A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life


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Top 8 Tips for Being a Volunteer Social Media Account Manager

A couple of years ago, I wrote about why I would never be put in charge of the Community sign board. The real reason, frankly, was that there were not enough symbols in the letter box for all the cuss words I would want to use.

SignBoardLetters

Yeah, I’m gonna need a lot more of these symbols

Flash-forward to a few years later, when my oldest son entered high school and I joined the Athletic Boosters. There was a volunteer opportunity to up our social media cred with a more robust Facebook page and a new Twitter account.

Easy peasy. I just post game results from the paper, shout outs to alumni, and event announcements, right?

Wrong

Here’s what I’ve learned so far when it comes to being the volunteer social media manager.

Tip #1: Be careful about posting more than one image in your twitter feed

One of the Booster accounts for a county rival posted two photos on twitter that caused an awkward appearing ‘headline.’ The red oval is where the two photos ‘combined’ in the Twitter feed, resulting in overlaps of the actual headlines, and leading to the unfortunate looking “Urbana Girls Grab Oakdale Boys” ‘headline.’

Headline merge

Tip #2: Parents will never see the posts about their own kids, so get ready for the blow back

No matter how many times you mention a sport, there will be someone whose kid is on the team and didn’t see the post. My remedy for this? I go back to every instance of me posting about that sport and tag that parent in the comments. Enjoy your ridiculous uptick in Facebook notifications, friend.

Tip #3: Tag parents on Facebook posts

Actual Facebook messenger mail I received: “I see you tagged <name of parent> when you posted about <student athlete’s> name in the paper. You didn’t tag me when <my precious angel> was named in the paper. How can you remedy that?”

I thought of replying with: “Oh my word! I had no idea <your precious angel> was your child, since:  a) the school has over 1,000 students, b) I don’t know every damn kid in the school, and 3) I don’t know your family or kid at all. Perhaps if you’d join the Boosters for the mere $25 a year membership fee, it would jog my memory when it comes to tagging your ass in every post for <my precious angel>.

Instead, I responded with: Thanks for letting me know. We’re always looking for new members and volunteers – hope to see you at a Boosters Meeting in the future!

Tip #4: Tag students on Twitter posts

They love to see themselves tagged and will “like” and “retweet”. A lot. So will their friends when they see it.

Just know that you will probably have to wade through a whole bunch of …

  • @hotbod69
  • @bootygirl4U
  • @BIGlaxstick
  • @team_balls_out

…nonsense twitter handles to find some of these athletes. Hey kids – do yourself a favor and set up a handle that reads more like someone trying to impress admissions officers at colleges, and less like you are trying to impress your potential Tinder dating pool. Except for you, Jacob Wetzel. I love your handle: @wetzhispants

Tip #5: If you are posting daily athletic contest schedules, be ready for Mother Nature to %*@! with you

I hate snow and rain, which has impacted every sport so far this year, multiple times this year. Even the indoor sports. When school is cancelled due to weather, so are all after school activities. Then they get rescheduled. Over and over.  So, be ready if Mother Nature is having a bad day/week/month/season. You’ll get carpal tunnel keeping up with all the changes.

Tip #6: You are not in charge of the @Wendys or @UMBCAthletics accounts.

While it would be a life goal of mine to be the person in charge of either of these accounts (filled with humor and snark – and getting paid for it!) I am currently NOT in charge of an account like this:

UMBCWendys

I really only got snarky/funny twice. Once, when a cross-town rival taunted our football team at a game this past Fall. We had graduated amazing groups of senior football players in 2017 and 2018, including Jacob Wetzel – the 2016 County Defensive Player of the Year, member of the 2016 State Championship team, member of the 2017 Conference Champion team, and 2017 County Offensive Player of the Year, who is now at Old Dominion University. The student section from the other team brought a sign, and I snapped a photo and tweeted about it:

Wetzhispants

I give Jacob a pass on his Twitter handle; it makes me laugh every time I have used it

And the second time, when our girls soccer team was a State finalist, and a local business wished them well.

