With the fall sports season wrapping up, there’s a certain amount of relief, but you know you will miss the camaraderie of the other parents and the fun of watching your kid work on new skills. While reflecting on the last few months be sure to consider your child's coach and the contributions s/he has had in the team's success.
The fact is, coaches work hard all season to inspire, motivate and help players. They teach new techniques and help athletes perfect their games on a myriad of levels. In addition to the commitments of a season, they may have led your team to the All-Stars or a league title. It takes hours upon hours each week and when the holidays approach, it makes sense to want to buy the coach a thank you gift. Given how hard coaches work, there are many heartfelt options that will be meaningful.
Sure, lots of coaches say “I don’t expect anything, I do it for the kids,” but we all know they appreciate a little something extra. If you think your coach is the best, it’s hard to think of new and unique ways to thank him or her for everything. But chances are, right about now somebody on the team is probably taking up a collection so read on for ideas.
Beyond the Gift Card
Gift cards, a holiday staple, are not all bad, but you can probably do better. If you must buy a gift card, and your coach is a guy, it’s probably safe to say he likes a trip to the mall as much as he likes “Twilight.”.Instead of a dept. store card, consider getting one from a store like Best Buy that sells electronics. Or find out his favorite restaurant. A steakhouse card is a little nicer than a fast-food card but either way, make sure it's a place he and his family likes to go. What coaches do not want is a Starbucks gift card. Nothing says thoughtless gift-giving like a Starbucks card.
Top 10 Coach Gifts
- Plaque or Trophy You can always go traditional with some sort of plaque or trophy. These have long been popular choices for coaches and customization helps to make them personal. But while these items are appreciated, they also are not terribly creative. More than likely, your coach has different teams every year and ends up with a roomful of trophies and plaques. Of course if the coach definitely loves your team best, s/he may really treasure this.
- Framed Photos. Similar to the plaque and trophy, it seems every coach gets a team picture and it often seems so – well – not enough. If you want to personalize the picture, leave room at the bottom for all of the team members to sign their names. And if it’s truly a special photo, make sure to buy a nice frame for it. A framed version will be a treasured keepsake while an unframed one will end up in a stack of papers on the desk. If you’d like to take the team picture idea a step further, you can have it made into a wall plaque with the team roster engraved underneath it. This is more expensive than a simple framed photo, but if your coach is retiring or your team is moving up into another division to be coached by someone else, it makes for a more formal thank you.
- Albums or Scrapbooks. Albums documenting the season—such as the ones you can make using iPhoto or www.snapfish.com, are also popular coach gifts. Another gift that a coach may enjoy is a scrapbook or memory box filled with pictures and newspaper clippings highlighting the season. A digital scrapbook – like a DVD of video highlights set to music – is also fun. Sites like www.animoto.com are great for making a professional looking team montage.
- Personalized Home or Office. Print on demand sites like Zazzle or Cafepress feature hundreds of customized, one-of-a-kind products ranging from messenger bags and mouse pads to calendars, clocks and coffee mugs. Stay away from generic sayings like “#1 Coach” or “World’s Best Coach” and try to be more personal by adding the team name and year along with the season record or some other unique stat There are also lots of sites that sell personalized coach gifts like monogrammed whistles or ice chests which will be appreciated as long as they’re not duplicates of gifts he's already received.
- Tote or Duffle Bag – Along the same lines as above, one of the best ideas I’ve seen is a one-of-a-kind bag made from team jerseys, t-shirts, race bibs, heat sheets, etc. Mile 22 and Races R My Bag sell to the running and tri community but they can take any memorabilia and turn it into a tote bag, backpack, messenger bag, etc. Plan ahead and purchase commemorative T-shirts from some of the major tournaments throughout the season and combine them for a memorable tote.
- Tickets. A pair of tickets to a game, concert, comedy show—whatever the coach likes – make a great gift. For example, if he or she coaches your basketball team, get tickets to your nearest professional basketball team’s next game. Include a certificate for food at the venue if possible. If professional sports tickets are too pricey, tickets to college sports events or minor league sports games are often much less expensive and just as much fun.
- Gift Basket A great team gift to a coach is a basket filled with different items that the coach can use. Enclose the gifts in a useful container, such as a large plastic tub the coach can use to hold water bottles or playbooks. A swim coach, for example, might like a basket filled with towels, whistles, first aid equipment, goggles and any other tools they frequently use during practice and at swim meets. For entertainment, throw in some DVDs of favorite sports movies along with some microwave popcorn.
- Sports ties (Guys). Choose tasteful ties with either a logo or a sports-themed pattern. These are great for coaches who seldom wear ties but want one with personality and for coaches who wear ties on the bench.
- Jewelry (Gals). Many female coaches like jewelry—something that generates compliments so they can brag, “I got this from my team.” Check Etsy or local vendors for ideas. There are tons of sports specific charms, earrings and necklaces. Engraved jewelry can make that gift even more special.
- Memorabilia or Collectibles Many coaches follow professional or NCAA teams. A nice way to show a coach you’ve paid attention to their interests is to give them memorabilia from their favorite team such as a NBA Draft Hat. Some coaches treasure a hoodie or jacket that commemorates a favorite tournament so if you think about it early enough in the season, you can pick up a commemorative garment from an event. Collectibles are also thoughtful gifts. A football coach might appreciate a collectible, such as an Autographed Eli Manning Super Bowl Photograph.
- Just because you can buy something online for 70% off its retail price doesn’t mean you should. Be sure the gift is something the coach will actually enjoy and appreciate (this applies to all the gifts you buy).
- See if purchases can be made through your school’s Scrip program so that the school gets a percentage of the purchase donated back.
- The very best gift is to show APPRECIATION. Whatever you decide to get for your coach, have your child write a personal message about what s/he learned during the season. Coaches all say that means more than any plaque or gift card as it forces each player to think about the time devoted and what s/he had to offer.
- “It’s Official – You’re a Gold Medal Coach” is the perfect thank-you card to include with your gift or check out these sports-specific holiday cards for everyone on the team.
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