What Will Your Final Banquet Look Like?

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” – Shannon Alder

I’m proud to be a third-generation teacher-coach. My father and grandfather are hall of fame, career coaches. It has now been decades since my grandfather retired from coaching high school sports, but I still remember his final banquet. One of the items I remember was a shadow box on display with pictures and other mementos. In that display box was a quote that sticks with me yet today: “The only people who truly know your story are the ones who helped you write it.”

As this school calendar winds down and our spring season’s tournaments come to a close, teams across the country will gather to celebrate the stories written this year. For some coaches, this could be their final banquet. This moment will arrive for each of us some day, but an event we likely haven’t given much thought about. When it’s your turn, what do you want your last banquet to look like? If you had the choice between one banquet where the front table is filled with championship trophies and first-place medals, and another banquet that is simply filled with people you care about sharing heartfelt stories—which banquet would you choose?

My grandfather’s last banquet was filled with generations of athletes. The room was buzzing with hours of storytelling and laughter. Former players came from a few miles to many states away to reconnect with each other for a night. The gathering celebrated what’s great about sports and life—the relationships we hold and opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

How will you set the stage?

As you coach, how will you set the stage for this last banquet and your legacy? My grandfather coached many successful athletes and teams, never winning a championship—but he won the hearts of his student-athletes and they never forgot him. And when he retired, they came back to a celebration looking for him—not a table filled with trophies or medals. Someday when I retire, that’s the type of banquet I hope for. I can’t think of a more fulfilling moment than spending time with those who helped write my story!

“Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.” – Peter Strople