Three Ways to Make Your Banquet More Engaging

 The postseason banquet can be a source of significant stress. It's a lot of work to organize and is often a thankless job, not to mention the fear of saying something wrong, forgetting to thank someone, etc. Here are three ways to make your banquet more engaging, more meaningful, and more fun for all involved.

Table Talk - This year we opened the evening by mixing parents, coaches, and players into groups at each table. We gave each group about five minutes for each individual to share. Parents were asked to talk about what they enjoyed most about watching our teams play this season. Players and coaches shared what they appreciated about being part of the team. Once everyone took their turn, a player at each table reported the best idea from their discussion to the larger group. 

Side Note - We used this same procedure at our preseason parent meeting to create conversation between players, coaches, and parents. Prior to the season we ask them to discuss what will make the season meaningful regardless of our outcomes. Table Talk at the banquet provides a nice bookend to that initial discussion.

Letters to the Player Who Will Wear My Jersey - Another of my favorite banquet traditions is having seniors write a letter to the player who will wear their jersey number in the future. This is a great way to have them reflect on their experience in the program and what the jersey has meant to them over the years. Players read their letters before we present them with a framed print of their jersey number. Eventually, those letters will be turned into posters that hang in our locker room during the season.

The week after the banquet we highlight one senior letter per day on our social media.You can view examples of our senior letters HERE.

Senior Voiceovers - Last year we added a final segment to our traditional banquet video that included segments from audio interviews we conducted with our seniors prior to the start of the postseason. We splice pieces of those interviews over pictures and videos the players gathered throughout the season as a final way to honor our seniors. This year we also added comments from our juniors about each senior. 

You can view an example HERE.

Bonus: Assistant Coach Dundie Awards - We added a section to our team awards ballots that allows players to suggest Dundie Awards for each assistant coach. I work with the captains to choose each award and we present them at the banquet. Each assistant is required to give an acceptance speech. Here are a few examples of awards we have given:

  • The Saggy Baller Award
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Scout Team Role
  • The Swingline Scouting Report Award for Excellence
  • Best Dressed
  • Promising Assistant Coach
  • The Post Whisperer
  • Does Fine Work Award
  • Office MVP (for our Athletic Secretary)

Following our banquet this yearI got a text message from one of our seniors that said, "Thanks for putting so much into our final time in the program." Ultimately, this is the goal. We want our seniors to feel honored at their final banquet, and we have found they have appreciated our efforts to make the evening more engaging for all.  

Food for thought.

Nate Sanderson

Co-Host of the Coaching Culture Podcast

[email protected]om / Twitter@CoachNSanderson

Note - JP & I discussed a plethora of ideas on how to get the most out of your postseason banquet on Episode 77 of the Coaching Culture Podcast.  

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