VNN Supercharges Michigan’s Winningest High School

EastGRsports.com generates 5400+ page views per month, $3,500 profit through one semester.

Fresh off their 115th state championship, East Grand Rapids Athletic Director Scott Robertson was approached by West Michigan based company Varsity News Network.  VNN was developing a new sports information system and wanted to offer EGR a test drive.

Sports information is the process through which an athletic department communicates with their community.  Considering the amount and the variety of different stakeholders in an athletic community, managing a successful sports information initiative at the high school level is a difficult task.

With the amount of pressure on Pioneer athletics to consistently be the best, VNN knew that if their system worked at EGR, it could work anywhere.

“Apart from some small sport-specific sites that came and went over the years, we didn’t do any real sports information.  We didn’t think we had the resources to do it, but working with VNN brought all the pieces together.”

It takes a team to run a successful sports information initiative, and like most high school athletic directors Robertson was a one-man show.  He knew he wouldn’t be able to run the site from within the athletic department.  Working with Varsity News Network, Robertson was able to successfully integrate three separate resources into one sports information system: the East Grand Rapids Athletic Boosters, coaches, and journalism program.

VNN’s system allowed for easy coordination of the athletic boosters writing stories about Pioneer athletics and posting them to East Grand Rapids’ new VNN website, EastGRsports.com. Interested parents were also able to easily manage individual teams’ roster, schedule and more, all from the same place.

“The VNN software was really simple to learn.  Once the first couple volunteers got on board, word spread and the recruiting process became much easier.  We have parents writing stories about a number of our sports now, all coordinated on the same platform.”

Coaches at East Grand Rapids, meanwhile, were already overworked, so Robertson was hesitant to ask them to do one more thing.  But VNN’s software made it easier and quicker for coaches to report their game results accurately to local newspapers and television stations, while simultaneously supplying EastGRsports.com with fresh stories.

The journalism class was also invited to cover Pioneer athletics. Students were able to independently access the VNN system to submit articles and videos seamlessly, which they were then able to add to their portfolio of published work.

“Working on EastGRsports.com has been a great opportunity for students.  They can develop their skills on the latest technology, and we get to showcase our students’ academic achievements too. We were also able to put controls in place so that students could write articles, but we could review them before they were published.”

With a large number of constituents involved, EastGRsports.com took off quickly.  In its first semester the site garnered over 5,000 page views per month (enrollment is about 1,000). The site quickly became the online athletic resource the community had been searching for.

“Our VNN site is kind of like the technological equivalent of a barber shop.  It’s a gathering place for the East athletic community. After only a semester, I’d bet that nearly everyone within the school and a large chunk of the community has visited EastGRsports.com.  Not only have we gotten great feedback from visitors, many are even contributing.”

With the immediate popularity of EastGRsports.com, it was easy for Robertson and VNN to engage community businesses to sponsor the site.  A portion of the revenue from sponsorships went directly to the athletic department.  In the site’s first semester Robertson was able to pay for the VNN program, while also generating over $3,500 in profit through sponsorships.

East Grand Rapids high school had no formal sports information process prior to working with VNN.  Through the VNN system, East Grand Rapids now keeps their community

informed and involved in athletics, in an environment that places all sports on equal footing.

“The perception is that football is somehow a bigger sport, thanks to the media attention it gets.  Our VNN site makes it easy to give that kind of recognition to every sport, and promote all of our athletes to the larger community.”

East Grand Rapids high school plans to use Varsity News Network for sports information in 2011 and beyond.

For more information on the Varsity News Network, contact us today!

vnnadmin
vnnadmin
After founding Friday Night Titans in the Summer of 2004, 7 years later a regional football coverage site has grown into a network of high school sports coverage across the state of Michigan, forming the Varsity News Network which was established in 2010. You can follow me on Twitter @frinighttitans.
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