With the end of another sports season, comes the inevitable question for youth sports parents: what gift to buy for their child's coach. Selecting the right end-of-season coach's gift involves a number of considerations:
Are gifts allowed?
Before you start collecting money or searching for a gift, find out if such gifts are even permitted. Many youth sports leagues have adopted a "no gifts" policy. The reason for the ban is to avoid forcing parents- especially those hit hard by the economic downturn or with kids playing on more than one team - into having to choose between spending money they don't have and the embarrassment of seeing the coach receive a team gift or individual gifts from every parent except them.
Here are some suggestions if a no-gift rule is in place:
- Send the coach a handwritten note or card thanking him or her for the season along with a separate thank you note from your child. As a former coach, I can tell you that such notes are greatly appreciated by coaches.
- Give the coach a game ball and thank you card signed by all the players. The autographed game ball makes a nice keepsake.
- After the last game, arrange to have the players make short speeches about the coach. I remember one time a coach in a no-gift league telling me that one of the best end-of-season gifts he ever received was a video one of the dads filmed of the player's speeches which was presented to the coach with a handmade card signed from all the boys and their parents. He told me it was the one gift that stood out in his mind above all others and it didn't cost much more than a blank DVD.
Team or individual gifts?
If gifts are permitted, it is usually best for the parents to take up a collection to buy a team gift for the coach. Some ideas:
- A gift certificate to a local restaurant. Our research suggests that this is the gift most women coaches prefer. I remember getting a gift certificate to a local restaurant by a soccer team I coached. I know that I was beaming all through dinner as I reminisced with my family about the season. It was nice to know that all the hard work being a coach entails - the juggling of line-ups to make sure everyone got significant playing time, the endless phone calls - was appreciated in a way that gave me a night off from cooking. Double bonus if the certificates are purchased through the school's Scrip program so that the school gets a percentage of the purchase donated back.
- Tickets to a sporting event or a gift certificate to a favorite sporting goods store. Our research suggests that these are the team gifts most male coaches prefer.
- A Dunkin Donuts gift card (what coach, male or female, doesn't drink coffee or eat the occasional donut?)
- A trophy or glass vase engraved with the name of the coach, team, town and date. I have a beautiful cut-glass vase in my office that I got from the parents of an undefeated boys' soccer team I coached a few years back. The team bought it from a catalog at a local trophy store and it didn't cost much more than $4 to 5 per boy, yet I will cherish it forever. My own trophy!
What are the coach's interests?
What hobbies does the coach have? The more you know about the coach the easier it will be to get a gift he or she will like. Is he a golfer, skier, tennis player?
Other gift ideas
- A framed team photo with each player's signature in a white border. Especially nice for an office
- A coffee mug with the team photo and signatures in permanent ink
- A T-shirt or polo-type shirt with the team's name and won-loss record on the pocket
- A case for a signed game ball
Here are some additional ideas suggested by visitors to MomsTeam's Facebook page:
- "My husband says the greatest gift he could ever hope for is the kids playing hard and as a team." -- Cassondra Barber of Sherrill, New York.
- "My husband coached and one of the nicest gifts he ( and the other coaches) received was a cooler ( LL Bean, I believe) with his (our) name on it. All the coaches received personalized coolers-- and it is useful for all outdoor events- family and otherwise-- and non-sport specific. we KNEW exactly who gave us the cooler-- and that we use it still is a reminder of the team. -- Barbara Bleiweis
- "My husband coached and served on the boosters for several years. When he and a couple of other members stepped down, the school gave them each an insulated backpack/picnic cooler from Eddie Bauer that had the school's name embroidered on it. It is awesome - we use it ALL the time." -- Michelle Spelman
- "I was an assistant coach for a CYO HSG team and at the end of the season the girls bought basketballs for each coach and after the fianl game they each signed them and took a final team picture at the end of the season. It was a great gift and something i will have forever." -- Kyle Miller of Levittown, Pennsylvania.
What was the best gift you received as a coach? The best idea for a gift? Let us know by posting a comment and we'll update the article to add the best suggestions.
Created June 3, 2010; Revised May 19, 2011