Athletic Banquet for Christopher Newport University’s Senior Athletes

Athletic Banquet for Christopher Newport University’s Senior Athletes
Prepared by: Jennifer Westerholm

 To: Christopher Newport University Athletic Director

From: Jennifer Westerholm

Subject: Athletic Banquet for Christopher Newport University’s Senior Athletes

Date: 9/20/2015

Purpose: The purpose of this proposal is to begin the tradition of hosting an athletic banquet for all senior athletes at Christopher Newport University.

Summary: The athletic department at Christopher Newport University offers a variety of team sports with hundreds of student-athletes. This department in the university sets the standard for success by ranking nationally in each of its teams. Every year there are numerous senior athletes that spend hours training and preparing for competition and practice.

Because athletes at CNU are held to extremely high standards they are expected to perform well on their teams as well as in the classroom. This requires an abundance of dedication and time management. I seek an opportunity to celebrate the efforts put in throughout each individual’s four-year journey, the University should host an athletic banquet to recognize that year’s graduating class.

To perform this research I surveyed a percentage of each athletic entity and received a sense of how each athlete perceived the situation. This qualitative research study used a phenomenological approach and proves the need for this recognition ceremony.

If you have any questions about this research, please contact Jennifer Westerholm at or 540.903.6272


“Athletic Banquet for Christopher Newport University’s Senior Athletes”

Prepared By: Jennifer Westerholm

Throughout the fall of 2015, Jennifer Westerholm, a student-athlete at Christopher Newport University, conducted a study to propose hosting a recognition ceremony for the university’s senior athletes. Christopher Newport currently does not host a formal ceremony each year to show appreciation for the seniors who have contributed so much to the department. Members of each athletic team have repeatedly voiced their concerns about feeling unappreciated and a formal ceremony would allow an opportunity for athletes to be recognized. To gather research for this study, a nine-question survey was created and distributed to members on each athletic team. The survey prompted athletes to answer questions about their experiences as an athlete, personal accomplishments, views on a senior banquet, and specific events they would like to see involved in a ceremony. An analysis of the data concluded that an overwhelming amount of student-athletes surveyed feel like they contribute a great amount to the department and would enjoy a chance to reflect on their accomplishments. To solve this problem, the athletic department at Christopher Newport University should hold an annual recognition ceremony for all senior athletes to celebrate their accomplishments throughout their four-year experience. Many respondents voiced their concerns about their hard work going unnoticed and believe they deserve a small ceremony to feel appreciated. The discussion of balancing school and athletics was also a popular topic because student-athletes believe that because they have multiple obligations around campus they are putting in an excessive amount of time and energy that should be praised. A ceremony during the spring semester of the athletes’ senior year would allow for the university to give back to their student body and leave the athletes feeling valuable and appreciated. The athletic department at Christopher Newport University should consider this request for a senior athletic banquet to boost the department’s morale, continue producing great athletes, and provide an incentive for athlete retention.

Keywords: Athlete, Student, Banquet, Ceremony, Recognition


The athletic department at Christopher Newport University gives student-athletes the chance to show their talent in their sport, and in the classroom. Athletes have the opportunity to travel, compete, and train with decorated coaches and assistants. Student-athletes have numerous opportunities within the athletic department and are highly satisfied with the standard of excellence, however, Christopher Newport does not formally recognize its senior athletes at the end of each year.

Athletes are required to dedicate on average, 3 to 5 hours a day at practice or team activities. Student-athletes are also required to take a minimum of twelve credits to compete in their sport. These busy days require good time management skills, planning, and focus to succeed in both disciplines. Athletes at Christopher Newport know their main priority is maintaining good academic standing with the university and they pride themselves on their great work on the field and in the classroom. This is why it is important to recognize the hard work and talent of each athlete at the end of their time at the university. Without a formal banquet held for Christopher Newport’s senior athletes, the student-athletes do not get to see the accomplishments for the athletic department as a whole, and also have feelings of being under appreciated.

The addition of an athletic banquet would allow coaches and athletes to reflect on everything they have accomplished individually and as a team. This also would allow for them to celebrate their four-year journey at Christopher Newport University. Having a recognition ceremony would be a positive addition to the university and greatly benefit the morale of the department, creating unity among all of the university’s athletic teams.

Theory Approach – Phenomenological

A phenomenological approach was used to conduct research for this proposal. A phenomenological study “describes how a particular experience affects a group of individuals as a whole” (Creswell). This approach was chosen for this proposal to help describe the actual experiences of athletes on Christopher Newport’s campus. This research study is phenomenological because it is based on a common experience that can be examined. The argument proposed in this study benefits form this approach because it focuses on experiences of individual athletes and teams as a whole.

Research Methods and Findings:

To best determine if there is a need for a banquet for senior athletes, the following research was conducted:

A qualitative survey of twenty-one student athletes representing twelve sports teams on Christopher Newport University’s campus revealed the true feelings about being recognized as a student-athlete. A survey was created and distributed using SurveyMonkey, a popular online survey creator. The purpose of this survey was to see if having a senior banquet would make senior athletes feel more appreciated for their hard work on and off the field. The outcome of this survey was extremely in favor of having a recognition ceremony. Athletes’ expressed that they dedicate so much time and energy into their teams, as well as in the classroom and believe that they should be appreciated for it. Student-athletes also voiced their opinions about how difficult it is to maintain good grades while spending 3 to 5 hours a day at practice or team activities. The athletes surveyed also supported the idea of the senior banquet so they could see the accomplishments of all of the seniors at the school, not only on their individual team. Christopher Newport prides itself on being a family and it would only make sense to allow the athletes to all celebrate their accomplishments together.

The research gathered from this survey showed that even though the athletes at this university love their teams, they feel unappreciated for everything they have contributed throughout their four years. If a banquet is held for senior athletes it would allow time for coaches to recognize the accomplishments of their individual athletes and team as a whole. This ceremony would also give new athletes entering in to the program something to look forward to once they put in as much work and effort as their elders.

Student-athletes at Christopher Newport University will greatly benefit from having a banquet at the end of their senior year. 90.48% of athletes surveyed reported they would definitely go to a senior banquet, and 9.52% said they would possibly attend. This data shows that having a ceremony would be a very positive experience for the department and University as a whole.

The survey asked athletes to explain how difficult it is to balance athletic and academic responsibilities. Over half of the respondents, 80.96%, said it was moderately or very difficult to do so. This data shows that student-athletes are under an incredible amount of pressure to perform on the field and in the classroom.

Figure 1: Difficulty Balancing Athletic and Academic Responsibilities

chart 1

When asked what student-athletes would like to see at a senior banquet they responded favorable to each of the options listed below. Participants also voiced that there should be superlative awards that allow coaches and teammates to create lighthearted and humorous awards that represent each of their senior athletes.

Figure 2: What the Banquet Should Include

chart 2

Data Analysis

To analyze the data gathered from the survey, a word cloud was created to show the relationship between student-athletes and their need to feel appreciated. The purpose of the free-response questions asked in the survey were to prompt athletes to expand on their experiences within their sports and express their feelings towards being recognized. As pictured below, respondents showed a strong use of the words “recognized” and “hard work.” This word cloud suggests that student-athletes spend a great deal of time focusing on their sport and believe they should be recognized for everything they contribute. The overall impression of this visual greatly represents the feelings of student-athletes on Christopher Newport University’s campus. The frequency of specific words used within the free-response questions provides enough evidence to show the need for a senior banquet.

Figure 3: Word Cloud

chart 3 (2)



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