It’s Graduation Season

There are those graduation traditions that we all know such as wearing caps and gowns, “Pomp and Circumstance”, and throwing your cap in the air. But where did these traditions start?

Common Graduation Traditions

Back before universities had heating, graduates would wear long robes and hoods to keep warm during their promotional ceremonies. By the 12th century, robes and caps became representative of academic status. Today, caps and gowns are the essential attire of both high school and college graduations (source).

Mortarboards, which get their names from tools that are used to hold masonry mortars, are often tossed in the air at the end of a ceremony. This tradition began in 1912 at the Naval Academy. Before 1912, graduates had to serve as midshipmen for two years after graduation before coming naval officers. The year 1912 marked the year when students became officers right after graduation and got new hats. So, at the end of their ceremony, they tossed their hats in the air signifying that they no longer needed them. This caught on and eventually became a nation-wide tradition (source).

While graduates walk during their ceremonies, “Pomp and Circumstance” often plays in the background. In 1901, Sir Edward Elgar composed “March No. 1 in D Major”, which was part of a 30 year long military march composition. In 1905, he was invited to receive an honorary doctorate at Yale and the school played parts of his composition while students marched in. “March No. 1 in D Major” was so well-liked it caught on with many schools and it has been played in auditoriums and stadiums for graduations ever since (source).

Graduation Gift Ideas

Cylindrical raw wood wine holder engraved with "Congratulations, Kelly!"

Raw wood wine holder engraved for a graduate

Graduating from a university is a huge feat. Relatives and friends come out to attend the ceremonies and celebrations, oftentimes bearing gifts. It’s nice to give monetary gifts, but what if you want to give something more creative? Tempe Trophy has a few ideas for you.

Gold trophy with a computer on a black marble base

Custom trophy made for a graduate from her parents

What degree or title is your graduate graduating with? Customers have come in to create awards, plaques, or to engrave specific items that are specific to their major. As you can see below, we made a little computer trophy that was a gift from a computer science major’s parents. We did a commemorative plaque for a film major. We even have marble mortar and pestles that would make great gifts for pharmacy majors. Our shop has also come across a lot of stethoscopes that can be engraved for pre-med and nursing majors.

Our more universal gifts include an engraved Space Pen, which isn’t an ordinary pen. The space pen can be used to write in all kinds of conditions. Here’s a great message for the card: “For wherever life takes you.” We also always have black, silver, navy, green, and pink Zippo lighters in stock. Here’s a great message for that card: “To help you light the way.” Cheesy, but pretty good, right?

Engraved space pen in original box and brass engraved text

Engraved space pen

While we can put together gifts for you, we can also engrave items you bring in. An item versus an item customized with the recipient’s name, is much more personal. It makes it seem like you spent more time on it. Meanwhile, you just have to give it to us to work on.

For the Graduates

Whatever you do, don’t buy the diploma frames from the company that sells them on campus. We can frame your diploma for way less and include an engraved plate with whatever information you’d like to include. Our shop can even color print a copy of your diploma on aluminum in case you’d like your real diploma to be safe and sound somewhere else. Whether a graduate or a graduate’s family member or friend, Tempe Trophy is the place for all of your graduation needs.

March Madness Basketball is in Full Effect

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Trophy

2017 NCAA Men's Basketball National Champion Trophy (Source: NCAA)

2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion Trophy (Source: NCAA)

After upset after upset, this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I Tournament defines the term March Madness. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to get a perfect bracket. My bracket was finished after number 1 seed UVA, who I chose to take the chip, lost to number 16 seed UMBC in the FIRST ROUND. Despite disappointing bracket choices, watching the March Madness games is nonetheless very exciting. It’s always a mystery who will take home the iconic NCAA championship trophy.

The trophy, with its gold detailing, sandblasted glass center, and engraved “National Champion” plate, is prestigious. MTM Recognition, the awards company that makes these awards also makes items such as the Special Olympics Torch.

