Walk into any of Marist’s home sporting events and you will notice a lack of student support. Despite what the reason may be, Marist athletics is working interminably to fill the empty seats with energetic and enthusiastic students.
“When students show up it creates a great atmosphere. As the students get involved it forces the community members in the other sections to get involved as well,” said Andy Alongi. Alongi, Assistant Athletics Director for External Affairs, is in charge of all marketing and sponsorship efforts for the athletics department in support of all 23 Division 1 programs.
For years it has been an ongoing effort of the athletic department to effectively promote home games to the student body. They have tested out several different methods and continue to generate new ideas. The attendance has not reached where they would like it to be, but it is described as a work in process.
Their main goal behind all the marketing and promotional efforts is to make the event visible. Students cannot be present if they do not know when or where the game is. Students are encouraged to visit Marist’s athletics website (goredfoxes.com) a platform where information regarding schedules, rosters and the latest news can be found. Information regarding Athletics can also be found via social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The department has even developed an app that is available for apple and android users to download.
“I always try to receive feedback from students with regard to how they’re receiving information then try and tailor how Athletics does things to really reach the students in the best way possible,” says Alongi.
During the week of a game, students can find advertisements around campus to remind them of the upcoming home event. Postcards, posters, schedule cards and magnets are all initiatives of the marketing team to help promote athletic events.
When asked why she does not attend home sporting events, senior Jaclyn Sanderson answered, “I usually only hear about home games after they happened…unless I have friends on the team. Because I live off campus and do not use the McCann facilities, I am not exposed to any of the on-campus advertising. “
While placing banners in the breezeway and handing out posters in McCann are effective measures taken to spread the word, it does not appeal to all students.
Alongi feels the most realistic and cost-effective solution to encourage more student participation would be to have many different areas on campus to promote the event rather than just McCann. He suggests signage should be created and appear in or around academic buildings when a home game is approaching.
“If home games are made into more of a social gathering students will want to attend or else they will feel like they are missing out,” said Alyssa Grates.
The tailgate that is coordinated for the first football game is a large social gathering that has seen great success. The event is catered, encourages clubs to be involved and happens right on the Marian green, so making it convenient for people to enter the stadium and watch the game afterwards.
Other events that have seen large student attendance numbers are those with free giveaways.
“If they are giving out a free t-shirt then I will be there,” said Emily Eisenson.
According to the Marist official athletics website, the Marist Athletics Department schedules promotional giveaways as an additional incentive for fans to attend Marist games. Promotional items are distributed to fans as they enter the stadium or arena through the stanchions – with one promotional item per eligible fan in attendance. Most Marist Athletics Department promotions are advertised with quantity limits.
At an upcoming women’s basketball game, a few days before Christmas, fans will receive samples of Hudson Valley Fresh Dairy products upon entry to McCann Arena and cookies to get in the holiday spirit.
According to Amanda Rogerson, Assistant Athletic Director, Business Operations, the most recent event that attracted a large amount of students was Marist Madness. Marist Madness featured performances by the college’s spirit teams, relay races, a slam-dunk contest and the introduction of the men’s and women’s basketball teams to the student body. The event was promoted in advance through the website, postcards and flyers.
The most exciting factor of that Wednesday night was that senior Matthew Kark hit a half-court shot for $10,000.
“The crowd went absolutely wild and it was a shame for anyone who was not there to witness it,” said David Scarcello. “If competitions like this happened more often, I think more students would make the effort to attend.”
Looking at the participation numbers, Amanda Rogerson shares that men’s basketball has consecutively been the event with the largest student turn out. After each game Rogerson is in charge of totaling the number of tickets sold. The tickets are broken down into several categories and she is able to determine the exact number of students that attend the event.
“A lot of students generally come out for the first game or first few games of the season to see what the team is about, but as the season goes on the numbers begin to trickle. It is a trend that I’ve noticed year after year,” said Rogerson.
The events that seem to grasp students’ attention are the home openers and those that have an incentive.
“Because we can not do a giveaway at every event, it becomes a challenge to make students want to come. There is an element of school pride that should kick in and make students want to support their teams regardless of their record of what additional promotion is going on,” said Alongi.
One of the biggest events McCann hosts is Marist women’s basketball Pack the House Game. The purpose of the event is to fill every seat in the arena, which Marist has been successful in doing. The department works with the Sports Public Relations class from the Marist Communications Department to come up with many creative strategies to market the game with the little budget available. Past years, such as last, have proven this event to encourage students to come out and be apart of the night.
Alongi shares that student attendance is frequently discussed within the department because it is one of their main objectives. They are constantly in communication with the business manager to see where those numbers are and what they can do to improve them.
In an effort to do so, Alongi says, “for events we will partner with student activities, Student Government Association (SGA) and any other organization that wants to get involved with us to help us get students at the games. We hope these relationships will pull in a different demographic.”
The Marist Student Booster Club also plays a large role in encouraging student participation at sporting events. They describe themselves as “Marist’s official student fan club…providing students the opportunity to show their school spirit and Marist Athletic events while interacting with their classmates.” The Athletic department uses the Student Booster Club as a vehicle to promote games on campus.
The club has done an effective job being more visible this year by going door to door with flyers in an effort to get students to come down to McCann. A large crowd is not only more enjoyable for the fans, but it also excites the players.
“It fires me up,” said lacrosse player Jesse Brown, “having the stadium packed with students opposed to 20 parents creates a great atmosphere for us to play in.”