Yes, my darling daughter (DD) played fast pitch softball practically her entire life (she’s twenty now), and during that time, I learned (mostly through trial and error) the best equipment for her and me. That’s right, parents. If you want to be comfortable and happy while supporting your DD in her pursuit of the perfect game, you too need to have the best equipment. It’s not all about your DD’s equipment, you know! After all, we parents sit on the sidelines cheering our DD and her teammates in the same blistering heat/freezing cold/pouring rainy/humidity they are playing in. Can you say, “Swamp butt?”
Some families go to softball tournaments as families … with the bigs and the littles, mom and dad in tow. That’s not how we rolled at our home. Nope. I was my DD’s main driver/booster/food provider. My husband and our son had other events to attend. So I’m gonna tell you how our team rolled. You can modify (multiply, if you will) your “must have” equipment to encompass the number of people you have along as your DD’s cheering section.
Just to survive a softball parent needs four major pieces of equipment: a car cooler, a personal cooler, an awesome chair and a big-enough tote bag.
As Mom-in-charge I always kept with a large cooler on wheels in our SUV that held both my DD’s and my water, food, snacks and ice packs (ask me about my softball battle scars sometime; it isn’t always safe on the sidelines!). Depending on where the softball tournament (Google the address, then use Google Earth to scope out where the parking lot is in relation to your field number) was being held and how far the parking lot was from the actual playing field I would just wheel that cooler to the sidelines.
When I knew it was a hike to the field or I was going to an unfamiliar softball complex, I brought a much smaller cooler that I filled from the large cooler and slung that smaller one over my shoulder and carried it to the sidelines. It was my own personal “save me from starving/heat stroke personal frig! My fave cooler has a rigid plastic liner that makes it easy to clean AND I never ended up with leaky cooler water running down the side of my leg when I least expected it! Drippy Cooler + Softball Field Dirt = One Ugly Look. Note: Your DD will have (and should carry!) her own small cooler into the dugout with her; more on that in an upcoming post.
I sat for many hours as I watched my DD play, I tested and discarded many chairs before I found what I considered “the perfect” chair for any weather. I wore three of them out over the years. The chair has shoulder straps (which I wore like a backpack to the fields), cup holder, bug spray/sun tan lotion holder, and a roof (yes, roof!). I started a trend in my area with that chair … after the very same parents who made fun of me and my chair got tired of getting drenched in sudden downpours as they watched me flip my roof into action. I stayed dry and them? Not so much! Yes, the roof kept the rain off me, the sun off me and cut down on the wind blowing on me, depending on the time of year it was. And I didn’t need to hold a separate umbrella, which would have cut considerably into my ability to clap loudly for my DD and her team.
Now about that tote bag. I tried all different sizes. I knew what I needed — at a bare minimum — in that tote: In hot weather, I needed cash, tissues, chapstick, jacket, sun lotion, bug spray and my scoring pad/pencil (yup, I kept my head and heart in each and every game by diagramming the plays). In the cooler weather, I needed cash, tissues, chapstick, jacket/gloves/hat/small blanket, bug spray and my scoring pad/pencil. So my fall tote was a bit larger than my summer tote. I’m sure you have tote bags galore around your house. Stack your “must haves” and try to get them into the smallest sized tote possible to take to the field with you. And if you’re a Dad and don’t do tote bags? Drag out your old gym bags — you know, the ones you used to use before your DD started her travel softball career — and select the best size to hold your softball essentials.
If you take my advice and get a backpack chair, then carry your tote in one hand and balance your load by carrying your small cooler in the other hand. Believe me, you can develop back problems if you try to be a human pack mule and you have an unbalanced load. Being a softball parent isn’t for the weak of back.
Next up? What’s the best equipment for your softball star?
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