Effort begins to increase attendance at sports events

November 16, 2021 — by Howard Shu
Photo by Kaelli Trateng
Graphic by junior Kaelli Trateng advertising the girls’ volleyball Dig Pink event for breast cancer awareness.

When attending sports games, assistant principal Brian Thompson and athletics director Rick Ellis can’t help but notice the gaping voids in the stands where cheering students would have been in pre-COVID years. Hoping to increase attendance across all sports, they began working with junior Kaelli Trateng at the end of September to increase participation.

“Our attendance at sporting events right now mostly consists of parents and siblings,” Thompson said. “Our student body really hasn’t come back to attending sporting events at a high level.”

Thompson said that while there was decent attendance at some football games — partially attributed to the families of students in the music program or on the football, dance or cheer teams — other sports have not received the same amount of student support compared to before the pandemic.

As a result, many teams, including volleyball and even football, didn’t make as much money from ticket sales at the gate as they did pre-pandemic, Thompson said. Ticket sales help get the athletic program in the black.

Because of this, he and Ellis brought Trateng on board to help them increase attendance by reaching out to the student body through social media.

“The main goal I want is for our students to come out and enjoy being part of the school community,” Thompson said. “I want memories created; I want smiles; I want laughter; I want cheering. I want our students to no longer feel the doldrums of what COVID-19 did to us.”

He believes sporting events are great places to have fun with friends, where people “get to be themselves” and can take a healthy break from academics. 

Thompson hopes to bring the same feeling of joy on campus during Homecoming week to all athletics events. 

“Imagine if we took that energy and that enthusiasm, and we brought it to a sporting event,” Thompson said. “Let’s replicate that. Inside the gym, on the soccer field, let’s replicate that for our athletes and for our community.”

Trateng is working as an office assistant during fifth period and devoting her time to garnering support for teams.

“I think it is important for students to attend our sports events because it is fun, allows everyone to get out of their house to socialize and supports our classmates and students who work really hard and don’t typically get enough appreciation for it,” Trateng said. “Our school has a stereotype for not excelling in our sports, but that isn’t entirely true and we don’t shine enough light on the teams that do.”

Thompson and Trateng spent a long time researching and brainstorming ideas to market sporting events, which Thompson explained was important because low attendance may stem from the student body not even knowing that events are happening. In fact, “there’s an event happening almost every night at the school,” Thompson said.

They found 78 students who are administrators of social media accounts connected with the school across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Trateng organized the information and made a ParentSquare list of students to ask to post graphics and information about sporting events. She is making the graphics and is using skills she learned in the Media Arts Program.

“In my process, I usually think of a certain theme I would like to portray for the event; figure out the best way to portray the times and information; and then add in extra details or change it as I go,” Trateng said. “It usually takes me more than an hour on each graphic because I try to be too much of a perfectionist and focus on the little details.”

One of the main obstacles they have faced is needing to rely on the 78 administrators of social media accounts to post information. 

“Not a lot of people seem to check their email, or maybe they just don’t care to post the things we send out,” Trateng said. “There hasn’t been that much of an out-spread of this information.”

Trateng has been trying to figure out better ways to do this and sometimes asks people personally to post what she makes.

Still, the team has seen signs of progress. While walking around campus, Thompson has had students come up to him and say that they saw the social media ads. He hopes students will post them on their social media to spark growing school spirit as the school transitions into winter sports season. 

“I want to see the soccer stadium filled; I want to see the gym field for basketball season for our girls and our boys in all of our sports,” Thompson said. “I’d love for students to bring it and support our athletes and develop a school spirit that we’re currently lacking.”

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