Ways to Save Time Back-to-Sports Shopping ~Giveaway


Ways to Save Time Back-to-Sports Shopping

This post is sponsored by Vocalpoint and DICK’s Sporting Goods®.  All opinions are my own.

Back to School also means Back to Sports for our family. I’ll admit that I love our summer sports hiatus because summer flies by too fast as it is. My boys start school mid August and fall sports start practicing a few weeks before that. When practices begin before school starts, you have to be ready. I’ve got one in football and one playing fall baseball for the 1st time this year which will keep our family occupied for a while. I didn’t want to spend a ton of time shopping for sports equipment which made a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods a convenient stop.

So what do you need to do before you shop to save time?

  • Get a list of equipment that you are responsible for from the coach
  • Check for online coupons
  • Bring your rewards card
  • See what still fits. You don’t want to discover that your child has outgrown their cleats, apparel, or equipment after you went shopping.
  • Check what the team colors are so that your apparel selections and shoes don’t clash.
  • Find out how many days a week you will be practicing and when the games are so that you can plug them into your calendar. Ideally, you will want to have your shopping done before the 1st practice so that your child is prepared.
  • Get a sports physical- Most teams require them and after the physical, you will find out if you need to purchase any additional items to assist with playing the sport. For example, you might discover that your child needs glasses made for sports or a brace for more support. Also, get the physical marked for any sports that you think your child might play to save time and money.
  • Condense your errands. The less stops the better because your time is valuable too.
  • Get advice and check out reviews from others about brands and equipment to use for the sport they are playing.
  • Set a budget and let your kids be a part of the selecting process. Give them a price range to choose from and watch them become savvy budget shoppers instantly because now they view it as their money. This also helps them prioritize and determine which items they want to spend more on.

When it comes to selecting items, I let my husband take the lead in guiding my kids because he all about sports, ALL the time. Dick’s Sporting Goods is one of the few stores that my kids don’t complain about going to. If anything, my kids want to stay longer because they start to sneak over to check out the shoes and athletic apparel for back to school clothes. In their world, comfort and athletic clothing is king.

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Here are some items to check off if your kids are playing football or fall baseball. 

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Football Player Checklist

  • Cleats
  • Mouthguard
  • Water bottle
  • Helmet- optional
  • Bright Socks – These are a great way to identify you kid on the field
  • Practice Football

Baseball Player Checklist

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  • Baseball Helmet (optional)
  • Baseball glove- lefties need to make sure that they get a special glove
  • Baseball Bat
  • Water bottle
  • Baseball

Carpool Checklist

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Air freshener – Because your nostrils will burn after you carpool a group of middle school boys after they’ve been practicing in 90 degree heat.
  • Something to read- sometimes practices go over and you end up waiting in the parking lot for a while

Sports Parent Sideline Checklist

You can read all of my sideline essential here. 

Sideline Essentials for Sports Parents

We found EVERYTHING that we needed at Dick’s Sporting Goods which relived my stress and made my boys very happy.

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The selection is very large for just about any sport in store and there are also items available online as well.

Would you love to win a gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods?

Dick's Sporting Goods 4

Make sure that you enter the giveaway for (5) $50 gift cards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can find out more Dick’s Sporting Goods locations and merchandise from their website. 


5 Reasons to Bring your Boys to the Ballet

Boys to Ballet cover

I recently took my boys to their first full ballet performance to see Peter Pan by the Cincinnati Ballet. I didn’t give them a lot of notice of our upcoming adventure in case they decided to give a lot of resistance to the idea. My kids are pretty used to trying different experiences all the time so they were not too shocked when I told them our evening plans.

Peter Pan was probably the perfect 1st performance for them because there was flying, lots of actions scenes and humor. My younger son was a little confused in beginning and asked why no one was speaking. It helped that they already had a general idea of the storyline too.

[Read more…]

Playing Football with a Pro ~ Experiencing Pro Camps

Playing Football with a Pro ~ Experiencing Pro Camps

Both of my sons recently attended a football ProCamp with Chicago Bear running back Matt Forte.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

We were really impressed with the structure, the coaches and the interaction with the camp’s namesake.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

The camp was 2 days long from 9-12 on a Saturday and Sunday.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

The kids could also purchase an optional $10 wristband for lunch each day. The cost of the camp included a t shirt, Matt Forte autograph and team picture with Matt Forte.