RoysStates

I know Wendy’s knows what’s up also, but there isn’t a Wendy’s in our community.

Tip #7: If a sports emoji is missing; get creative. Literally.

We are the blue and gold Lions. Every social media post for our accounts concludes with 💙🦁💛 and then the emoji for that sport. 

For the first year, there was no softball emoji, so I used a blue diamond, for softball diamond: 💙🦁💛🔷. For lacrosse, I used the net: 💙🦁💛🥅 .  I am totally geeked out that I can now use the actual emojis:

softball lax stick

 

 

We have a swim/dive team and I made a request for a springboard/platform dive emoji from Unicode. Basically, Unicode told me I have to create an image to submit for consideration.

Since I’m not a graphic designer, here’s my submission, Unicode: 🖕   How’s that for creative?

Tip #8: This is a volunteer gig, but one that matters to your community.

It’s tough, sometimes, to take the flack, to listen to the complainers, to always be asked for more of our time and energy.  However, I keep this in mind for all my volunteer work in the community:

Who was watching

💙🦁💛


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Being First Lady – Not As Cool As I Thought It Would Be

Our boys — now 13 and 14 — have participated for more than 8 years in organized sports through our local community organization, GVAA. We tried soccer briefly, but found our niche in the following areas: baseball (for the oldest in Spring/Summer), lacrosse (for the past three years for our youngest in Spring), football (for both in the Fall),  and basketball (for both in the Winter).

And we have volunteered our time (and money) in numerous ways:

  • Taxi driver: toting our kids (and friends of our kids who may need a ride) to practices, workouts, tryouts, games, tournaments, urgent care, and end-of-season parties.
  • Baggage handler: shoving any combination (depending on the season/sport) of coolers, camera bags, lawn chairs, pop-up canopies, smelly football pads, extremely heavy catcher’s gear bags, and lacrosse sticks that don’t @#$%-ing fit within the limited length of an SUV, to haul over countless miles. Only to unpack it once you arrive at your destination and drag it all what seems like 26.2 miles to the field. And — finally — fruitlessly try to repack the vehicle at the end of the day, cussing out your morning self for being so much more spatially aware than your afternoon/evening self who wants to know how the hell all this crap fit in the car less than 12 hours ago. (It’s obviously that souvenir tournament tee shirt we bought that put us over the edge).
  • Scorekeeper: score keeping is the easy part. The real work is dealing with the parents who ask you to “rethink” that error you assigned to their little superstar when he kicked the baseball instead of catching in it his glove. Or making sure you give their kid credit for the assist on the three-pointer, when it was actually an errant throw that bounced off their kid’s head and into the hands of the player who shot the basketball. 17_times_rolling_your_eyes_was_totally_acceptable__16_
  • Groundskeeper: over the years, we have cut more grass and raked more dirt than is quantifiable. We have helped shop-vac rain off of baseball fields, spread sawdust on wet fields, and paint lines on football and baseball fields. And our HOA wonders why we don’t have any free time to so much as paint our mailbox post.
  • Photographer: photography has become a hobby, and I take photos at many of my kids’ games. I take pictures of all the players and share them via private team groups on Facebook and Shutterfly. This includes baseball, lacrosse, football, and basketball. It also involves a lot of standing, crouching, walking/running the length of the field to get a great shot or catch up with the action. I’ve also been told at least once by a grandparent “you need to move because you are in my way and I can’t see the game” (Really? Because, I was here first, granny.). And at least twice, I was chastised because I “obviously favor some kids over others, because you don’t take nearly enough photos of my kid.” (well, then, buy your own camera and take your own photos, freeloader).
  • Coach: in the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category, this is probably the worst. No parent of a player is ever satisfied with: 1) the practice schedule, 2) the coach’s plans for skills that will be focused on during practices, 3) their kid’s playing time, 4) the fact that every game isn’t a home game, 5) weather-related delays, postponements, and reschedulings, 6) having to work the concession stand, 7) fundraisers being required in addition to the player registration fee, 8) the team mom’s blatant disregard for establishing a proper snack and drink schedule, 9) the end of season awards party menu, and 10) the fact that the grievance process has to start with the coach, who has already said he finds parental complaints to be totally unfounded and the result of “the petty BS of them trying to relive their childhood sports prowess through their kid(s), who would rather be watching Minecraft videos on YouTube than paying attention at practice.”
  • Food service worker: I consider any time spent working the concession stand, paying my penance here on earth. Because my delusional husband considers his groundskeeping (football)/scorekeeping (baseball and basketball)/coaching (basketball) work to be equal to food service work, I get stuck frying chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks, concocting walking tacos (don’t ask), smothering nacho chips and hot pretzels with cheese, waiting three minutes for a 6 year old to select what color of Gatorade they want when the line of customers is 20+ long, and — worst of all — making those damn sno-cones.Calm SnoCones
  • Philanthropist: I have supported the organization through player registration fees, in addition to all these other volunteer opportunities listed above. I have also purchased more pizza kits, cookie dough, coupon books, spirit wear, dance tickets, dine-around-town dinners, tournament tee shirts, food and drinks at the concession stand, drinkware, car decals, and team/individual photos than I can remember.

