls to monitor the amount of usage.
Once a water source is determined, then you must also consider the water supply needed. This will be determined by the necessary watering windows. To simplify this, if you have three heads on a zone that require 10 gallons then you will need thirty gallons of water for that zone. If you have 10 zones that need to run in a cycle, then 300 gallons of water will be needed for each run.
Proper water pressure is also essential to the operation of the irrigation system. On a potable source, the static water pressure will be from the city water main. On a well or a pond using a pump, the pump horsepower creates the water pressure into the system. Athletic field sprinkler heads usually operate best at around 60 to 80 pounds per square inch at the sprinkler head.
Q: What type of maintenance is required for each type of irrigation system? What should be done in the spring and in the winter to properly maintain the irrigation system?
Jim: All underground irrigation systems need to be inspected periodically through-out the season to check for breaks, leaks or other damage to the system. During a spring start-up, all of the valves should be cycled through with a close inspection of all sprinkler heads. The sprinkler heads should all pop-up and down completely and rotate to the appropriate arc settings. Malfunctioning heads should be replaced and sprinklers out of adjustment should be reset to the desired pattern. In colder climates, the irrigation systems should be winterized using low to medium pressure air injection. Each irrigation valve is turned on and air is blown into the system until all the water ejects from the last sprinkler head on that irrigation zone. This is done through-out the system. In some climates, it is also necessary to remove the backflow device and store it over the winter. Irrigation controllers can be left on over the winter.
Q: How do you know when an irrigation system must be replaced rather than repaired?
Jim: If the repairs are needed to the infrastructure to the system, e.g. pipe, fittings, wires, valves, you should consider replacing the system. Sprinkler heads and certain valve parts are commonly repaired based on the level of use.
Q: What signs should you look for that there is a problem with the irrigation system?
Jim: Most irrigation systems will give managers a visual sign of troubles. If a head stops rotating you may have lush green grass in a certain area and brown in another. If you have a poorly designed system or low pressure problems where you do not get proper head to head coverage, you may be able to see circle patterns throughout your fields. Keep your eyes open!
Irrigation Tips to Remember:
Watering thoroughly to allow the water to soak deeply is required. Deep watering encourages deep root growth. Frequent shallow watering encourages shallow surface roots, compactions, crabgrass and other weeds.
It is possible to over water a field. Grassy weeds such as nut sedge may appear. Over watering also limits the oxygen supply to the turf and may cause yellowing which can create turf that is susceptible to disease.
A soil probe should be used to check the depth of moisture saturation. A soil probe can be purchased from local lawn and garden stores. It is a very valuable tool used to pull small cores of soil from your field to check root depth and moisture.
An irrigation system is an engineered system. It is made up of a variety of components that can be selected and engineered to work together with the environment for the best outcome for the field, it’s users and owners. Though systems can be purchased as “design build,” professional engineering should be considered to optimize return on investment.