The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Tustin Sports Park: For Play Days Under the Sun Shade !


by Michele Whiteaker

Tustin Sports Park is home to tennis courts, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a picnic area, and a SHADE-covered playground. Its bright red color makes it feel festive and happy. A number of families were there on a hot weekend morning when we visited. Thanks to the family who took the time to recommend this park (I marked their comments in quotes).

Location: Tustin Sports Park is very easy to find right off Interstate 5. Drive towards the foothills past the huge Tustin Marketplace shops. The park is a left turn onto Robinson plus a very obvious left turn into the parking lot. [Address: 12850 Robinson Drive, Tustin] MAP to Tustin Sports Park in Tustin

Recommended by: A Fun OC Parks Visitor


The “big play area with canopy” is definitely its biggest perk. No battling hot slides or overly sweaty kids.
It’s a “full sports park”
“Nice seating area with grills for picnics”
“Full walking/running path with distance markers”
My family loved the slides – steep, twisty, spiral, tunnel. All the fun ones!
2 bench swings and 2 baby swings (not under the shade cover)

Be Aware:

Some slippery spots from the sand on concrete and sand on recycled rubber
During large sports events/weekends, I can see this place would be packed with people.


Parking in a dedicated lot – no fee
Sand and recycled rubber play surface
Picnic area is set away from the playground
Very nice restrooms in the big building near the Express Sports Cafe
Drinking fountains near the restrooms and on the other side near the baseball diamond. Shade under the playground cover and over viewing benches
Easy to view kids from almost every angle.
I was told the vending machines don’t work. Every time the mom I spoke to tried them, she lost her $.
The Express Sports Cafe hours are M-F 5pm-8pm and Sat 10am-4pm.
Lighted tennis courts, lighted basketball courts, and lighted baseball diamonds.
Official City of Tustin website page for Tustin Sports Park
Nearest Public Library Branch: Irvine Katie Wheeler Public Library
Nearby “no TV” restaurants: Chik-Fil-A and In-n-Out are both nearby on Jamboree, but we often grab a sandwich from Sprouts Farmer’s Market deli and picnic at the park


Playing ball, having fun: Participation declines nationwide, but softball remains a big deal locally !

Burlington Recreation and Parks Department’s softball leagues have a strong tradition and continue to provide those seeking fitness an opportunity to play with others in the local community on several of the fields made available at City Park.
The department’s fall leagues kicked off Aug. 18 with 65 teams competing in several league categories. Recreation and Parks director Tony Laws has witnessed the evolution of softball league play since he started working for the department in 1968.
Laws said when he first came to work at the department there were softball leagues for men, women and churches. There were about 40 teams during that period in the late 1960s. The number grew to 150 softball teams during the next two decades.
Laws, who also is a state commissioner for North Carolina on the Amateur Softball Association, said beginning in the early ’90s the number of softball teams began to decline in Burlington, matching a nationwide trend. Fewer churches participated in the department’s leagues and the decline in companies, especially textile companies sponsoring teams, also played a part in the overall decline in the participation of softball.
“This was a textile town and every mill had at least one team,” Laws said. “The bigger mills had multiple men’s and women’s teams.”
How softball is strategically played has changed through the years as well.
Laws said composite softball bats replaced wooden bats. This placed less emphasis on defensive strategy because with composite bats players attempt to hit home runs on every swing.
Laws said the equipment used has outpaced players’ abilities to play the game. The composite bats made with synthetic materials increased ball speed coming off the bat and players sometimes have trouble making plays in the field.
“The defensive part has disappeared,” Laws said. “It’s an offensive game. Now, it’s just ‘see who can knock the ball over the fence.’ ”
Laws said a recent report issued by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers noted that participation in softball has declined nationwide in the past five years by one-third.
“That’s a big drop,” Laws said. “Lots of sports have peaks and valleys and right now softball is in the valley.”
According to Recreation and Parks athletics supervisor Jessica Hicks, the department’s girls’ fast-pitch league remains strong with high participation. Hicks said she believed this was due in part because colleges offer scholarships for girls’ fast-pitch softball, driving demand for girls’ fast-pitch softball leagues.
Hicks and Laws agreed that decline in softball leagues also has been driven by less emphasis on team sports. Hicks said many opt to participate in sports that are individualistic such as running, or extreme sports including rock climbing.
Laws said the Baby Boomer generation helped spur the popularity of softball in the ’70s and ’80s and they are now not as active in the sport. The current generation of youth is more into playing electronic games and staying indoors, he said.

