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The BenchCoach Dugout Organizer Review
Earlier this spring, I took advantage of an opportunity to pick up a BenchCoach dugout organizer. I had seen the organizer in use at a few youth select baseball tournaments and the product appeared to be a great tool. I coach rec baseball, and thought this would be very helpful in keeping my dugouts neat. I decided to pick one up and use it with my T-ball team. If any group of kids needed help keeping their equipment organized, it was my five and six year olds.
The Bench Coach is made with moisture resistant 600D black polyester with a PVC coating. It has PVC dipped wire form frame for support and PE board inserts on the bottom shelves for support. The units feature coated hooks up top for hanging off dugout fencing and nylon straps with Velcro closures to provide extra hanging support. All of the load bearing areas are reinforced with nylon strap and the back of the units feature heavy duty gray mesh fabric which blends in with most dugout fencing and allows for light and air to flow through. The units also feature leather-trimmed name tag inserts for all of the storage cubbies, removable sleeves for lineup cards and elastic mesh pockets in all of the cubbies and on the sides for holding water bottles, cell phones, etc.
There are two configurations: the model R-12 has twelve individual storage cubbies and two reinforced shelves on the bottom to hold larger equipment; the model R-18 has eighteen individual slots and also includes a hook on the bottom for hanging a catcher's mask. Both units come with a carry bag, and both units feature a PVC coated and reinforced bat rack below.
Setup and break down are simple. Removed from the storage bag, you simply unfold the unit on the ground in front of the fence where you want to hang it. Then, hook by hook, hang it on the fence. That's it. If necessary, use the nylon straps on the back and bottom to tie the organizer to the fence. This is especially handy on windy days, though with the weight of the unit and the weight of the equipment being stowed, I have yet to see mine move even with strong wind gusts. To pack up the unit, you simply take it down off the fence hook by hook, lay it on the ground and fold it in half. A Velcro strap keeps the ends tied together. From there it slips easily in to the storage bag.
I subjected my Bench Coach to the toughest test - five and six year old players. These guys and gals are rough on equipment and tend to drop their gear where they stand when entering the dugout. In the past I have tried a variety of different methods to keep the dugout neat during games and practices. (All of the dugout benches at the ball fields have sticker residue from home made name tags!) This is the first time I have had all of my players buy in to a system and stick with it. They arrive at a game and immediately stow their equipment in their slot (personalized with a name tag) and hang their bat on the rack underneath. Mine was hung on, spilled on, piled on, and generally beat up by my team. At the end of our 10 practices and 12 game season, despite being a little dusty, it looks as good as it did the day I got it. It cleans easily. After a Gatorade incident soaked about half the cubbies on my model R-12, I removed the name cards, took a garden hose, and rinsed it off so it was good as new.
The model R-12 sells for $189 and the R-18 sells for $219. This may seem a little excessive, especially if you coach recreational baseball. I looked at it this way: I have one child playing rec ball and one playing select. I have two more who will soon follow in rec ball, and I will be coaching them as well. I will likely be in a dugout with a team for the next seven years. That's fourteen seasons of spring and fall ball. That's $13.50 a season. I would spend more than that on labels and bins to help organize the dugout and not get anywhere close to the results I have seen with this product. Since it is designed to last, and is clearly very durable, I expect that I will be able to use mine for the five to seven years. I loaned it out to my son's select team coach. He liked it so much, he bought two, one for his 10U team and one for his 8U team.
I can tell you that this is the best piece of baseball equipment I have invested in. It is built to last, stands up to youngsters in the dugout, and keeps the dugout free of rolling bats and helmets. I did not have one child stuck in the dugout this season because they could not find their hat or their glove. It helped our games run smoother and it made my Team Mom extremely happy. The organizer is only available for order online. You may find them set up as a vendor at select baseball tournaments, but your best bet is to their web site. The piece of equipment is most certainly worth the investment, I am confident you will be as happy with it as I am.