Aug 3, 2012 12:06:00 PM
Look at the high school sports programs that attract the best talent around the country. What do 99% of them have in common? Answer: a great sports facility. There is much more to a great sports facility than just attracting great talent. An overlooked benefit is your program’s ability to keep the most talented athletes in your community. Parents of the most talented middle school athletes often move to districts where their children have the best opportunities for coaching, development, and potentially college recruiting.
When the “top ten” lists come out every preseason for your state, you can guarantee that the programs on those lists have premium facilities. The other factor that may pull some of the top athletes away is not another school, but a “club league” that draws more exposure than even the top-performing high schools. An article from AthleticBusiness.com says, “Popular club sports such as basketball, swimming, volleyball, hockey, and soccer that target players of slightly above-average ability all the way up to elite status may provide stronger competition.” If the competition is higher than that of the state's high schools, that tells you where the college recruiters will look first.
Beyond just adding to your facility with the latest and best products, what can be done to help retain talent? Dialoguing with your community well, and often, about where your program is headed and what the plans are for the near future is a great way of keeping the parents of the younger and older athletes engaged in the programs of their local high school. When the athletic director is a natural leader, and knows how to network, a newsletter is a great way to get people to buy into the dream and the vision. Once you have a base of followers, turn those followers into marketers. Have contests to see who can generate the most Facebook likes for your high school’s sport social page or who can sign up the most subscribers for the newsletter. This does not have to be an overwhelming “to-do” where you send out vision statements every month. Make it simple, and tell people where you are and where you are headed. You may be surprised how far this will get you.