The leagues currently offered by the department include men’s softball, co-ed softball, Friday night church softball and girls’ leagues. The department also offers women’s softball leagues, but there weren’t enough teams to form a league for women in the fall.
Hicks said the women’s softball league will return in the spring. Most league members are from Burlington and Alamance County with a few players coming from Durham, Chapel Hill and Greensboro to participate this fall.
Burlington will serve as host for an Amateur Softball Association (ASA) men’s senior slow-pitch national tournament at City Park during Labor Day weekend.
Laws said Burlington first held a national softball tournament in 1966. There was a break in the city’s being host of national tournaments until 1979, and since then the city has been host to national softball tournaments almost every year.
The department’s fall league will continue through October with softball games played every week. Laws said softball games today are watched mostly by those connected directly to the games, including family members.
“Softball in its heyday was a big spectator sport,” Laws said. “People just came out for the entertainment value.”
Laws said it wasn’t uncommon to see spectators with no connection to the teams come out to watch. Laws said there were really good teams then that people just wanted to see.


Ballfield – Post-Season Renovations, part 2 – Beacon Athletics

Courtesy Beacon Athletics -
It’s August and daylight is on the wane. The sun is coming up later and setting earlier. We are beginning to see a cool night make an appearance on occasion. And many baseball and softball seasons have wrapped up for the year. There will be some fall ball seasons played but football season will take the lead by the end of the month. That means many ball fields are done for the season so it’s time to get to it and get those fields ready for next spring.

Last month we talked about getting the grass back into shape after the season as well as dealing with any lip issues that may have developed during the season. Now, we move to the infield skin itself. This time of year is the best time to do any renovation on the infield skin whether it is minor or major. You have plenty of time to work on it without the threat of an opening day deadline and much more favorable weather and soil moisture conditions.

A season can take a toll on an infield resulting in ragged turf edges and high and low spots in the infield skin. Reestablish your turf edges by running string lines and scribing arcs to mark out where you need the turf edges trimmed back to in order to give the field some crisp, clean edges. If you find that trimming your baselines or infield edges are making those skinned areas too large, you may have to consider placing a strip of new sod in along the edges in order to reduce the width of the baselines or the size of the infield. This is usually inevitable over time where cool season grasses are grown. Southern grasses will grow much more aggressively into the skin areas and therefore trimming edges is a more frequent task where they are grown.

With the lips removed from your field and crisp clean edges reestablished, you can now use a string line to evaluate the condition of the surface grade of your infield skin. By stretching a string line from the front turf edge to the back turf edge of an infield, we can instantly see the condition of the surface grade of the infield skin. High spots will push the string up while low areas will leave a gap between the string line and the infield soil surface. When checking the grade, make sure that the string line is pulled as tightly as possible otherwise the line may sag providing incorrect readings of the surface grade. Take a survey of the infield by running string lines in several locations around the skin to check for the amount and magnitude of high and low areas on the skin. In general, high areas will typically occur on the first and third base corners of a baseball infield skin as well as along the back edge along the back arc. Low areas will commonly occur in leadoff areas around bases, fielder’s positions and the front edges of the infield skin.

It is important to rectify these issues as soon as possible as these imperfections in the surface grade of your skin areas can create major headaches in rainy weather when you are trying to drain the field. IF you are lucky, you have the budget to call in a sports field contractor to repair the surface grade and improve its performance. If not, this work can be done on a low budget basis by doing it the old fashioned way, by running string lines and using your nail drag, rakes and level boards to manipulate the surface by cutting the highs and filling the lows to achieve a smooth and consistent surface grade.

If you have historically had problems with the performance of your infield soil, an Infield Soil Test can be performed to look at the physical makeup of your soil. A test will expose any weaknesses in the make-up of your infield soil — Beacon can provide this service to you, contact us for more info. With the innovation of DuraEdge™ and FieldSaver™ “engineered infield soils” in the past decade, it has become easier and financially effective to fix most problem infield soils without pulling out the old soil in most cases. The late summer and fall season is a great time to make adjustments to your infield soil using these materials. A balanced infield soil and the perfect grade will provide you the ultimate playing surface.

