By Mari Pothier | email@example.com
Photo by Ryan Erlacher
The Flagler College athletic department is promoting a variety of theme nights this fall semester to help build more excitement and higher attendance numbers during games.
Ever since Jud Damon became the athletic director for Flagler College he said he has wanted to do promotional events with the athletic department, but never had the proper staffing to make it happen.
In January 2011, Ryan Erlacher was hired to be the assistant athletic director and director of compliance, and soon took on the challenge of marketing and promoting the athletic events.
“I was the one who said ‘yes I’d love to do these things,'” Erlacher said.
The purpose of the theme nights is to enhance the student experience as well as the student athlete experience to make sure everyone is having a great time when they come out to the games, Damon said.
“It’s all to get more people there and to have a great atmosphere at our home events,” Damon said.
During the summer Erlacher said he had to figure out how to promote and market the games. He decided on theme nights which would be events highlighting certain games and nights. Some of the theme nights include 80’s Night Throwback, Shut Out Night, Battle of the Peach “Camo Night,” etc.
But Erlacher is not alone in promoting these events. He has the help of the Sports Marketing Elite Group which is a new student initiated group on campus. The group’s main goal is to increase attendance at Flagler College sporting events. The group is open to any student in any major.
During the summer Erlacher, along with Brad Hernandez, who was his apprentice and a member of the Sports Marketing Elite Group, brainstormed and came up with all the theme night events and gave them catchy titles.
“We tried to come up with ideas that we thought we’d want to go to ourselves and would create that excitement,” Erlacher said.
The first theme night was Soccer in the Sand on Sept. 9th and it generated a lot of success. During the event they handed out leis, Hawaiian drinks, and even had decorations. Erlacher said that 577 people attended the game and he received excellent feedback from parents, fans and students.
“The main reason we’re doing this is because it’s different,” Erlacher said. “We want to try something different. We want to reach our students and I think by doing things like this we’re reaching them.”
On Saturday, Sept. 17th, Damon said the men’s soccer game against Francis Marion only had 127 people attend, which is far less compared to the 577 that came out for the theme night.
“That tells me we did a good job,” Damon said regarding the theme night.
But Erlacher stressed that they want every game to have great attendance, not just the theme nights.
Erlacher said he uses a lot of methods to promote and spread the word about the various theme nights. He has flyers hanging all over campus, sends out emails, puts information of the Flagler facebook account, has banners, uses word of mouth and has flyers hanging on St. George Street.
“We want it to be that you’re tired of seeing our flyers because that way you know what we’re doing,” Erlacher said.
The athletic department, Damon said, also wants the theme nights to help get people who are not normally interested sports to come out to the games and enjoy themselves.
But for Nichole Carrubba, a senior religion and communication major, the theme nights are not going to make her more interested in going to the games.
“I can’t really get into sports,” Carrubba said. “In the end it’s just a game.”
But head coach Taylor Mott and her volleyball team are excited to participate in the events. She also said she hopes that it will bring more people out to the games.
“Hopefully we can make some fans out of people that may not have already been fans,” Mott said.
The next theme night events are 80s Night Throwback, highlighting the volleyball team on Sept. 30th, and Shut Out Night, highlighting both the men’s and women’s soccer teams on Oct. 1.
“We just want it to be a great time for people and it’s to create awareness, it’s to create excitement,” Erlacher said.