Seeing the NCAA Championship Trophy 

Last year, when the Final Four games were held right here in Arizona, I got to see the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Trophy up close at the Final Four Fan Fest. It was as prestigious as it is to win the tough tournament. With all sport lover’s eyes on the tournament, the trophy is also well-watched. Last year’s March Madness viewership broke records. According to the NCAA, across the four networks that broadcast the games, there was an average of 9.325 million viewers which was up 10% from 2016. I am sure that this year will be similar. 

Put a Basketball Trophy in Your Own Hands

Fantasy Basketball Armchair Basketball Player Trophy

Fantasy Basketball Armchair Basketball Player Trophy Bronze

Maybe you’re not much of a basketball player and more of a basketball watcher. Don’t fear, there are ways you can get your paws on a trophy. Did you and your friends create a bracket competition? We’ve got the perfect trophy for the one who chose the best bracket… the armchair basketball player. Suiting, huh?

Now you might just want a smaller, less extravagant trophy if your group’s pot isn’t large enough to take much from. We’ve got trophies that fit the bill. Here are our cartoon trophy, sneaker trophy, and 360 trophy.

And if you’re looking for something more fun and unique, say hello to our bobble head basketball player trophy.


Basketball Bobble Head Trophy

Basketball Bobble Head Trophy


In Baseball, These Awards Would Be a Homerun

Baseball Trophies That Wow

Spring training has begun. Tempe Trophy is the best place to order a custom trophy for your fantasy league, little league, or any other tournament you may be part of. Not only do we have an assortment of awards you can choose from, but we can work with you to create a custom award. For the pictured “NJCAA Golden Glove Award,” a customer wanted to dress up the original award to make it more formal-looking and that’s what we did.

Josh Bristyan Wins the Golden Glove

At the end of every National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) baseball season, outstanding players get awarded the Golden Glove Award. Together, the sporting goods company Rawlings and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) award the best players the Golden Glove. Last season, local junior college baseball player Josh Bristyan was one of 

the winners for NJCAA Division II. Bristyan was the freshman shortstop for the Paradise Valley Community College Pumas. He is only one of three Pumas to ever receive the Golden Glove Award.

Bristyan’s coach came into our shop with the Rawlings Golden Glove, which was still in the box, and told us that it didn’t fit the achievements of its winner. With a .971 fielding percentage, 181 assists, and 88 putouts, Bristyan needed a more prestigious-looking award.

Tempe Trophy added not only an engraved gold on black plate, but a sturdy wooden base shaped like home plate. It was a nice touch to the beautiful golden glove and made it look more fitting for the NJCAA star.

Fantasy Baseball Awards

The season is fresh. This means, it’s the perfect time for fantasy leagues to pick out the award for their winners. It’ll be something to look forward to throughout the season. Tempe Trophy has an assortment of regular baseball awards that can be used for the fantasy leagues and has fantasy-specific awards as well. 

Similar to the Copper Armchair Quarterback we have a Copper Armchair for baseball fans who strategically work with the stats to run their league from their living room. We also have fun baseball bobblehead trophies for baseball fantasy leagues.

Baseball, Softball, and T-Ball

Tempe Trophy doesn’t just have baseball trophies. We carry trophies for nearly every sport which means we also have softball and even t-ball trophies. Each of these trophies can be customized in any way that a customer wants. We have created custom trophies with add-ons to the trophy aside from the design of the plate.

Valentine’s Day Traditions

Engraved red mug that says "I love you"

Engraved Red Mug

The History of Valentine’s Day

Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Although it is a holiday full of mushy romanticism, its origins are rather gory. From February 13th to 15th, the ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. During the feast, men would sacrifice a goat and dog and take the hides of those animals and whip women. The women thought it would make them fertile. There was also a match-making lottery where the men would pick the names of women and they would be paired for the rest of the festival. In the 300s A.D., a Roman Emperor executed two different men by the name of Valentine during two different feasts of Lupercalia. The Catholics named those men saints and the name St. Valentine’s Day was born. Over time, St. Valentine’s Day and the feast were warped together and it evolved into a yearly celebration of love (source).

