An Ode To The Goodie Bag

by SwimSwam Contributors 2

June 12th, 2017 Lifestyle

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

With age group championship meets around the corner, I have heartwarming memories from our teams 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 dadswho 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. Id heard from other teams that goodie bags had been ditched, too. Im 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 whats 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 theyd 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 couldnt wait until they earned one for themselves. Goodie bags can inspire youngers to reach the next level.


Shared Experience.

The send-off party and the goodie bags brought our team together. There arent 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.

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Cynthia Hicks
4 years ago

Yep, we still do goodie bags for age groups champs and JOs. Mostly snack foods, but also a special cap and an iced sugar cookie topped with a specially made custom edible icing disc for each meet that everyone covets. At first the coaches didn’t want “junk” food in the bag, but let’s face it – the swimmers down that cookie in two bites, max, and the calories are negligible to a swimmer! For team travel meets, usually by van within a five hour drive, they get other little games or sunglasses, plus customized shirts. Sectionals and National level qualifiers get a personalized team jacket or backpack. You’re so right – the younger kids really want to earn those special… Read more »

Aimee Schmitt
4 years ago

It’s not the item as much as mile marking a memory of a significant event in the kids’ journey. The meets often blurr together over time–but stopping to cherish a significant phase is important to our psyches as well. Love that you wrote about this!