Before the camp started, kids could play Pop Chips bean bag toss and receive samples from several of the camp’s sponsors.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

The kids were divided into groups by age, each age group had their own coaches.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

The coaches were very positive and did a great job of helping the kids learn proper form and techniques.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

On the first day, Matt Forte shared with the kids about working hard, making good choices and being a leader.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

My observation was that Matt Forte is a genuine role model for the kids. He was out there on the field giving each age group time to interact with him.  He really seemed to enjoy the kids and tried to give each kid some attention.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

matt spiral Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

It’s not everyday that you can say that your kids have played football with a current NFL Pro Bowl player.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

Both of my kids caught passes from Matt Forte during their scrimmage time. like I wrote before, he did a great job of dividing his time so that he could play with each age group.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids   Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

On the last day, the kids ran in heats to determine who were the fastest campers. The fastest campers got to run in a heat against Matt Forte. They tried, but didn’t stand a chance.

I feel like my kids do have an advantage going into the fall football season because of this camp.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

It was a great experience for both of my sons.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids

ProCamps offers a variety of camps for different sports.

Since 1998, ProCamps has developed, marketed, and operated sports camps and related events for professional athletes in the National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Professional Golfer’s Association, and Women’s Professional Soccer.

You can find out more about ProCamps from their website.
 Chicago Bears Matt Forte football ProCamp for kids
Disclosure: I was given complimentary camps for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


$20 off Discount Code ~ ProCamps for Kids coming to Chicago Area

Are your kids HUGE football fans?


You are invited to attend one of two great football ProCamps coming soon.

 The campers will experience various stations, specializing in fundamental skills of football. Individual groups will be small to assure that each camper gets maximum instruction from the top football coaches in the Chicago area. Each camp is open to boys and girls in grades 1-8 and focuses on footballfundamentals.


Brian Kelly




Join Notre Dame Head Football Coach and two-time Coach of the Year, Brian Kelly for football instruction and fun at the 2013 Adidas Brian Kelly Football ProCamp in partnership with Citi.  Kelly will be on site to direct the camp, 27 Jun 2013 from 9:00AM-12:30PM at Plainfield East High School. Kelly will talk about the finer points of the game and beyond.

Campers receive an autographed team photo with Kelly, A Limited Edition Brian Kelly FootballProCamp T-Shirt, goodie bag and the opportunity to win additional prizes. Cost of the camp is $99. Spots are limited, so campers are encouraged to register early.

SAVE $20 off this camp if you go to www.procamps.com/BrianKelly and use promo code: USFAMILY



Matt Forte




Join Chicago Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte for football instruction and fun at the 2013 Citi Matt Forte Football ProCamp.

Forte will be on site to direct the camp Jun 29 and 30th, 2013from 9:00AM-12:30PM at Niles West High School . The campers will experience various stations, specializing in fundamental skills of football. Individual groups will be small to assure that each camper gets maximum instruction from the top football coaches in the Chicago area. Camp is open to boys and girls in grades 1-8 and focuses on football fundamentals. Kelly will talk about the finer points of the game and beyond.


All campers will receive a limited edition Matt Forte Football Procamp T-Shirt, exclusive autographed camp team photo with Matt Forte and have the opportunity to participate in contests and win additional prizes.  Cost of the camp is $149. Spots are limited, so campers are encouraged to register early.

SAVE $20 off this camp if you go to www.procamps.com/MattForte and use promo code: USFAMILY



Disclosure: I am a US Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending events and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, US Family has provided me with complimentary tickets to US Family events that apply.

Fantasy Football

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I know of a place that is open to the public where you can play football in a college stadium.  This has been a favorite pastime of my boys with their dad for years.

The University of Cincinnati ‘s football stadium is where all of my kid’s fantasies about playing football for college/pros one day are given new life.














During a recent visit to Cincinnati we took some time to stop by and play for a bit.













Due to bad knees, Grandpa was recruited to be all time quarterback and I was even drafted to a team.













It’s a sad day when your 5 year old knows more about plays and the game than you do.













I was also outrun and out played by 5 year olds too.  They did let me get my one moment of glory by scoring a touchdown.













That day there were students playing frisbee on the other side of the field and a kicker practicing field goals.  All of us still had plenty of room to play.






















If the stadium field if occupied when you visit, there is also a practice field close by you can also use to play on.














Check out the University of Cincinnati for directions to the stadium and schedules for the upcoming season.

Sometimes you gotta take one for the team

Let me start out by saying I’m not a super huge sports fan. Growing up we would occasionally go to the see Cincinnati Reds baseball or Cyclones hockey games.