Finally, I’d like to mention a common question I get here at Beacon. Customers will often call to ask me how to keep weeds out of their infields and warning tracks. You can spray Roundup (Glyphosate) or other non-selective herbicides onto these areas but more than likely the weeds will return. The best way to prevent weeds on an infield skin or warning track is to continue maintaining the surface by dragging it about twice a week. This should be done throughout the remainder of the growing season. It will also keep the field smooth for surface drainage. There really is no other magic way of suppressing those weeds


Project Services Group

– Paul Zwaska is the former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles; You can learn more at Groundskeeper University.


Is a League Liable for Faulty Sports Equipment ?

Concerns regarding older equipment
We received a phone call from a youth lacrosse club coach who was concerned about the use of 20-year-old helmets that haven’t been reconditioned or re-certified. He wanted to know if he could be liable in the event of a head injury to a player since it his responsibility to verify to the referee prior to the game that all equipment is in safe operating condition. He also wanted to know if his General Liability policy would cover any potential lawsuit.

The short answer is that league administrators and coaches are responsible for the following aspects of equipment safety:
Long-range planning for the repair, refurbishment, and replacement of helmets. These decisions need to be made far in advance as they can take time to budget and complete.
Confirming helmets meet current National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) requirements, as well as the requirements of the sports governing body.
Helmets should be inspected for defects in post season, pre season, weekly, and prior to any game or practice.
Maintaining repairing, and conditioning equipment on a regular basis.
Reconditioning to “like new” basis of safety equipment such as helmets should be performed by a reputable reconditioning business as opposed to an on staff trainer. NOCSAE may require re-certification.
Replacing helmets on a periodic basis per manufacturers recommendations.
Record keeping for documentation purposes on all of the above.
There is no doubt that many of the above outlined principles may have been violated and the coach is justified in his concerns about liability.

General Liability generally don’t have an exclusion for lawsuits arising from of injuries due to failure to follow proper equipment safety protocol as outlined above. Therefore, coverage is likely to exist under most policies. However, a minority of policies may have a punitive damages exclusion. Willful disregard of known safety protocol could result in punitive damages. In addition, any litigation, even if covered by General Liability insurance, results in a black eye for the program and pretrial discovery and litigation is an emotional drain on league administrators and coaches.

For a more detailed resource on Equipment Safety, see our Risk Management Program For Sports Organizations

Amateur sports officials deserve respect, not abuse !



In any sport or activity, there are rules, and rules need to be enforced.

You can’t trust players on the team to enforce rules, as arguments would break out over minor inconsistencies, and it would lead to allegations of bias. Having a coach trying to officiate the rules would lead to a similar situation.

So, there is no choice: You have to have a referee or umpire on the ice or the field to enforce the rules as an impartial, third party.

A lot of times, they keep the game going smoothly, they make the calls and they’re fair and correct. Coaches, players and fans stay respectful and do not question or criticize the calls.

However, exceptions exist.

There are the games when the calls are not going one of the teams’ way, and the referees and umpires will hear about it. From coaches and fans. Some of these comments get nasty really quickly, jumping from “do you need your glasses checked?” to “How much is the team paying you to make these calls?” to comments that can’t be printed in any newspaper.

Who would want to be a sports official these days, considering the abuse heaped upon them.

We’ve may have all become angry at a questionable call during a game, but yelling, cursing and screaming at the ones trying to keep order in the game doesn’t help anyone at all.

Most referees and umpires do not do their jobs for the money. Calling a game for a few hours doesn’t pay the bills. Rather, it is something these men and women are doing on their own time because they enjoy the game. Many have been involved in sports for years, and this is a way to keep in touch with the sport they enjoy and help grow the game.

Referees and umpires are required. Otherwise, leagues fold. Yes, bad calls may be made, but we have to remember, these officials are human beings. They make mistakes, just like everyone else. They may believe the call on the field is correct. You may think otherwise. Just bite your tongue and move on, and make it up on the scoreboard.

This comments hurled at officials means it is hard to find new ones to take their place. Nobody is going to want to do a job where they get screamed at and made to feel like garbage if they make a mistake. It doesn’t allow the game to grow at any level.

