Wait... it’s over already!? It is amazing how quickly a volleyball season ends! One minute, you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how you could POSSIBLY have 2 more months left (or the 2-3 week range for high school) and the next minute, you’re giving your final “good game” and facing a group of parents wanting details on the end of season party. What do you do?
Ideally, you’ve thought about this already and have at least set a date/time for the end of the season party. You tell your players you’ll see them soon, and you get home as quickly as you can to relax. It’s over! You can go back to your regular life schedule!
Not so fast, though! You need to give your team the send-off they deserve, and it’s going to take just a little more work before you can really, honestly, truly relax.
As mentioned before, you should already have a date and time setup. The venue could be included in this, but I wanted to give you a few options to consider.
What’s your budget like? Are you going to be hosting just your team? 3 teams? 30 teams? The size of your awards banquet/end of season party will determine the venue (and the budget). There's no need to go overboard though.. you can honestly throw a great party even in the most basic venue.
A local pizza place, a player’s home, a middle school cafeteria, and a practice facility are all places I have hosted or been to awards banquets. Determine what is right for your team/club and move forward from there. Keeping costs low on rentals helps with the rest of your planning.
Obviously, if you’re having a small gathering at a pizza place, you’re going to get your players pizza. Honestly, pizza is a great option for a number of places, but if you’re having players dress up, pizza might be a little too messy. Other options could include salad, chips and salsa, cake, cookies, tacos, burgers, etc. Expect your players to be hungry. Those liberos can put away a lot of food!
If you’re holding your awards banquet at a place which serves food, get permission to bring in a cake or cookies. They will not always let you do this, so call ahead and check.
READ MORE: Fun Volleyball Serving Games and Drills
For dessert, consider volleyball themed cookies, cake pops, or cupcakes. Kids these days are all about taking pictures, and having fun food will give them something to share with their friends.
Volleyball players these days are ALL about selfies and other photographable moments. Setup a fun backdrop, get some props, and watch as this is the most popular area of the night. Coaches love it too!
If you are using a venue which is not normally used for parties, chances are that it is not the most festive looking. Spruce it up by adding balloons, streamers, table centerpieces, and other fun decorations. Bonus points for using club colors!
Have a speech prepared to give to the club/team! The success of your speech can determine how your players leave feeling about the season, so make sure to give it some thought! For tips on how to prepare an awesome speech check this out:
Awards can be given out using a few methods:
Combination of Team Vote and Coaches Choice
I have found the easiest way to give awards to be let the players vote, and then if I see anything off/ties need to be broken, my assistant and I will make the final decision.
There was one year where I made the decision on my own, and although I firmly stand behind my decisions, the players seemed confused by my MVP choice (hardest worker and highly skilled, but not the most skilled) and I got a sense that there was suspicion of favoritism. Letting players vote gets them thinking about their performance for the year and means more to the player who receives the awards.
READ MORE: Pre-Made Practice Plan: Jousting and Tip Coverage
Another year I gave everyone an award based on their stats (highest kill percentage, most aces, etc), but there were a few people I struggled with. I think the players enjoyed this because they got to go home and tell their parents that they had the most passes that season, but I can’t guarantee you’ll find something noteworthy for everyone.
When you’re presenting awards, make sure to say something about each player receiving the award (more in my video about speeches), and have something physical to give them for their achievement. Calling someone as MVP and just having them stand there is awkward. It doesn’t need to be anything more than a piece of paper, but having something versus nothing will make a big difference.
Side note: I highly suggest you do NOT do funny awards. As much as we feel we get to know our players, sometimes what we think is funny is actually hurtful, or we don’t understand the full inside joke, or we’re just plain not that funny. It might be ok to give a silly type of award if your club has a running joke/gag award that they do every year, but I’d recommend staying away from this grey area.