    New Pilot

    Now, we are road ready.

This year, after not much thought, my husband decided to run for President of the kids’ sports organization. For a small town of around 5,800 that pulls participants from 3 small elementary schools and one middle school, it seemed like a fabulous way to volunteer and give back to an entity that had provided so much fun and entertainment for our kids.

And he won! How fabulous that he’ll be able to help guide policy and programs to help future players and their parents through our tight-knit town’s offerings.

And me? I get to be First Lady. Here’s what wikipedia says about being the First Lady:

The position of the First Lady is unofficial and carries no official duties. The role of the First Lady has evolved over the centuries. The main role of the First Ladies, besides their private role as spouse, has been as host and organizer to the White House.[2] She organizes and attends official ceremonies and functions of state either along with, or in place of, the president.

The position is largely one of status, and First Ladies have held influence in a range of sectors, from fashion to public opinion on policy.

No official duties? Host and organizer of ceremonies and functions? Status? Influence in fashion? (we’re all going to get bling spirit wear, bitches!)

Lions Mom Bling

Lion sports mom – bling it!

And unlike that do-gooder Michelle Obama (who advocates for healthy families, higher education, and international adolescent girls education…BO-ring!), I can focus on my pet project, water conservation:

Tequila

Hot damn!

But, so far, being the First Lady is not really the life of glamour and prestige I imaged it to be. Why?

  • I don’t get a cool nick-name: Unlike FLOTUS, which sounds like a lush, tropical bloom with an aroma that transports you to an ethereal, peaceful place, my nick-name is FLGVAA (pronounced “flog-va”). Which sounds more like an S&M expert, with an unnatural leather/chain/pain fetish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I guess. You freaks.
  • I still have to keep my real (paying) job: According to wikipedia, since 2001, the president has earned a $400,000 annual salary, along with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and $19,000 for entertainment. My husband’s new presidency comes with an annual salary of $0, with a big, fat nothing else for expenses, travel, and/or entertainment. Unless we pay for it. Lame, huh?
  • We don’t get a break on volunteering: Our time as taxi driver, baggage handler, scorekeeper, groundskeeper, photographer, coach, and food service worker does not get reduced in any way. In fact, it will be even more obvious if we don’t do these things. So that doesn’t leave much time for all the potential highfalutin official ceremonies and functions of state. Seems I’ll need to continue to carve out plenty of time for all the lowfalutin crap I’m already doing. Yay.
  • And some volunteer roles are expanded: Like philanthropy. It’s not enough for us to purchase something from every fundraiser that gets dreamed up, and just call it a day. Now we have to show up for every “dine-around-town” and stay for the duration of the event thanking all the players, families and fans who show up to make a purchase for a percent of the proceeds going to our organization. If the Prez gets…say…’stuck at work late’ or ‘delayed due to bad traffic’, the First Lady has to fill in, greeting and thanking everyone. And for the fundraising dances, the First Couple can’t arrive fashionably late as has been their custom (i.e., at the point where all our friends are good and sauced) and then leave early (“to get home and make sure the kids aren’t trying to kill each other”). No. We have to show up early and stay until last call the event is over and everyone has cleared out.