It’s been said before, but officials in the games deserve our respect. Yes, mistakes are made, but a blown call is preferable to not having a sports league at all.

(Charles Lefebvre is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to


Is Your Team/League Adequately Insured ?

Find out with our minimum requirement checklist:

How do you know for sure that your team/league sports insurance policies provide the coverage you need to protect against devastating lawsuits? Many local insurance agents and even so called sports insurance specialists are guilty of offering inadequate coverages.

Minimum standards for sports insurance have been set by a sports insurance expert, risk manager, and attorney John Sadler of Sadler Sports And Recreation Insurance. These standards are outlined in two separate checklists, one for private teams/leagues that purchase their own insurance one for teams/leagues with insurance provided by a municipal recreation department. Both our Sports Organization Insurance Checklist and Municipal Recreation Department Insurance Checklist can be found on our risk management page.

Sports administrators no longer need to frustrate themselves trying to determine what coverage and limits are necessary. They can simply submit the checklist to their insurance agent for completion. The insurance agent then checks off whether each standard has been met and signs his or her name.

Once the completed checklist has been received, administrators then can decide what to do based on the results. If your team/league hasn’t met the the mandatory standards, your insurance agent should remedy the problem or you should find a new insurance agent who can offer policies that meet the minimum standards.

Visit our team and league insurance page for more information on coverage or to get a quote. Or call us at (800) 622-7370!

Copyright 2014, Sadler & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.


Grounds Keeping 2014 !

Groundskeeper University

It’s the perfect tool for teaching new staff, league volunteers, and summer help. And now you can get FREE ACCESS.
Training staff year after year can be exhausting. This intuitive online training tool teaches the tried & true techniques they’ll need to become productive members of your on-field staff. Learn more about Groundskeeper U, or get FREE ACCESS NOW with this exclusive one-time offer ($59 value, valid thru August 15).

Please Visit Beacon’s Link Below:


Gilroy Sports Park Rules !

Multi_sports_complex_1 Gilroy Sports Park

Rules of Conduct

1 – Keep it Clean.
Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.

2 – Don’t Threaten or Abuse.
Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.

3 – Be Truthful.
Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.

4 – Be Nice.
No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.

5 – Be Proactive.
Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

6 – Share with Us.
We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

National Association of Sports Officials President on the Michigan Soccer Referee Tragedy !

Barry Mano headshotBarry Mano, President of the National Association of Sports Officials and Publisher of Referee magazine, has unique insights into the tragic death of Michigan soccer referee John Bieniewicz, who died Tuesday following an alleged assault at the hands of a player on Sunday. The following is his column that will appear in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

Searching for a Red Card

There are days you just want to stop. You want to say: “The hell with all of this.” Tuesday, July 1, was one of them. That is when we received word that John Bieniewicz, a much respected Michigan soccer official, had died from a blow to the head delivered by a player on the cusp of ejection. John reportedly never saw the punch coming. He was looking down in the process of pulling out his red card. Sadly, the last thing he might have seen in this life is that red card.

Only one year earlier all of us in this industry found ourselves in a similar state of shock, sadness and anger over the death of soccer referee Ricardo Portillo in Utah. The facts of that case are utterly similar to what just took place in Michigan. Copycat events, both with the same horror for an ending.

The Portillo case was stark and it led to the media’s endeavor to tell the story. We did an in-depth feature on it in our August 2013 issue. In the July 2013 issue, I devoted my monthly Publisher’s Memo to the tragedy of Ricardo Portillo. I just reread that piece, and frankly, I could just change Ricardo Portillo and John Bieniewicz and run that Memo here and now without changing another word. How pathetic is that?

On May 21, 2013, HBO Real Sports aired a program on the Portillo matter. TV correspondent Jon Frankel and crew came to Racine to film. We spent much of the day together. They shot more than three hours of film. During my interview, Frankel asked me a question I was not expecting. He asked if I thought another sports official would suffer the same fate as Ricardo Portillo. I remember taking a breath and looking upward. Watching it now it seems as if a part of me wanted to not answer or to answer in the negative. My answer was, “Yes.” And, sadly, I have been proven right about something I wish with every bone in my body I would have been proven wrong.

