Having coached twelve seasons of youth soccer and often more than one team each season, I’ve received my share of coach’s gifts. All are absolutely appreciated, but it might surprise parents how much a coach may treasure certain gifts. A gift doesn’t have to cost a lot or be fancy, as it usually is the personal touch that matters. Or the practicality.
Looking back over the years, I’ve gotten a number of coach’s gifts. But I’ll admit that I can’t remember every single one I’ve gotten over the years, but some I’ll likely never forget because of the thought that went into them. So if you’re trying to think of the perfect gift for a coach, you might be surprised that it doesn’t have to cost much, and probably will be remembered for some time if you add a personal touch.
Back when I was a U6 coach, I had a great group of kids called the McDonald’s Nuggets. Their gift to me was a T-Shirt that matched their uniforms, but on the back had ‘Coach Mike’ across the shoulders and then below it, each player’s first name scattered at various angles. I still wear it five years later, though it’s sadly starting to wear out.
Another neat gift I received was a simple team picture. But the picture was in a frame with a white matte that each player had signed themselves. It stands out among the many team pictures I have up on my wall.
However, gifts don’t always have to be personal to be remembered. One year, having seen me drag my practice soccer balls around in a ratty old mesh bag all year, one of my teams got me a really nice ball bag with shoulder straps. I still use it to this day. Another neat idea for the coach that has too much stuff to cart around is a team equipment bag with wheels. Another of my teams, knowing I was about to embark on coaching a travel team, where field facilities are unknown, got me a folding team bench. The kids on my teams love it!
But I have to say that I just got a coach’s gift from my U11 Girls team that is one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever gotten. I knew something was up towards the end of the season when our team manager kept reminding the girls to ‘bring their stuff’ back to her before the season ended. I had no clue, but figured they were personalizing something. At our end of season party the other day, each coach on the team got one of these:
It’s a simple 4×6 photo album. The first page shows the team photo, then after that, each top page is an action shot of each player, and the bottom page a 4×6 index card that the player in the picture wrote on. The girls didn’t just write ‘Thanks Coach!’ on the cards. Many talked about the things they had learned, the confidence they had gained, and the fun they had. Our team manager was in tears when she read them all after collecting them. I tried to get it to stay a bit more open, but you get the idea. Some of the girls got very creative in coloring their cards, using stickers, scrapbook stuff, colored markers, and more. The blue thing sticking out the top is a mini royal blue and yellow jersey like our league uniforms – very cool. After each player’s picture and index card are a few more action shots and then the ‘goofy team picture’ they took.
So if you’re trying to come up with an ideal coach’s gift, worry less about how much it’ll cost and more about how they’ll appreciate it over time.
What other neat ideas do you all have for coach’s gifts?