Proper end-of-season equipment collection saves leagues time, money

By Will Heckman-Mark | Posted 10/23/2014

That sad time of year is approaching where there is no “next week’s game.” Youth football season is coming to an end, which means it’s time to hang up the helmets, pads and cleats for the winter.

Leagues should collect equipment promptly and properly to save money and to keep intact all of the items children will need to reach their full potential next season.

Will Dunmore is the director of operations for the Mid Maryland Youth Football and Cheer League (MMYFCL) and the recreation supervisor for Howard County’s Recreation and Parks department. He oversees the equipment collection process for his league and said communication is a vital first step.

“We send out emails, have the coaches and team administrators relay the information and send out messages to parents,” Dunmore said. “We usually have two or three different equipment return dates. The first one is seven to 10 days after the regular season ends, the next one is usually the week after the league Super Bowl games, and the final one is usually in early December.”

Some leagues find that having players turn in equipment immediately after their last game is the best approach. For others, they bring players and parents back at a later date. Either way, returning equipment to league facilities as soon as possible is vital because the later it gets into the offseason, the more people have moved on to other things.

“It’s important to get the equipment back as soon as possible while football is still in the front of their minds,” Dunmore said. “Once people move to winter sports and activities, it becomes tougher to track them down and get them to return it.”

In the MMYFCL, there are both immediate and long-term financial consequences for a league not receiving all its equipment at the end of the season.

“Everyone is required to turn in a deposit check that is postdated when they are first issued equipment,” Dunmore said. “If they do not turn in the equipment, we cash their check and flag their account so they cannot register for another athletic program.

“If (equipment) is not collected, then your program will find itself ordering more and more equipment every year, which places a major financial burden on the program and can prevent them from ordering other equipment they might need. If it cannot be cleaned and stored correctly, the program will also find themselves replacing equipment and uniforms a lot sooner than it should be.”

Dunmore said that helmets are a particularly important item to collect because they have to be shipped to another facility in February to be inventoried and reconditioned every two years.

He says the equipment’s storage environment also is important. His league uses climate-controlled trailers and storage units, where “most of the pants and jerseys are kept in storage bins. Helmets and shoulder pads are kept on racks.”

League coaches and administrators need to clearly communicate with parents their expectations for when equipment needs to be returned. This will save these league officials the time and effort of needing to track down old equipment and order new equipment. It also saves money for the league and its families.