One idea that schools can employ for their football, baseball or softball teams is on-field tributes. During the last home game of the year, hold a short ceremony on the field. The announcer can do a short rundown on a player’s high school or college career and then call the player onto the field, escorted by his parents. Give the players a commemorative team jersey, flowers and a plaque or trophy of some sort. This can be done for indoor sports as well, including basketball and wrestling.
High schools and colleges can hold a banquet at the end of the season to honor departing seniors. Schools could even hold one banquet for all sports teams at the end of a school year. Students and their parents get dressed up for the event, which is usually a catered, upscale affair. Coaches and coaching staff should be at the head table. This is the opportunity for the coaches to provide an in-depth summary of each senior's accomplishments, sometimes an emotional experience. Give out awards for categories such as most valuable player, most improved, best attitude and best supporting player. Allow the seniors to each have a turn at speaking at the podium to thank their coaches and fellow teammates.
A video tribute to senior athletes can add touching and funny moments at a sports banquet. You can also do the senior tribute during another time, such as at a high school assembly, so the entire student body can see it. Create a video tribute that highlights a player's best moments in her sports career, and some funny ones as well. Enlist the help of the parents to provide baby pictures and home video of the athletes playing the sport at younger ages. Expect plenty of laughter and perhaps a few tears depending on the way the video gets put together.
Student Body Tributes
Involve the rest of the student body in paying tribute to the senior athletes. One idea is to paste life-sized pictures of each senior athlete in their uniform in a hallway. Have the students sign their names and any small, brief message they'd like to leave, such as "Way to go!" or "Thanks for the undefeated season!" Another idea is to surprise seniors with signs of support and congratulations on their team lockers when they come into the locker room after their last game. A booster club or the cheerleaders may need to be able to get into the locker room before the end of the game to pull this off. Cheerleaders can also lead the crowd in a standing ovation when a senior athlete makes his last play in the game.