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7 Secrets to Sports Banquet Planning for Newbies

It’s one thing to coach a sports team.

It’s a whole other ball game to plan a banquet to celebrate them.

Recognizing athletes for their hard work, no matter how the season went, is essential to supporting the minds behind the bodies. Doing this in the form of a banquet will give people the recognition they deserve while motivating them to perform well.

Still, planning an event takes a lot of time and organization. With a few simple guidelines, you can plan a wonderful event — with no prior experience.

You don’t have to have knowledge about the sport or the athletes themselves. All you need are these 8 secrets to sports banquet planning. 

1. Banquet Planning Starts With an Agenda

The first step is to identify the purpose of the banquet.

It’s a time to recognize the players and the families who support them.

Think about how you want to do that. You may want to provide your guests with food, drinks, and entertainment. 

You’ll want to plan a time where the coach can recognize the strengths of the team. Traditionally, this means giving a speech while delivering physical awards such as trophies, medals, or certificates. 

This part of the banquet is the highlight. It will make players feel good about the season which will increase their internal motivation.

Make a list of all the things that should happen at the event. Then, organize an agenda to allocate time for each of these things.

You should give guests time to socialize, eat, and relax in between speeches and other activities. That way, they don’t have to sit still and be quiet for prolonged periods of time.

After you know what you want the event to look like, you can determine what it will cost to do this.

2. Gather Funds

You may already have an allocated budget for the banquet. 

If you don’t, you must get the resources through fundraising. Before doing this, try to make an estimate of how much the whole thing will cost with a little buffer for unexpected items.

It may be helpful to figure out the cost per athlete including their guests. 

Things you must pay for include:

  • Things you need to rent (e.g. the venue and sound equipment)
  • Supplies and decor
  • Food and drinks 
  • Awards
  • Paid staff (e.g. entertainment and catering)

Don’t worry if your budget is tight. There are many ways to cut costs, including finding out what connections the athletes and families may have. They may know people who can cut you a deal or that offer low prices.

If you don’t have an allocated budget, you’ll want to consider the following information to determine how much you need. If you do, start with that number and divide it up into the following categories.

3. Make a Guest List

Get a total for the number of athletes on the team.

Then, give each player an average number of guests.

To get an idea of how many people will come, send out an invitation with an RSVP. The invitation should include the date, time, location, and appropriate dress for the event.

It’s helpful to give a deadline for RSVPing so that you can accommodate all of your guests.

4. Choose a Convenient Location

Find a suitable place for the banquet.

This may be a hotel, banquet hall, or community center.

Before renting the space, find out about the capacity, restrictions, accessibility, and parking of the location.

You’ll want to rent the location as early as you can to ensure you get the date you want.

5. Build a Banquet Team

Just like many athletic teams rely on a group of people, so does a banquet. 

Assemble the crew you need to make the event happen. Think about the various tasks involved, including gathering the supplies, decorating and setting up, and taking everything down.

Part of your banquet team may include paid staff, such as a catering business.

You’ll want to have a designated photographer for the event. It doesn’t have to be a professional photographer but it should be someone who can be on top of capturing the event with a good camera.

6. Gather the Supplies

Make a list of everything you’ll need for the banquet down to the fine details.

Start off by thinking about where people will sit. Each metal or wood folding table should comfortably sit the athletes and their guests. 

You’ll want decorations on top of the tables, such as flowers and candles. Get creative with it — everything doesn’t have to be sports-related (but it can be).

Decorate the space as well with things like carpets and lights.

Finally, pick out physical awards that can be given to each athlete. If the budget is tight, this can be a certificate of recognition written by the coach.

7. Get the Ball Rolling Early

Do these things as early as you can once you know the date of the banquet.

Part of this is gathering the supplies, coordinating a caterer, and gathering volunteers to set up.

On the day of the event, get to the venue as early as possible to set up. This allows volunteers to put everything in place without rushing.

Then, if there’s anything you forgot, someone can easily go get it before the start of the event.

If you want things to go as smoothly as possible, meet with your volunteers ahead of time. Then, you can designate responsibilities and expectations. This keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that tasks will be completed.

Make It Memorable

Aside from these crucial steps, your banquet planning should focus on ways to make the experience memorable.

Athletes will cherish and remember their careers for their entire life. You can be a part of that by planning a beautiful event to acknowledge their accomplishments.

Make lists of everything you need to do and get, assemble a team, and help create memories that will last a lifetime.

Keep reading our blog for more ways to get organized and make the most out of your days.