So, ask me that question again today. Let me answer and do so without taking a breath or looking skyward. The answer is that it will happen again. It will happen because society has chosen to be loud, brash, unforgiving and upbraiding. We are choosing to not respect authority. We are choosing to surround ourselves with celluloid violence — smash, pow, bam! At seemingly every turn we choose to turn the volume up instead of down. We want our way. We will not accept someone showing a yellow card or a red card to us.

What has happened to playing sports with honor? The focus has become how to game the game, game the referees, game the system. Let’s flop. Let’s constantly berate the official. Let’s never accept defeat with dignity. Give me a call I don’t like and I am going to smash you in the side of the head.

Tell you what, we can pontificate all we want about the need for security and the need for education of participants in sports. Homily only. If folks think we officials can protect them from themselves, they are sadly mistaken. Sports is life with the volume turned up. Those of us who referee have little sway over the loudness. So, just what did you expect would happen that day in Livonia, Mich.?

Contact: Matt Moore
NASO Press Liaison
Referee Enterprises, Inc.

The National Association of Sports Officials is the world’s largest organization for sports officials at every level and all sports. More than 20,000 sports officials from around the world belong to NASO, enjoying member benefits and supporting an organization that advocates for sports officials and that helps them maintain the highest level of officiating skills.

Referee is a magazine written from an officiating perspective since 1976. Referee is the journal of record for officiating and takes informed positions on selected issues.



10 Difficult Coworkers and How to Cope With Them !


Getting along with coworkers mostly means minding your own business, according to Geoffrey James, author of Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

“However, there are some coworkers who need a little ‘handling,’” he explains. “It’s not difficult once you’ve spotted the behaviors.”

Here are 10 of the most difficult coworkers:

1. The Waffler
Wafflers study everything to death, always seeking that mythical single last bit of information that will make a decision into a no-brainer. If your project hinges on a waffler, establish a deadline, with a default if no course of action is chosen.

2. The Competitor
The competitor defines the world as a zero-sum game. He always must feel that he’s won and that someone else has lost. To deal with him, channel that competitiveness into helping his team win (and somebody else’s team lose).

3. The Dramatist
Dramatists (aka, drama queens) draw energy from the drama they create because it makes them the center of attention. Unfortunately, giving them attention only increases their appetite, so your best bet is to ignore the histrionics until they run out of steam.

4. The Iconoclast
Iconoclasts break even the most sensible rules (social and business rules alike), just to show that they can get away with it. To deal with iconoclasts, distance yourself from them as soon as possible, both socially and organizationally.

5. The Droner
Droners are always ready to give a presentation—usually one that everyone has heard before. To cope, try to avoid any meeting to which a droner has been invited. If that’s not possible, answer emails on your tablet or laptop under the guise of “taking notes.”

6. The Frenemy
The frenemy pretends to be your biggest cheerleader but subtly sabotages everything you do. Example: “You did so well in that meeting that almost nobody noticed the typos.” Best strategy: Cool the “friendship” and avoid them.

7. The Vampire
Workplace vampires suck all the energy out of the room by always having a reason that something won’t work. Just as traditional vampires avoid sunlight, workplace vampires avoid ridicule. Just say: “Oh, you’re just being negative.” Then move on.

8. The Parasite
Parasites wait to see what ideas become popular and then position themselves as the brains behind them. To thwart them, always keep an “audit trail” of your contributions to a project in the form of regular status reports.

9. The Genius
These are legends in their own minds who talk and talk about their accomplishments but never seem to get anything done. To work with them, lay out frequent (even daily) milestones, and complain loudly to the genius’s boss when deadlines are missed.

10. The Volcano
Volcanoes appear calm and cool but under the veneer is a roiling cauldron of anger and bitterness, which will eventually explode. Your best strategy: Be elsewhere when the volcano blows.

“Ultimately, the best way to look at irritating coworkers is with a sense of humor,” says James. “Especially since your coworkers probably think you’re pretty irritating sometimes, too.”

Adapted from Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know by Geoffrey James.

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About the Author:   Geoffrey James is a veteran business journalist who now writes a daily column for His latest book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, won the following praise from Publishers Weekly: “The author’s pithy and frank style matches his title…a quick, impactful primer for anyone wanting to be more effective on the job.”

For more information, please visit: