With games on the weekends and practices during the week, it’s a huge time commitment to be a sports coach. Even if you’re a very busy sports parent, it’s important to take a minute to say thank you to the coach at the end of the season. Regardless of your budget, there are dozens of ways to do it.
Free, or almost:
- Quote Book - Start at the beginning of the season and quietly record all the profound or funny (or profoundly funny) things the kids and parents say. Organize them artistically in a book, perhaps with photos or as a collage.
- Highlights Video - There are lots of apps and websites that can help you turn your video clips from throughout the season into a cool highlights video or slideshow. Present it to the coach on a thumb drive.
- Thank You Note from Your Athlete - There is nothing more precious than a thank you note from a child. Make it extra special by having them write the most important lessons they learned or funny memories.
- Photo Collage - Cut out a photo of each child’s face and label it with his or her name. Arrange them artistically as a collage.
- Dinner - Those weeknight practices make it tough to get dinner on the table. When you’re picking up your child, drop dinner off for the coach to take home.
- Chores - Maybe during the season your busy coach has slacked off on some around-the-house tasks. Especially if your athletes are teenagers, have them offer to do yard work or whatever else your coach needs done.
- Breakfast in Bed - Work with your coach’s spouse to surprise them on a non-game Saturday morning with a great breakfast meal.
- Sports Jersey Pillow. Take an extra team jersey and make it into a pillowcase where your coach can rest her weary head.
- A Team Photo - When you are ordering team photos of your child, order one for the coach too. They shouldn’t have to pay for their own. If you don’t have professional photographs of the team taken, get the kids together and make one yourself.
- Sports Jersey Wall Hanging - Stretch a team jersey over a canvas frame for a wall hanging. Several crafty websites have more detailed directions for both these projects.
- Signed Ball - Have all the team members sign a ball for a coach’s keepsake. Get a small display case to put it in.
- T-shirt - Have them sign a team T-shirt for a keepsake he can actually wear.
- Drink Coasters - Have an online photo site print your favorite photos from the season on a set of coasters. If you’re crafty, you can also DIY with tiles from the home improvement store and Mod Podge.
- Sports Paraphernalia - Find out your coach’s favorite professional or collegiate team. There is a variety of merchandise — clothing, athletic gear, housewares, you name it — available in any team logo you can imagine.
- A Book - Perhaps a biography of an inspirational coach or a novel about a come-from-behind underdog team.
- An Audio Book - Like sports parents, coaches spend lots of time in their cars. Instead of getting them a book they won’t have time to read, get it for them in audio form.
- Subscription to Sports Magazine - A gift that lasts all year!
Tools of the Trade
- Clipboard - You may have noticed that, on the sidelines, there’s no easy way to write things down.
- Great Personalized Pen - A high-quality pen that never fails will reduce coach’s sideline frustrations.
- Personalized Binder - To keep all those rosters, schedules and other forms organized.
- Small Dry Erase Board - So they can show — and not just tell — the kids what they need to do.
- Personalized Water Bottle - Coaches get thirsty too!
- Cooler - Some coaches get really thirsty! Get them a small, personalized cooler so they don’t have to share with anyone else.
- A Big Tote Bag - Coaches have a lot of gear.
- Fold-up Chair - A sturdy, easily portable one they can use on the sidelines.
- Personalized Towel - Because the last thing they want to do is accidentally use someone else’s sweaty towel. Ew.
- Hat - For those sunny Saturday morning games or drizzly afternoon practices.
- Rain Jacket - So coach will look sharp during rainy Saturday morning games and drizzly afternoon practices.
- Hand Warmers/Foot Warmers -For cold mornings and evenings, those disposable warming packets designed to be put in gloves and socks will make coach much more comfy.
- Sundry Sideline Supplies - Sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, etc., presented in a cute container.
Go Big: Choose a Group Gift
- Pay to Have Their House Cleaned or Yard Mowed by a Professional - Even better than offering to have the kids do it for them.
- Tickets to a Sporting Event - Just make sure it works with their schedule.
- Video Camera -Coach can take footage of practices, and then play it back to show the kids what they did well and where they can improve. Or she could just use it on her next big vacation.
- Sports Memorabilia -Find out who your coach’s favorite professional or collegiate team is. There are loads of online sites where you can buy a jersey or ball signed by a favorite player.
- Great Sunglasses -Yours will be the coolest-looking coach on the sidelines.
- Watch - Have it engraved. A quality watch will be something your coach will wear for many years.
- Something to Wear -Eye-catching costume jewelry or a tie with a subtle sports motif will remind of them of how much they are appreciated in the off-season.
- Beer or Wine of the Month Club -Another gift that lasts all year!
- Charitable Donation -Chances are, your coach is community-minded enough to have a favorite charity. Find out what it is and make a donation in his name.
- Play it Forward -Make a donation to your sports league in your coach’s name that will make it possible for a child whose family can’t afford it to play for a season. If that’s not practical, there are numerous national and international charities that support athletic programs for underprivileged children. Can you think of a better tribute to a beloved coach?
Take some time out of your busy scheduling of chauffeuring and watching from the sidelines to pick a thoughtful gift for coach. Now that’s a touchdown!
Jen Pilla Taylor is a former journalist and mother of two school-age children.
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