Postseason banquets help bring closure to fall athletics
Postseason banquets are great for players and families, but difficult for coaches of a second-year program, such as the Baldwin High School soccer team.
Last fall, coach Gus Wegner wasn't sure what to expect from his first BHS soccer banquet. With another year of coaching under his belt, Wegner knew how to host such an occasion last week.
"I had a better idea of what was going to work this year," Wegner said. "It was just better. I felt more comfortable, because I knew the kids a lot better."
Wegner changed several aspects of the evening and was surprised at how much better it became.
"It was an excellent turnout," Wegner said. "I like how the families were there, which is something we didn't have last year. It was very nice."
BHS senior soccer player Avery Baughan said this year's banquet was much improved from the first season.
"It was a little better this year," Baughan said. "It was a lot of fun remembering all of the stuff we did at Maple Leaf and practices. It was a good time."
Coaches host the postseason banquets to honor the players and help conclude the season.
"It helps bring closure at the end of the season," Wegner said. "It was nice to celebrate the year and talk about the players. Now the kids can move on to their other sports and activities."
The BHS soccer squad wasn't the only Bulldog team to hold its annual banquet last week. The BHS football and cross country teams also celebrated their seasons with food and awards.
Both ceremonies took place at 6 p.m. Sunday at Baldwin Junior High School and BHS. BHS cross country coach Mike Spielman always enjoys the banquets.
"It's a great way to end the season and put some closure to it," Spielman said. "It's also a chance for the seniors to be recognized one last time. All of the families get to come and we share the night together."
Senior Blake Wieden was glad to share one last evening with his former football teammates.
"It went well," Wieden said. "It was nice to be together as a team one last time. It was fun. Our season didn't go as well as we wanted to, but we ended it on a good note with that. I think everybody had a good time at it."
Baughan agreed about sharing one last memory with his soccer teammates.
"It was nice to see everybody in a group setting one more time," Baughan said. "It was also nice to see Gus and (coach) Matt (McCune)."
At the cross country banquet, Spielman takes time to talk about each senior and what that runner has meant to the program. The team is also given their letters or pins that night.
BHS football coach Mike Berg talked about the season and his seniors also. He also hands out footballs for his annual team awards.
"They gave out individual awards to certain players," Wieden said. "I got the defensive back of the year."
The senior soccer players received game balls that were signed by every member of the team.
"That's cool that we have something to remember everyone by," Baughan said. "Ten years down the road, you can bring it out and remember what you were a part of. That's awesome."
Each of the three banquets were potluck dinners as each family was required to bring a main dish or dessert. All three coaches said the different foods brought by each family make it a great meal.
"You always get a little different variety," Spielman said. "Everybody gets to bring their favorite meal and share it with everybody else."
BHS used to host an annual fall sports banquet, but stopped that in the mid '90s. After that each team began holding its own postseason meals.
"It's a great time for some reflection," Spielman said. "It's also good for any accolades that the kids get at the end of the season."