Saint Valentine Drawing

Saint Valentine

Valentine’s Day Traditions

From candy grams to roses, Valentine’s Day has many modern traditions that are practiced around the world. According to the Huffington Post, Danish people give out “snowdrops,” pressed white flowers. In South Korea, women are the ones who give candy and flowers to men. In South Africa, women pin the names of their crushes on their sleeves which is how the men learn who their admirers are.

Here in the U.S., I have seen many traditions practiced. We give out Valentine’s Day grams to all of our elementary school classmates. Bouquets are given out to the people we love, from our moms to our significant others. Convenient stores and supermarkets are always filled with teddy bears and even balloons weeks in advanced. Unlike South Korea, it’s usually a tradition that the men woo their women with gifts of jewelry and flowers. New traditions are always forming. What unique traditions have you seen?

Gift Ideas

Change up your Valentine’s Day gift giving by personalizing it through engraving. Tempe Trophy can engrave nearly any flat surface, and even some curved surfaces. Here are some of the awesome things you could give your loved ones:

We’ve engraved watches, champagne glasses, and even fidget spinners for people to give to their beloved. One customer brought in their hummingbird figurine to customize. It was an already great piece that was made special through a personalized engraving.

Love Locks

Our love locks are a huge hit throughout the year and especially during Valentine’s. They’re a cool way to represent never ending love by permanently locking it onto a bridge, gate, or on a tree during wedding ceremonies. Engraved text can include names, a date, or even a short message onto the locks. We have a silver hand-forged love lock, gold hand-forged love lock, classic double heart love lock, and mini love lock.

Best of Tempe Trophy

Best of Tempe Trophy

Norma awarding the Cafe Rio staff with a Best of Tempe Trophy award.

Norma awarding the Cafe Rio staff with a Best of Tempe Trophy award.

Recently, Tempe Trophy has been giving out awards to staff-picked restaurants for specific dishes or drinks that we like. Personally handing off each appreciative award helps us meet with these businesses. We’re able to show them that we love their food and enjoy creating relationships with other businesses. The best part is watching the workers and owners automatically light up when they receive our awards. It’s very rewarding for us to be able to recognize good service.

Cafe Rio, Bosa Donuts, Spinato’s

The first award was chosen by our manager. Norma gave the Tempe location of Cafe Rio an award for having the “Best Sweet Pork Tacos.” When she went to give it to the staff, they were all happy to be recognized and encouraged for a group photo to be taken.

The second award was chosen by me. As an avid Bosa Donut patron, I decided to award them with the “Best Taro Slush with Boba.” It’s my favorite drink to order from them. As Tempe Trophy’s across the street neighbor, it’s a great place to go on lunch breaks. The staff member who accepted the award on Bosa Donut’s behalf really appreciated it. If you’re ever at Tempe Trophy and feel like getting a refreshment, head over to Bosa and you can check out our award.

The third award was chosen by Sue. She declared that Spinato’s Pizzeria has the “Best Thin Crust Pizza.” When she went in to Spinato’s to eat with her family and hand over the award, she got to meet the owner himself—Spinato. He was really excited to receive the award on behalf of his restaurant. I’m glad we got to catch those moments in picture form.

Know any exceptional businesses?

We love handing out awards and there will be many more coming! Although Tempe Trophy staff have been choosing which restaurants to award, if you know any exceptional businesses, we’re open to nominations. Just let us know who and why they deserve it. We’re open to recognizing not only restaurants, but any businesses. Submit a nomination here.

Color Fun at the Color Run

Tempe Trophy gif of team getting covered in yellow color

Color Vibe 5k in Tempe

It’s essential for the Tempe Trophy staff to work as a team. As a shop with about seven employees, the workload requires everyone to communicate well and not be afraid to ask for a helping hand. We also value having a good time together. Last Saturday, the Tempe Trophy team took on the Color Vibe 5k at the Arizona Mills Mall. All of us attended and even brought our family members to enjoy the color run.

