BY LEANNE BROWN
Whether your team is celebrating a big win or just getting together while away at a tournament, the team dinner is an event that everyone loves. But not all team dinners are successful. Long waits for food, inadequate seating and lack of food diversity can turn a fun event into a nightmare.
Planning the team meal is typically the responsibility of the manager or parents that have formed a team social committee. Sometimes its an impromptu post-game breakfast or its the tournament dinner at a restaurant or at the hotel. Here are some tips to make planning the team meal easy:
The Impromptu Meal
You’ve just finished an early morning game. Your players are hungry. Someone suggests going to a local dinner for breakfast. Call ahead first and ask the diner if they can accommodate you. Let them know that its okay if you can’t all sit together. Be accommodating with seating and prepared to wait a little. Be sure to thank them for “fitting you in” so that they will be willing to accommodate you again.
The Tournament Meal
When planning a team restaurant meal during a tournament weekend, you absolutely need to plan way ahead. Every other team travelling to the tournament is also looking to set up a team dinner, so you need to book your location early. Chain restaurants are the best bet for this type of meal as they’re experienced with serving large groups and may even have a party room. They have diverse menus to please everyone and always have a kid’s menu. Ask for two tables: One for the kids and one for the adults. Include the sibling headcount in the kids table count.
To help your server and speed things up, tell your server in advance that you require separate bills by family. Use jersey numbers when ordering. For example; if your player is number 12, then Mom, Dad, and siblings are also number 12. This way all the family’s meals end up on the same bill.
Meals between games pose a challenge due to limited time. Advise the server of your need to get out on time when reserve. Have everyone choose their food in advance and send in the menu selections before your team arrives. This way your food comes out quickly.
The Hotel Meal
If your team has an early game the next day, consider ordering in a meal to the hotel. Let the hotel staff know the plan and they will often provide a space for your team to gather in. Pre-order the meal a week before and then divide the cost per person. Popular food for this meal is a variety of pasta dishes, salads, trays of fruit, veggies, and desserts. Be sure to have plain pasta for the fussy ones and some gluten free as well. Ask the restaurant to provide cutlery and plates. To save costs, pick up a couple of cases of water and pop from the local grocery store when you arrive at your destination.