On-Campus Events and Recruiting
Waterski team was one of my favorite parts of college. I was able to get involved, meet new people, represent my school, and become a leader. My team became my campus family, and made me love my school. Getting students involved on campus has shown to improve performance in classrooms, and student retention (Astin Theory, 1984.) A strong team begins with good recruits, so here are some ways to get campus support on and off the water.
Most schools have one large activity fair for all students in the quad, but there are often more opportunities for incoming students.
- Summer Orientation
- Welcome Week
- Fall activities fair
- Sports club fairs
- Admitted student days
At these events, have a couple students excited and engaging to talk with interested students. Make your table fun, and show off the best parts of your team. For some, this may be the sunsets at the lake, or off-season bonding. Show off all the great memories that are made on your team.
Have equipment at your table. More than just the prettiest decorations, having these at your booth will attract those interested or experienced. Lake people will see the skis and be immediately be drawn to your table.
Have a call to action. This may be adding their email to your mailing list for meeting alerts, or coming out to the lake with the team for a free trial. In the past, I’ve seen perspective member barbecues, to get to know current team mates, and spend time at the lake, with demos and opportunities to try 3 event skiing.
These events are critical for building a strong team early in the year. Varsity teams may even have staff in charge of recruiting talent. Don’t shy away from recruiting before students come on campus, but once they are there, its easier pickings.
Word of Mouth
Work of mouth is known as the cheapest and most effective form of advertising. Use your team members and supporters as ambassadors and recruiters. Be genuine and welcoming in messaging.
- Greek life events
- College-specific academic fairs
- Other club involvement
- Ambassador positions
Water skiers are driven, competitive, and successful people. It’s part of our sport, we are constantly pushing ourselves to be better. Your team members are high achievers and probably have a group of people they can reach through a class, other club involvement, or employment. Through t-shirts, stickers, and personal social medias, your members can become advocates for your team.
Most schools have a location in central campus where clubs can “rent” space to promote themselves. Talk to your school about bringing your boat on campus, and if you don’t have a boat, see if you can work with a marina to borrow a boat for the day in exchange for promotional help, and social media shout outs. Another reason to have strong social media pages. Again, make your table fun and welcoming. Have music, team members in swimsuits, and show off our sport. Make a slalom course for rollerblades and skateboards, or a balance-board competition. Get creative! Having great booths has even earned my team money, as First Year Experience committees have offered rewards for “Most Creative Booth”
In libraries, academic buildings and student unions, there are often window display cases for “rent”. Use these to promote your team. Life jackets and ropes fit better here.
Table at the student rec center. Water skiing is a total body workout, and people at the rec tend to be in shape and active students…GET THEM ON THE TEAM!
Ice skaters make great trickers, motocross riders land jumps, and hockey player slay on slalom. Water skiing is a unique sport that takes a lot of muscle, coordination and skill, but there is overlap with other sports. Find other campus club sports and see if members can do both. At my school, we had plenty of overlap between water ski and alpine ski, they were different skisons so it was possible. Find ways to grow the team on all levels. A larger team means a more diversified skill set, which can help boost points where you need them most.
Talk to the International Student department to find new talent. International students are looking for ways to make friends and get involved on campus. As most are new to the environment, they won’t have as many connections, and will have more time to dedicate to the sport. They bring so much to the team, with their diverse background and cultures, that make them an interesting addition, regardless of ski experience.
Water skiing is a global sport with talent athletes around the world. Bring in students from different countries to round out your team!
My sophomore year I rode around on my bike, with a team member in a team bib pulled on a skateboard with a ski rope. We passed out 300 plastic US flags with our contact information on it to freshman at move in. It was a goofy way for us to show off what we do-get pulled behind things on a rope representing our school, and get students to connect with us on social media for news on our upcoming meetings. It got us lots of attention, and the flag was fun! I still found them in the rooms of our recruited freshmen later that year.
Take a couple laps around campus with the trailered boat and offer lifts to class on the first day. There are many ways to spread your name to the campus community.
Flyers and Chalking
Something as simple as a piece of paper, or chalk marking on sidewalks have brought in countless teammates. Chalk high traffic areas ALL OVER CAMPUS! (stay away from entrances, covered areas, and chalk markers…from experience. Be sure to adhere to all campus chalking regulations) Tell students where and when your meetings are.
Use flyers to target different groups on campus. In the physics department, post flyers showing the physics of ski jumping, and in the Business School, remind them that every successful businessman does works from their boat. Specific targeting will drive better results. Again, make sure you have a call to action bringing them to a meeting or event. Most schools have a policy on flyers, so make sure they are approved before putting them everywhere.
Don’t forget in my last article we talked about working with campus communications to get articles in the newspaper, radio shout outs and recognition on school webpages.
Schools provide many opportunities for clubs to raise funds. This may include a student council, where groups can petition for funds towards a cause or event. There may be opportunities to help with move in for funds, reimbursement for travel expenses, scholarships to National Championship tournaments, and “jobs” open only to campus clubs. At my school, the Hockey arena uses campus organisations to clean up the stadium after games. We make $300-$400 for about 45 minutes of work/ team bonding. We go to the game together, then clean up after. Talk to your school about what opportunities are open to you.
Campus is a central location for most students. Boost school pride and team spirit with off-season gatherings at athletic games, tailgates, 5 Ks runs, or meet up at campus facilities like the pool or ice rink. To stay together, participate in an intramural league or have team workout sessions at the rec center. Retention and strong teams rely on staying connected year round more so than the few weekends we are at tournaments.