Things I've learned to bring to make life at the fields just a little bit easier - or less frustrating, as the case may be ;)

1) Large-ish Waterproof Tote Bag
South Florida is notorious for out-of-nowhere torrential rain storms. We experienced one during an unusually cold December while in Pembroke Pines. I was honestly waiting for the Wicked Witch of the West to go by on a broom at any second. Everything I brought - EVERYTHING - was soaked. Purse, money, phone... It was the worst tournament experience ever. Upon dripping our way home, I immediately went onto Amazon.com and purchased one. For under $15, you can get a pretty good bag. I bought this one:

Waterproof Tote from Amazon

And it's served me quite well thus far.

The tournament that started it all - Pembroke Pines, December 2010. There is a child in that pseudo tent, believe it or not!
2) An Array Of First Aid Items
You would be surprised how many times I said, "If only I had packed..." when one of the girls had an injury. These range from small cuts on pitching thumbs to pulsing blood blisters that needed to be pierced - and me without a safety pin. No more! I keep the items in small ziploc baggies in the waterproof tote. Generally:
a) A variety of bandaids in all sizes as well as first aid tape.
b) Children's Tylenol (chewable for the girls who WILL NOT swallow pills - ha).
c) Children's Pepto Bismol - for those revenge of concession food moments or just a few hours of nervous butterflies.
d) Safety Pin & Lighter - for blisters and the occasional splinter. After having to try to break one with a pair of nail clippers, I swore I would never be without one. The lighter is to sterilize the needle, of course.
e) Small pair of scissors - you just never know when they will come in handy.
f) Benadryl - In case of fire ants or bee stings.
g) Advil - the grown up kind. Sometimes coach gets a headache, too ;)

It should go without saying that you NEVER EVER give medicine to a child who doesn't belong to you. Whenever one of the girls asks for something, I walk over to their parent/guardian/adult supervisor to get an okay!

3) For Your Comfort
I almost never sit and watch a game - ask anyone. I am constantly all over the place taking pictures. My ten year old son, however, does not share my enthusiasm and requires a small plethora of items to keep him entertained and comfortable. This means that /I/ have to cart things back and forth. After a few weeks of shoulder pain, I finally got a simple little shopping cart to lug stuff around. It folds up flat, which fits nicely in the trunk, and - thus far - has withstood the beating it gets. I can fit two fold up chairs, a backpack cooler and an umbrella tent into that little sucker, plus my tote on top of all that. Sure, you look like a little old shopping lady, but aaaah - no more shoulder pain ;) This is the one I purchased:

Winnie Wagon from Amazon

Kyle in his chair and the Winnie Wagon all fit!
4) Since I mentioned chairs and an umbrella tent, tah dah. You can get fold up chairs pretty reasonably at any sporting goods store or Target or Walmart. After The Monsoon In Pembroke Pines, as I like to refer to it, and researching chair with attached umbrellas, I instead went with an umbrella tent (now affectionately called Camp Kyle). It has vent flaps and a killer SPF rating.

We ended up with the nine-foot variety, which means I have to put down the split seat in the SUV to bring it around. I wish we'd gone with the eight foot one, and directly from the site, because Sports Authority charged us $10 more. Ah well - lesson learned ;) Not only is it great for rain, but also for a bit of shade against the brutal Florida summer sun. It just pops open like an umbrella and stakes into the ground. It's so easy to use and I don't really have to worry about the wind knocking it over like with some umbrella chairs - or that Kyle will just bust it - ha.

Sport-Brella from their site.

5) Portable Charger
Nothing is worse than a 12 hour day at the fields, half an hour from home, and having your kid's iPod Touch (or portable entertainment system of choice) die on them. Often you can just use a car charger, but for those mile long walks from the fields to the car, a little portable version is the bomb.

I got the IOGEAR Black GearPower from Newegg.com (actually on sale for $14.99 at the time!) on the recommendation from a techy friend. There are others out there for varying prices, but I've been pretty happy with this one. I charge it up on the computer and it's been a nice save on those super long tournament days. It's a little smaller and thinner than an iPod Touch 4G, so totally portable.

There are a bunch of other things as well, of course: Lots and lots of water, a cooler to keep them and snacks in, sunscreen, a couple of towels/extra clothes/blankets in the car, etc. For now, those are my can't-do-withouts that don't always make the typical lists.


    Just a small collection of things I've learned to try to always have on hand for travel tournaments. I'll probably keep adding to it as my addled old brain remembers things ;)


    June 2011



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