Tempe Trophy Team dancing after the Color Vibe 5k

Tempe Trophy Team dancing after the Color Vibe 5k

The Color Vibe 5k is a run (or walk) where all participants get showered with colored powder by each other or through color stations. There was also a lot of dancing in the beginning and the end of the run. From the Tempe Trophy team members to the little kids in our group, we all had a lot of fun being messy with the fascinating colors.

Before and After

The Tempe Trophy crew and family and friends before the start of the 5k

The Tempe Trophy crew and family and friends before the start of the 5k

Before we began the 5k, we all met up to take a photo. When the race started, we all went at our own paces. Most of the people in attendance were walking or sprinting as opposed to running the whole 3 miles. We turned out to have 3 groups. Jason’s family led in the front  with their energized little kids. Most of the staff walked together to the finish line where we all received a cool Color Vibe medal made out of rubber.

Until the music was over, we threw around our remaining color packets and danced in front of the DJ on the stage. We also took an after photo, which came out way more colorful than the “before.”

The Tempe Trophy crew and family and friends after completing the 5k

The Tempe Trophy crew and family and friends after completing the 5k

The Team Shares Their Experience

Seeing each other almost everyday, the Tempe Trophy team has become its own little family. Personally, I loved attending the color run because it was great to step out of the work environment with the team for a change. It reminded me of our mid-year celebration at Main Event where we all got to bowl and play laser tag together. I’m glad my first color run was with the Tempe Trophy team.

On account of some unfortunate chafing, Jason said, “I wish I had followed Andy from “The Office” and been prepared for this very real danger. If you or someone you love is a slightly soggy middle aged man attempting a “Fun Run” please warn them of this very real danger!”

One of our newer team members Aubrey said, “Walking the Color Run was the first time that I’d ever done any fun activity as coworkers, and it was a very delightful experience. It definitely strengthened my relationships with my fellow co-workers. It was great to see a fun side to everyone, a blast was definitely had by all.” It was hard not to have fun with colors flying everywhere.

Norma, our shop manager, said, “This was my first 5k ever. I was a little intimidated because I thought it was a run and I just don’t run—unless a clown is chasing me. I was anxious when I got there and saw lots of people but my Tempe Trophy Crew helped to ease my worries. Most of us walked together the whole time and it was so fun. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to do this walk with my people and hope to do it many more times.”

Tempe Trophy Team post-Color Vibe 5k

Tempe Trophy Team post-Color Vibe 5k

Halloween: The Best Costume Award

A Zombie, Jack-o-Lantern, Witch, and Scarecrow trophy in front of pumpkins.

Tempe Trophy’s Halloween Trophy Collection

An Unsuspecting Trophy-Giving Holiday

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Halloween? It originated from an old Celtic holiday called the festival of Samhain. People would light bonfires and dress up to scare away ghosts. Later on, Pope Gregory II created All Saints Day to honor all saints and used traditions from the Celtic day. The night before was called All Hollows Eve and later, Halloween. The practicies eventually came to the United States through some colonists and then heavily with Irish immigrants during the potato famine. Centuries later, the day has transformed into the costume and candy-driven celebration that we know today.

If you thought there were no awards given out on Halloween, think again. There are many different “Best” trophies that you can give away to trick-or-treaters, passersby, and partygoers. Tempe Trophy has an assortment of silly Halloween awards that are perfect for the scary holiday. From pumpkins to witches to skulls, here are our superlatives.

Can’t Go Wrong with Pumpkins on Halloween

Pumpkins are a Halloween staple. If not real jack-o-lanterns, than pumpkin trophy toppers! The laid back jack-o-lantern scarecrow is the perfect piece to a “99 Problems but a Witch Ain’t One” Award. It’s a fun award for the person at your party whose costume screams “Most Single.” Everyone is sure to get a laugh out of that one. We’ve also created a cute dance-off trophy topped by a pumpkin with flexible arms and legs.

