More Than Just a Banquet: Ideas for Honoring Your Seniors and Celebrating a Successful Season

More Than Just a Banquet: Ideas for Honoring Your Seniors and Celebrating a Successful Season

It’s important to celebrate success. For Prince Avenue Christian School, state champs three of the last four seasons, it starts with a sweatshirt and ends with a hug from dad.

Jared Frank
June 12, 2024

Coaches are wired to focus on the next play, series, game. “On to Cincinnati” Bill Belichick once famously quipped. And while disciplined focus to dominate what can be controlled now, rather than looking back or too far ahead at what is uncontrollable, is a winning mindset, there comes a time in every football season where there are no more games to play.

Coaches have next year. Seniors do not. So it’s important to take time to celebrate each season as part of a positive life experience.

A successful season means something different to every program. A big win against a rival is the cherry on top for some teams. For others, a conference championship is a meaningful achievement. For Prince Avenue Christian School in Athens, Georgia, a state championship is expected.

“We’re at the point [in our program] where at the end of every season, we want to win the state championship,” says Greg Vandagriff, Prince Avenue Head Coach. “We don’t want to play for the state championship. We want to win the state championship.”

Regardless of where your program and its expectations are at, when you achieve a successful season, celebrate it unabashedly.

“Every season deserves to be celebrated, but especially when you do something special,” says Keith Grabowski, host of Coach and Coordinator Podcast. “And that might mean doing more than people expected.”

I want what is in their heart to come out... There is hardly a dry eye in [the room].”

Exceeding Expectations

We are all familiar with the end-of-the-season banquet. It remains a great opportunity to recognize players, pass out awards, include parents, take pictures, and teach young men how to knot a necktie.

There’s nothing wrong with banquets. But are they enough? They can feel obligatory and tired at times. So coaches must elevate those experiences and find unexpected ways to show appreciation to players, parents, and all program supporters for 12 months of hard work and years of sacrifice.

“We take our time with the banquet,” says Vandagriff. “It is always towards the end of January. We celebrate our seniors. And we want people to understand it’s hard to win a championship. A lot of things have to happen. You’ve got to have some good fortune. You’ve got to have good players. You’ve got to have good parental support. It’s just not easy to win the championship.”

Signature Championship Rings

Prince Avenue has had an incredible run in eight seasons under Greg Vandagriff. A 97-12 record overall, 54-4 in the last four years, and state championships three of the last four seasons, including back-to-back in 2022 and 2023.

To immortalize those championship seasons, Prince Avenue partners with Signature Championship Rings.

“They really go in detail about what the ring looks like, what the size looks like, what you want to engrave on the inside,” Vandagriff says. “And so, they do everything first-class and affordable.”

The 2023 ring commemorates the three state championships won by this year’s senior class. The Prince Avenue logo overlays a silhouette of three bejeweled trophies displayed in the ring’s head. The side panels feature a helmet inset in an outline of the state of Georgia flanked by name and position, as well as the year and record of this season.

“We’ve done [a ring] that is sort of black. We did one that’s sort of white. And we’ve done a little bit of everything now,” says Vandagriff. “So again, [Signature Championship Rings] does a great job… I couldn’t say things well enough about them or long enough about them to give them justice.”

Sweatshirt Exclusivity

Before the rings come the sweatshirts. When Prince Avenue wins a regional championship, the players are gifted a sweatshirt to recognize their accomplishment. These threads are for the players only. They are not available for purchase by the student body or outside community.

The sweatshirts are a simple way to produce an aspirational carrot in front of the team, help players feel special and valued, and brand the team in the school hallways.

“It’s a big deal if they get to wear [one of those sweatshirts],” Vandagriff says. “We only have 85 made. So to get one of those sweatshirts, you had to have blood, sweat, and tears to get it.”

Success Has Many Fathers

Every season does not result in a state championship for every team. But every team can still cultivate traditions and rituals that become the foundation for a program’s culture of success. At Prince Avenue, Greg Vandagriff and the Wolverines hold a father-son dinner for the seniors.

“I grew up without a father,” says Vandagriff. “So I didn’t have these conversations. I didn’t hear my father say ‘hey, I love you, and I care about you’ and those things that every young man needs to hear.”

So every year, Coach Vandagriff assembles his seniors and their fathers, or other male role models, for a casual dinner in a disarming setting. Vandagriff prepares three prompts for the fathers and sons to say a few words in front of the group. They do not see those prompts until the night of the dinner to evoke their most authentic emotions.

“I want what is in their heart to come out,” Vandagriff says. “I’m trying to get them to look at each other and say, ‘I want you to know that I love you.’ And I want them to have to say it in front of everybody in the room. There is hardly a dry eye in [the room].”

Win, lose, or draw, that love between father and son is always worth celebrating. CC Logo

About Signature Championship Rings:
Signature Championship Rings is a leading designer and supplier of championship rings, serving over 10,000 teams and organizations. With a focus on quality craftsmanship, easy team ordering processes, and affordability, Signature Champions celebrate every champion and their achievements, making their moment last a lifetime. For more information, visit