As the season concludes, the spotlight turns towards the culmination of the year — the end of the year banquet. Whether you are a seasoned coach or a newcomer, orchestrating an exceptional banquet is an art that requires meticulous planning and execution. In this article, we delve into four key aspects that can elevate your banquet from ordinary to extraordinary.
The cardinal rule for banquet success is to keep it concise! If you bore the audience, your banquet won’t be remembered in good ways! And you know how society is getting: more and more used to bite size videos on Insta or Snap that are less than 20 seconds long. In many ways, I really believe that the duration should mirror the team’s achievements, ensuring that the audience remains engaged rather than itching to exit. Unless your team clinched a State Championship or made history, avoid subjecting them to a three-hour banquet for a 3-7 season. Setting the tone for brevity begins with coach preparation.
Conduct a pre-banquet meeting with coaches, emphasizing appropriate content and timing. A helpful strategy is to document thoughts about each player on index cards, ensuring a succinct yet impactful presentation. By aligning the banquet’s length with the team’s performance, you keep attendees enthralled and leave them yearning for more. NOTHING is worse than a coach getting up there and saying the same boring thing about each and every kid they talk about. Or being totally unprepared. Or telling a story that was hilarious when it happened on the bus 3 months ago with 4 kids, but won’t mean anything to the greater audience today.
Meticulous Roster and Awards Verification
The nightmare of forgetting a player’s recognition echoes through the annals of coaching history. To prevent such lapses, quadruple-check rosters and awards lists. Recall the anguish of a JV player overlooked a decade ago due to an address change and a late start to the season. Organizational pride means little if a deserving player goes home empty-handed.
Cross-reference award lists with the school’s master roster or database system to ensure accuracy. A lesson learned from a past error: relying solely on coaches’ rosters can lead to misspelled names and disgruntled athletes. A meticulous verification process guarantees that every deserving individual is acknowledged appropriately.
Name Accuracy Through School’s Master Roster
Printing awards requires a laser focus on name accuracy. Verify rosters against the school’s master roster or database system to eliminate potential discrepancies. A cautionary tale comes from the early days of an Athletic Directorship when awards were distributed based on coach-provided rosters. The result: numerous athletes receiving certificates and trophies with incorrect names. Head coaches, especially at the varsity level, must scrutinize frosh and JV rosters for precise spelling, leaving no room for assumptions about correctness.
Efficiency in Motion
Banquets are celebratory, but no one wishes to linger until midnight. Tailor the duration to the number of players, avoiding the agony of enduring a three-hour banquet for a handful of athletes. Strategically planning and streamlining processes can significantly enhance the banquet experience.
If a meal is served, initiate the banquet presentation while attendees are enjoying their food. This minimizes the time spent on feeding everyone and keeps the event dynamic. Consider organizing serving tables to facilitate a smooth flow, allowing attendees to access both sides efficiently. Time-saving strategies not only demonstrate organizational prowess but also ensure that participants and guests depart with a positive and lasting impression. Start the food line as everyone is entering. In fact, start it 15 minutes earlier than the posted banquet start time. They check in, grab a plate and go through the food line. This gets everyone in and seated in great time instead of waiting 15 minutes into your start time to start the food lines. Plus, if you stick to this, they’ll show up even earlier next year! People will not complain about a banquet that runs on time, and is time efficient.
Mastering the art of banquet planning requires attention to detail, strategic thinking, and a commitment to delivering an unforgettable experience. By adhering to the principles of optimal length, meticulous roster management, name accuracy verification, and efficiency in motion, coaches can transform banquets into a celebration that reflects the dedication and achievements of their athletes. As the planning season commences, let these keys guide you toward orchestrating a banquet that resonates in the memories of players, parents, and coaching staff alike.
Chris Fore has his Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and currently works as a Principal in Southern California (yes, he went to the “dark side” after 17 years of coaching!) He served as the President of the California Coaches Association for 3 years. Fore is the CEO of Eight Laces Consulting which specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process. Fore has been named to the Hudl Top 100 Coaches, and the Top 5 Best High School Football Coaches to follow on Twitter by MaxPreps. Follow him!