Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
With age group championship meets around the corner, I have heartwarming memories from our team’s send-off parties for our Junior Olympic and National level swimmers. On a warm summer evening, the entire team would meet on deck after practice. Stacks of pizza boxes or a potluck would be organized by swim moms and dads—who also lined up goodie bags in neat rows on a folding table in front of the coaches.
One year, several parents wanted to end the goodie bags. I’d heard from other teams that goodie bags had been ditched, too. “I’m over the junky goodie bags,” one mom told me. Instead, they pooled the money families contributed and purchased gift cards or more substantial items. I always felt there was more to the goodie bag than the deck of cards, chapstick or granola bars inside. I was pleasantly surprised to once again pick out fun stuff for goodie bags at the college level.
Here are four reasons why goodie bags are more than what’s inside:
Attached to each goodie bag was a team bag tag with swimmers’ names and events for their championship meet. Our coaches would call each swimmer up in front of the entire team to read off what events they’d be swimming. The team would applaud and cheer while the swimmers peeked into their bags, enjoying a bit of recognition and reward.
The Little Ones.
When my kids were the youngest on the team, they looked at those goodie bags in awe. They were driven by the concept that one day they could be standing up front receiving a goodie bag from their coach. They couldn’t wait until they earned one for themselves. Goodie bags can inspire youngers to reach the next level.
The send-off party and the goodie bags brought our team together. There aren’t many times a year when the little kids get to hang out with the big kids, nor do families of the different groups get together. Team bonding is vital and the send-off party provides an opportunity to unite. The goodie bag is one part of bringing everyone together and continuing a team tradition.
Fun for Kids.
For years at Junior Olympics, I watched swimmers playing cards together, blowing bubbles and playing with other fun stuff from their bags. I’ll never forget the “clackers,” two acrylic balls held together by a string—a big hit with the kids, but the constant clacking annoyed nearby teams. The big kids and little ones actually brought their goodie bags on deck each day—which goes to show they enjoyed them.
What team traditions do you have before championship meets? Are goodie bags part of your celebration?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.