Corporate Award of a Glass Blown Pumpkin on a Black Base

Corporate Halloween-Themed Pumpkin Award

Not only do we have fun Halloween awards, but we also have corporate or professional-style awards such as the blown glass pumpkin. This elegant award can be used as a best costume trophy for the office party. The glass pumpkin can also be carried into November and can be used as a Thanksgiving awards. Is your company honoring someone for their excessive attendance at the food bank?

Creepy Characters

Pumpkins are essential to Halloween, but so are all of the classic creepy characters. We have unique figurines to put on top of your Halloween awards such as the zombie, witch, and headless skeleton. They are all put on a base with a custom plate. Do you have any good punny phrases? We’ve come up with a few play on lyrics plates: “99 Problems, but a Witch Ain’t One” and “Hotter than a Son of a Witch.”

Skull Liquor Bottle on Black Marble Base

Skull Liquor Bottle Made into a Trophy

Halloween coffin-shaped Engraved Flasks

Coffin-shaped Engraved Flasks

Along with these Halloween trophy toppers, we’ve got a few items that are a perfect addition to your Halloween party. Below is a skull-shaped liquor bottle that was placed on a base to create a unique costume award. Aside from awards, we have engraved miniature coffin flasks. This is the perfect Halloween party favor for the adults!

Honoring a Fallen Soldier Through a Beautiful Bronze Plaque

Bronze cast plaque dedicated to Mykel Miller

Bronze cast plaque dedicated to Mykel Miller

PFC Mykel Miller, U.S. Army

On September 6th, 2007, PFC Mykel F. Miller of the U.S. Army was killed in action during his first tour to Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom. To honor the 10th anniversary of his death, his mother Maria Miller asked Tempe Trophy to help her create a bronze cast plaque which was cemented under a bench at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.

Mykel joined the Arizona Army National Guard Phoenix and completed his basic training in Georgia after graduating from Desert Vista High School in 2006. The 19-year-old hero had a deep passion for motorcycles and was even part of the “Devil Riders” club. Today he survives by his loving family, his mother Maria, stepfather David, and two younger brothers.

Mykel's plaque sits under a bench at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.

Mykel’s plaque under the memorial bench at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.

Honoring a Fallen Hero

This past September 6th, Mykel’s family, friends, and platoon got together at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona where his plaque was unveiled. His mother Maria told us that the person at the cemetery who mounted the plaque under the bench said he’d seen many plaques and this was the most beautiful one. We are glad that his family loved the plaque.

The Bronze Cast Plaque Process


Due to the extensive work needed to create a bronze cast plaque this project began early in May of this year. Mykel’s mother sent us a rough sketch of what she wanted the plaque to look like and I took the photos she sent and designed a real-life version. We went back and forth with edits and eventually came out with the final design.

Bronze cast plaque dedicated to Mykel Miller

Bronze cast plaque dedicated to Mykel Miller

Tempe Trophy first approached a bronze casting company who told us that the job wouldn’t be able to be done due to the details in the image. We couldn’t give up that easily on such an important memorial. The second company we spoke to, Matthews International, worked with us to get it done. Together, we made a few adjustments to the design, and they had us double the size of the plaque from 9 x 12 inches to 18 x 24 inches. The larger design ended up fitting really well under the large bench. Matthews International even expedited the creation of the plaque in order for us to get it to Maria before the ceremony date.

Meaningful Projects

After designing this plaque and researching a bit about Mykel, his story and the love he receives from his family has touched me emotionally. The meaningful projects we receive such as baby announcement plaques to engraving wedding cake cutters to even the quirky fantasy football trophies allows our work to feel more personal. We feel connected to our customers and it makes working at Tempe Trophy so very rewarding. One of the best feelings is seeing the look in the eyes of a customer who loves the item they received from us. Tempe Trophy thanks all of its customers for bringing in stories that can stick with us forever.

