College sports have been an ever-growing interest throughout the country for years. Football, specifically, brings in the crowds. However, over the last few years at Butler Community College, the attendance numbers for these games and events have declined. Tyler Nordman, the associate athletic director at Butler, shared some ideas on how the college can increase those numbers.
Nordman said Butler’s volleyball team is, currently “the best team we’ve ever had.” He mentioned the implementation of “extra stuff to do” surrounding games, like T-shirt cannons during match breaks, in hopes of encouraging students to show that Grizzly pride.
“It’s a big deal to play college athletics,” Lisa Lechtenberg, the volleyball coach, said. “It’s even more exciting when you have people watching you do it.”
The gym, better known as The Power Plant, used to rumble with Grizzly students and parents, especially for men’s basketball in the ‘80s, when people lined up to snatch a seat.
“The reason it’s called The Power Plant is because it would be…electric, there would be so many people in there…it would be so loud,” Lechtenberg said.
Hosting the regional volleyball tournament was significant for Butler. Bleachers were crowded with friends of players, parents and grandparents. The Butler Volleyball team finished fourth in the conference, their first conference win, and Region IV titles.
“You felt that electric feeling,” Lechtenberg said.
Prior to Covid-19, each match held some kind of promotion.
“Wear purple and get in free!”, free popcorn and more. Of course, games are only so long, and Lechtenberg didn’t want to take up everyone’s evening.
Lechtenberg mentioned an arrangement of a sandwich sign posted sporadically around campus. Someone could slide plaques in and out containing Butler volleyball matches, football, baseball, softball, even theatre and art events, with dates and times. People would see that sign and think, ‘Hey, I’m not doing anything tonight, I’ll stop by to see the game/musical.’
White Eagle Credit Union, located at the intersection of West Central Ave. and South Haverhill Road, has an electronic billboard that occasionally advertises Butler events and players of the week, and some athletes have handed out flyers (where businesses allow), consisting of game schedules.
Butler also used to host a serving contest between volleyball matches where fans could win a T-shirt or a free pizza. Again, those contests took up people’s time pretty quickly.
The idea of a jumbotron in the Power Plant has been lightly discussed among coaches. Students could potentially get involved by voting on a song to play during halftime (like K-State does at their football games), voting on what team they think will take home the W, based on the current score and more.
“Having a successful season and winning always helps,” Lechtenberg said.
The good news? Butler has great ideas and discussions on attracting students to attend sporting events. Cost, time and knowing what students want out of these games is the real obstacle.
“We have good products and atmosphere,” Nordman said.
A social media presence boost may be in order for the athletic’s department. The question still, how can we encourage students to not only attend sport events, but get excited about bleeding purple as well?