All of this only means one thing — the FLGVAA’s water conservation program starts now. Bottom’s up, my people.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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All You Need Is Love

One of my former co-workers has two blogs she updates regularly. I’m such a slacker, with only two blogs that I update when something crazy happens in my life, or if I bake a treat.

June 1st, she issued a 30-day writing challenge. Being the non-procrastinating type that I am, I jumped right on the challenge. On July 1.  But at that point, Rita was only on challenge number 26 herself — seems we both have a little procrastinator in us.

The theme for July 1 is LOVE. So here’s what the theme inspired me to write about…

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

I only thought about the past week using the words ‘baseball’, ‘vacation’, and ‘work’. But I was decidedly wrong about that. My week was about love.

First it was the love of baseball. My oldest son Alex’s baseball team has been fundraising and preparing for the ultimate experience with a week-long tournament in Myrtle Beach at The Ripken Experience. The majority of this team has been together for 2 years — most have been playing together for more than 4 years. To hear the boys tell it, they were “getting to go on vacation with all of their best friends”.

The boys did well in the tournament, with a record of 3-2 in pool play. They made it to the championship bracket, but lost in an early game to a taller, stronger, and year-round playing team from Georgia.  Disappointed at being out of the championship round early didn’t deter them from life’s joy. They spent the rest of the day at a water park, enjoying a different kind of pool play with one another.  And three of the nights we were there, the team and their families gathered for group meals. We even had a surprise birthday celebration for of one of the team moms.

How could you not help but love these kids and families who are a great bunch of people?

Thank goodness it's not my kid with the sad face.

The 2014 12U GVAA Walkersville Lions.

I ended up leaving Myrtle Beach before the championship round because I had a work conference I needed to attend in San Francisco. The Friday we were in San Francisco, our colleagues back home were participating in a community volunteer day.  A co-worker and I decided that we would participate on the west coast by volunteering to feed the homeless and hungry. The organization is Glide — a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. They feed 700 people for the afternoon meal. Volunteers help serve meals, take tickets, and clean tables.

Because Glide must have heard about my lack of prowess in the cooking department, I was in charge of handing out napkins and silverware:

I think I'll use this as my entry in Playboy's next "hottest moms" contest.

Hairnet, apron, and gloves. I think I’ll use this as my entry in Playboy’s next “hottest moms” contest.

What I found humbling was that the individuals were so diverse. Some “looked” homeless. Some didn’t look homeless at all. Some talked to an imaginary friend as they went through the line. Some came through the  line multiple times, hanging their head in shame. Some brought their dogs and shared the meatloaf and rice with their best friend. One lady started a fight because she wanted to eat at a table by herself. The staff had to calm her down, and then they tried to make the volunteers feel better by saying it was no big deal. “You’re right,” I commented. “The Rice boys behave far worse than any of these folks.”

But almost every one of the people who walked through the door said “Thank you.”  Or “God bless.”  One guy even said “Hello, gorgeous.”  Hmmm…maybe I should send him my picture and enter his “hottest mom” contest.

What I felt after an exhausting and fast-paced two hours was a great deal of appreciation from both those served and the staff at Glide. It took no more than a smile, a hello, and handing someone a napkin with a fork or spoon to make them feel good.  How could I not love the feeling of warmth that my small kindness gave these people who have so little?

That weekend we were in San Francisco was also when the Gay Pride parade was going to take place. As I walked back from Macy’s on Sunday (having just had my own little love fest with the Michael Kors purse department), I walked past a guy with a t-shirt that very simply said Love is Love. And I saw these flags hanging outside the Hotel Nikko:

#PRIDE

#PRIDE

How awesome that a corporation uses the pride flag to let a group of individuals who have struggled for acceptance know that they are indeed loved?

So in the end, my week was not nearly as much about a vacation, a baseball tournament, or a work trip. It was about the love in my life, and why I should be more aware of it around me every day.