Bronze cast plaque dedicated to Mykel Miller

Bronze cast plaque dedicated to Mykel Miller

Working with Arizona State University

ASU Trusts Tempe Trophy with Their Awards

Arizona State University, with 17 separate colleges and institutes and over 1,000 student organizations, is always in need of trophies, plaques, medals, and other custom projects. Tempe Trophy is just a stone’s throw away from the biggest and “best” university in Arizona, although I may be a little bias as an Sun Devil myself. We do a lot of great projects for ASU students, faculty, and organizations.

Custom engraved name badge for ASU with magnetic back, engraved by Tempe Trophy

We provide awards for various organizations and departments within the school. As a local Tempe engraver, right down the road from ASU’s, we get to do a lot of great projects with them. Tempe Trophy is the best place to go when the an organization needs a job done. From plaques to trophies to custom name badges, we can customize items for any event. In fact, the picture to the right is one of the name badges that engrave for ASU. This particulate name badge was done on a custom cast acrylic specifically for ASU. We commissioned a special run of maroon and gold acrylic so we could create their high durability name badges.


The Engraved Plaque Expert

This past school year, the Information Systems Department at the W.P Carey School of Business awarded several high-achieving professors. Tempe Trophy created a stately plaque shaped like the state of Arizona with simple gold detailing on a black plate. Six of these plaques were made, all identical except for the recipient details and character of the wood. We only put out the best products and these awards came out clean and high quality. 

Tempe Trophy has much experience in creating plaque awards. A couple of other plaque projects we have conquered in the past include a display case for an ASU PhD student’s work and an award for the Graduate and Professional Student Association. We created a display case for PhD student’s blood separator prototype. It is labeled with an engraved black plate with silver detailing. The GPSA award is engraved gold on a maroon circular plaque to represent the ASU colors.


Custom Projects for Student Organizations

Among the over 1,000 student organizations at ASU comes the Greek-letter organizations. Being prideful of the Greek-letter gal myself, I know that each fraternity and sorority pride themselves on recognizing and fostering greatness which is often best expressed publicly with awards. Tempe Trophy has engraved everything from fun kickball trophies to serious plaques recognizing the contributions of past presidents, mentors and the like.

A couple of other Arizona State organizations that we have worked with include the Indian Students Association, Veterans Association, NROTC, Tillmans Scholars Program, Chinese Student and Scholars Association, Kuwaiti Club, Residence Hall Association, and various sports teams. For the ASU 2013 Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year and First-Team All-Academic honors wrestler Jake Meredith, Tempe Trophy created the plate for his uniform display which included a plaque, pinned jersey, and plates of the ASU and Pac-12 logos.

There’s Nothing Tempe Trophy Can’t Do

One major piece that Tempe Trophy received was a bronze cast leadership circle medal for the New American University. We engraved the back of the medal to say the recipients names, a latin quote, University President Michael Crow’s signature, and the school’s logo. Through the various projects and jobs given to us by Arizona State University organizations, it is easy to see that Tempe Trophy can engrave nearly any type of hard surface, flat and curved.

Bronze casting of the Arizona State University seal and an engraving by Tempe Trophy.

Bronze casting engraved by Tempe Trophy for New American University.

As a small local business ourselves, Tempe Trophy loves local jobs and putting quality products into the community. Our products are based on the needs and requests of the customers which makes it easy to fulfill all these jobs given to us by Arizona State University and its diverse organizations. From corporate awards to custom projects, we are happy to work with such a big entity right here in Tempe.

Electrical Business Appreciation

Who are we?

Tempe Trophy is a family owned and operated company representing three generations of expertise. For more than 30  years, we have been the industry leader in awards and high durability signage. We offer high durability and contrast signs, labels, panel tags, and industrial labels.

From simple address labels to complicated signs, we are here to help. If the utility company says engraved site maps are needed, send us the plans. If a hospital needs every switch plate engraved, we can help. If you need to color code the backup power system for a customer, we’ve got you covered. If you need to match a site’s existing panel tags and labeling, just get us samples, we’ll match it. If you simply want customer loyalty, let us design tags and weatherproof stickers with your logo. What ever you need, let us help you get the job done right.

We’ve Got You Covered