It's that time of year again - your college campus is swimming with new students, and they're all searching for ways to make new friends and find community in college.
Personally, I'll never forget meeting Sarah Levinn (now of Texas Showdown fame!) for the first time at the University of Richmond Club Fair. She was goofy, and fun, and convinced me that my fear of DISC-apitation was completely unfounded. Shout out to that awesome human for being my first ultimate friend!
We've already talked broadly about ways to get rookies out to practice. But in this post we're zooming in on one of the best ways to make a good first impression on them - at your college Org Fair.
So, how do you convince your potential future teammates that ultimate is way more rad than intramural soccer or ping pong club?
We've got some killer strategies to increase rookie traffic to your table at your college org fair this fall, but before we get to that - it's important to spread the word around campus!
1. Plan your team booth ahead of time
Before you roll up and start casting for n00bs, you need to get necessary approval from your school.
You don't want to run afoul of the administration or faculty this early in the season. Good captains know when to operate within the established system - and this is usually one of those times.
If you're planning to table at a formal Org/Club Fair, make sure you've reserved a spot through the school. If you're going something more casual, like setting up a table in a high-traffic hallway, make sure you have all the necessary permissions to be there.
Once you've got your table booked, here are some other to-do items before you show up:
Make Sure YOUR PEEPS Will Be THERE
At the very least, you'll need two ultimate players sitting at your table at all times, engaging walkers-by and talking about our awesome sport.
Some ultimate players can be on the flaky side, so if you want your teammates to be there at the table helping you, make sure you speak with them in advance and get firm commitments from them.
Consider splitting up the time with different volunteer shifts, so that no one person has to do table duty for more than an hour.
While two people is a minimum, the Org Fair is definitely a "more the merrier" situation. First year students are looking for community, and you'll make a better impression if your table is full of fun-loving, happy people that actively welcome prospective players into the fold.
Fly Your Flag, literally
Depending on your school, there could be a lot of competition for competing sports and clubs. If you've got a team flag, or really anything that's bright and eye-catching, bring it along to the fair.
Some first year students will be at the fair specifically looking for ultimate, but a lot of potential future ultiamte players won't know what they want to do at college, and they won't be looking for your table specifically. Give them a reason to stop by your table!
Accessorize Your Table (aka make a sign)
A bare table with two people sitting down and looking bored is not going to help you reel in all rooks, and not having enough new players this year could cripple your team.
Come prepared with paraphrenalia that makes you look like you care about your club! Remember that n00bs are looking for community, and your table should be a reflection of your team culture.
Are you the fun team that everyone loves playing? Are you the highly competitive, serious team that routinely converts varsity athletes that are tired of their mainstream sport? Make your table reflect those values
Here are some examples of flashy ultimate Org Fair tables:
For crying out loud, do NOT forget to bring discs. I really shouldn't have to say this, but it would be a disaster for you to try to convince people to play our sport without a disc in your hand.
Have some on the table. Have some seasoned vets tossing some around the table. Put candy in them to lure in passerbys. Show the people what they want!
bring a sign-up list
You came to the Org Fair to generate interest in your club, but that interest is wasted if you don't have a way to contact the rooks that want to play with you.
At a minimum, make sure to bring a paper and pen so your future best friends can write their email addresses down. You'll need that when you're following up later about upcoming events!
As Amelia noted in an earlier Recruitment post, it's even better is to bring a laptop or iPad to have them enter in their info. That way you don't have to worry about misinterpreting bad handwriting and losing a recruit; not to mention it's just a bunch of extra work to type up a long list (and it will be a long list!).
2. Prepare a quick pitch to explain ultimate
At an Org Fair Tabling event, you'll have a lot of voices to compete with to capture new talent. That's why it's imperative to nail your ultimate elevator pitch.
Once you've got their attention, sell these n00bs on why ultimate is the best sport in the world, and why joining your team is the best decision they can make in college life.
Your pitch will probably depend on your team's culture. Use what you've got to lure in the right talent! Here are some stellar points to include in your pitch:
- Ultimate is one of the fastest growing sports in the world! There's a professional league, it's played in 42 countries, and it got Olympic recognition in 2015!
- Don't worry if you don't know how to throw a disc when you start - no one does! We can teach you all those technical skills.
- We're basically best friends that like running and throwing and committing real hard to funny costumes and themes.
- Ultimate is a great way to get exercise, be part of a team, and make amazing friends.
- Keep it on the DL, but we throw the best parties on campus. Yep, better than crew. So, are you in or what?
Need even more inspiration? Okay, here are some examples of elevator pitches from some of our teams:
Thanks to all of our wonderful contributors!
3. keep them coming back
Once you've got those fish baited at your tabling event, it's time to hook 'em by putting a disc in their hands and a teammate across a lawn. That's right, folks, it's time for your first throwing session!
Don't waste any time getting those n00bs to meet your returners - it's likely they're trying out a few different options before deciding on their future friend group, so court them early before another club beats you to it!
Personally, when I got to college, I knew I wanted to play either rugby or ultimate. Ultimate practice was on a Tuesday; rugby was on a Thursday. But I dug those Richmond Redhots so much, I never made it to rugby.
THIS COULD BE YOU, and it all started with an email list at the Org Fair.
Now that your rooks are starting to see how cool you are, there's one more step to get them completely obsessed with your team. And this part requires some active effort on your part.
Want to make sure that everyone knows you'll have a table at the Org Fair? Make sure you've got posters up around campus ahead of time.
We've done the hard work for you and created professionally designed posters that you can print on regular 8x11 paper, and post around campus. There's an editable section for text on each poster where you can put the info for your Org Fair, or even your email address if first years want to get in touch.
over to you!
Got some Org Fair recruitment tips? Share them in the comments below!