Sooner than we know it, the Olympics will be upon us. As far as 98% of the American public is concerned, this is the only time Track & Field exists. We as coaches must also be ambassadors. We must promote our sport in order to get the best athletes out. Success breeds success, so even one great year can influence a program for decades. What better year than an Olympic year?
Some of you may have read Tony Holler’s article Promote, Recruit, Attract on Freelap that featured some of the posters I use to promote our sport. I am going to share all of those with you today. You can save them yourself and put them up in your school. All the pictures in this articles can be enlarged by clicking on them. Put your contact information on there so the athletes know how to get in touch with you.
The posters are below. If you are interested, you can read here about how promotion has helped my programs since moving to Illinois in 2005. I was hired as the new Head Boys Track & Field Coach at Antioch Community High School for the 2006 season. Recruiting for the team at Antioch was easy because I taught four classes of freshmen PE and Health every semester. About half the kids at the school had me as a teacher as a freshman, so finding athletes was easy. But still, I promoted. We went from around 40 kids on the team my first year to 85 my third, even though the school population got smaller by about 200 kids.
I watched the 2005 World Championships a few weeks after getting hired at Antioch. Back then, you could pay $5 and watch every event live online. This was such an amazing idea that the higher-ups decided to never offer it ever again. Being inspired by the performances of Justin Gatlin, Jeremy Wariner, Andrew Rock, Bershawn Jackson, Adam Nelson, Bryan Clay, Allyson Felix, etc., I made posters about their achievements and put them on our team bulletin board. I did the same after the 2007 World Championships for Tyson Gay, Bernard Lagat, Kerron Clement, Donald Thomas, etc. And if you think I did not exploit the crap out of Usain Bolt in 2008, you’re crazy.
Being a bit of a track historian, I would also put up information on historical track athletes like Kip Keino, Edwin Moses, Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.
Thankfully, our track bulletin board was positioned in an area where kids generally stood around, which meant they got a lot of exposure. This was also in the pre-smartphone era, so kids were not completely consumed with their phones and would actually pass time by reading something on a bulletin board.
We did not have a team website, a Facebook page, or a Twitter account back then. If I wanted to promote our team, I basically was limited to just what I put up in the school. This meant I would post meet stories, picture collages of previous meets, promotion of upcoming home meets, results of our team pentathlon, etc. I like to think we had the best bulletin board in the school. The athletic department had no problems with me using pictures of current athletes in my promotions, and the kids loved having their pictures up in school.
Some posters would not necessarily promote our sport, but would just celebrate sports in general. I made up posters about Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Willis Reed, Rulon Gardner and other athletes who had an inspirational story. Most of the time I would put these in the weight room.
At Antioch, we had an advantage getting football players out for our team. The head football coach my first two years at Antioch, Del Pechauer, was the throws coach. My last two years at Antioch, the new head football coach, Brian Glashagel, was a former NCAA Division III qualifier in the hurdles for Knox College (Brian is now an assistant track coach at Antioch). They obviously were instrumental in getting football players out for the track team, and the benefits were obvious. In 2008, Antioch went 12-1 in football with 10 of their 11 starters on offense being Track & Field athletes. I was coaching Cross Country that fall, but helped out the football team by making pre-game videos for them.
All the posters below are ones you can use to promote your own program. Most all of them can be found on Lake Forest’s Twitter page. Many of the football statistics you see on here came from Tracking Football. Our LFHS Twitter page also has other examples of ways to promote your program, like showing what kind of meets you run in, listing recent alumni who ran in college, showing practice results, etc. Save these images and use them to promote your program. Let’s make Illinois Track & Field as great as we possibly can.
Hopefully the Olympics will be amazing, the promotion will be easy, and you will get the best athletes in your school out for Track & Field in the spring.
You can follow Lake Forest Track & Field on Twitter at @LFHStrack.