A team mom or dad usually organizes the party at a restaurant or a home with a potluck of sorts. All parents are asked to contribute monies toward coach's gifts and awards, payable at the party (The person who paid up front fro everything should send an email reminder about the gifts and to bring a check or cash).
As a coach, you must take the lead on scheduling events at the party and act as the master of ceremonies. Ahead of time, you should prepare your comments, reflecting upon the season, highlight and short segments about each player. Using a 3 x 5 card for each is a good way to be organized.
A proven way to start things off is to welcome everyone to the party, letting all know what will transpire and when.
Begin with getting the food out of the way. Serve the kids first. It will take them longer to eat because they will be engaged socializing with their teammates.
1) Announce you will be starting your comments in 5 minutes.
2) Begin your speaking segment thanking all who helped put on the party, assisted with scorekeeping during the year, communication, getting awards together, etc. Then thank your assistant coaches for giving their time to the effort.
3) Reflect upon the season. The things the team improved on collectively, memories from the season that you believe are worth sharing and savoring. Quoting well known coaches or players to highlight your thoughts works well.
4) Comments on the players. Keep them brief. Focus on effort and attitude, and how each improved throughout the year, perhaps recalling a moment in a game or practice that stands out in your mind. Also mention what you feel each player should do to improve their skills for next year.
5) Most important: It is time to make each player feel important. Eye contact... And when you call each player up to receive his award, shake hands and thank them for playing on the team.
6) Close your comments about your love of being in the gym with the kids, and how grateful you are that the parents have put their faith in you to the share the game with their children.
You can choose to give individual awards. At younger ages, you might wish to shy away from giving an MVP award. I suggest if you desire to hand out individual awards: Hustle award, Defense award, Passing award, Attitude award, or Captain award, signifying the player who gives the most to his teammates and makes basketball plays.
Scoring is what everyone wants to do, but giving awards for other aspects of the game may inspire your players to think more about other phases of the game, instead of scoring. More often than not, scoring is the result of someone on your team putting you in the position to score a basket.
Trophies vs. Certificates
I don't understand "trophy-mania", where every player gets a trophy. I believe it sends the wrong message to kids. Michael Jordan never received trophies for participating. And that's exactly what kids at the youth sport level are doing: participating. Jordan earned them for helping to win Championships and for significant achievements on the basketball court. Kids in youth sports haven't accomplished anything to earn a trophy. By giving trophies to players for participating, it creates a sense of entitlement.
Trophies are earned by Champions.
Would you give a trophy to your child for going to school? Would your boss give a trophy for showing up to work?
Trophies will get lost in your child's room, so much so, they won't remember why they received it in the first place... And when they do, I guarantee the meaningless pieces of plastic will be among the initial items thrown out when they look back at their athletic participation. I suggest crafting personalized certificates for your players, with a quote or a slogan on them... Something they can read. Something that inspires them to pause to reflect...
Pride is in participating, not in the false sense of entitlement that trophies create.