I also was a cheerleader for about 5 years, who never really understood the game of football. I would like to blame it on having my back to the action but really it just never fully interested me to try to figure out what all of the plays meant.

In college I had the best job in the world. Several of us students were waitstaff at the arena in Dallas. We took food and drink orders on a handheld computer from customers in the VIP sections and then a “runner”  would bring down the food. We pushed the buttons, the runners did the legwork and we were the ones who got tipped along with a great basepay. The only time this beautiful system didn’t work was when the runners got behind and we had to pitch in.

Did I mention we got paid to watch professional basketball and hockey in some of the best seats in the house? I got to see Michael Jordan play. At the time the Mavericks played the Bulls they were the worst team in the league. We witnessed a miracle that night when the  Mavs beat the Bulls. We also watched The Stars in the playoffs along with many fights. I have to say those are fun to watch. The only casualty of the job was watching out for the occasional puck that would fly into the crowd or dealing with drunk perverts.

So who knew my heart would eventually belong to another fellow college student working the beer stand. I made him so proud when I turned down a player who had sent a ball boy to get my number. The player was injured, had some free time on the bench, and I’m sure I wasn’t the first or last person he had sent a ball boy with the task of getting a phone number from. But it sure made my beer stand boyfriend on Mavs games/ waitstaff for Stars hockey games feel pretty good. (He wanted me to set the record straight)

When you date you do things for each other because you are so excited about the other person. I had never voluntarily watched a college football game before. So there I was on Christmas break, watching Michigan play on New Years Day, all by myself, as a weird form of support for the man I loved. He liked sports but didn’t force them on our dating life. Now granted he was getting to witness them a few nights a week while we were working.

So fast forward into our married life and there is ALWAYS some sporting event going on to watch. College football being on the top of the priority list to reschedule around  if possible or be DVR’d with the challenge of not listening to the radio or receiving phone calls until the game could be watched. I will go to any sporting event once for the quest for variety but I’m not fully committed to the home watching participation part.

So how did I win wife of the year from my husband?

By scoring my family (4 )$70 tickets to the University of Michigan game out of   PURE LOVE!

My husband had told me about a sports radio station doing a live remote at the local Meijer that was giving tickets to several different sporting events. I picked up the boys from school and headed over to the store, entered the contest, went home to listen to sports radio for an hour and a half to hear them mispronounce my name as the winner,and drove 70mph down Lake Michigan Dr. to beat the other winner for 1st pick of the tickets. Please don’t judge- I was driving with Nascar safety and precision.

I had just scored the best birthday/anniversary gift ever. This was a dream gift for my husband that wasn’t in the budget at all, which made it even more of a blessing. He was now going to be able to share the experience with his family. He had been talking about the experience at the “Big House” for years. So our boys were already groomed to be elated for the ultimate encounter of all things Michigan. My oldest son even gets offended at the sign of a state fan sticker in parking lots or on random strangers walking around with state fan swag.

Our family did visit the free spring game scrimmage this past spring where the boys got to also tour the locker room and watch the warm ups before the game. I met up with them there later joined by a neighbor who brought her boys. She and I were not as committed to the whole day experience.

Getting to watch a real game was the perfect progression. The boys were anticipating the day with Christmas excitement. We found jerseys for everyone to wear and got up early to make the drive to Ann Arbor. We paid the ridulous price of parking at a gas station and made our way in to the stadium. We are normally die hard “always find free parking” people but it’s hard to find parking amongst 110,000+ people.

We were seated across the aisle from the student section. Our seats were great and near the excitement with the band.

The students were well behaved so we didn’t have to explain any life lessons that day. We watched the team score touchdown after touchdown, participated in the slowest “wave” I have ever seen in my life, the boys and I learned the hand motions and cheers to several of the songs as the band played. I can’t say I know football any better than my 5 year still at this point but I did enjoy the experience and it was very surreal to see what 110,000+ people looks like in a stadium.

Sports are my husbands love language and I don’t speak it. Fortunately we have had friends and family who have helped fill that void for him over the years.  He is now training our boys with a sports education that includes a morning ESPN ritual. I’m sure as our kids grow and become more involved in sports I will eventually be converted to the cold side of the bleacher. I might even be tempted to purchase a cowbell or wear my Snuggie in public.

One of the compromises when you love someone is sharing what brings them joy.

So it looks like I’m outnumbered on this one and will continue to be very well rounded in my lifelong degree of physical education.


Check out the rest of the year’s football schedule and ESPN to know the schedule for all things sports related.