The Northmont Athletic Department has created a balanced system using both an Athletic Director, Robin Spiller, and an Assistant Athletic Director, Jim Smith. The two work in tandem to keep their department at the highest of standards, while dividing up the work to improve the overall quality of their high school athletic department.
As told to Erika Arora
Shortly after signing with Varsity News Network, Jim and I met up to discuss the future of our department. I am currently one of Northmont’s assistant principals, so my time is very limited. Trying to run a school and an athletic department seemed like too big of a task for one person, so I called up Jim for help.
Northmont has a Five Year Strategic Plan that includes ideas to improve certain areas of our school and a common complaint we received was a lack of Athletic Department information to parents in our community. Attempting to fix this issue on their own, all of our different sports teams started creating their own individual websites, and while a good gesture, when Jim and I discussed, we decided that one concise place to go online was what we needed for our Athletics Department – so we got in touch with VNN.
Knowing what we knew about our teams and the individual team sites that were initially set up, it’s not much of a leap to understand that each sport at Northmont has a coaching philosophy and vision that motivates our coaches to keep information updated and interesting. This meant that while our goal was one website for our entire department, the reality was that it was essential that our coaches had the flexibility to cover their own teams. Editor access in VNN was important for us and we’ve extended this to our most involved parents, too. The difference is that while coaches get access right away, parents but must be approved by either Jim or myself to take an active role in creating content on our site.
Our system is simple: we hire a coach, then Jim gives them a “cheat sheet” we created that contains information about creating articles, links, child’s pages, and anything else they might need. It takes around an hour to train each coach. One thing we ask is that they have to have some sort of a vision and set the site up themselves, using any links they want. Learning first-hand by doing the task matters.
While we train coaches initially, the outside help that VNN’s support team provides on a day-to-day level is vital to our success because Jim also teaches, it really helps share the load between bigger questions we need to answer and more technical every day questions that VNN Support can help with.
Before our arrangement could commence, Jim and I still needed to show our website to the Superintendent, who was immediately impressed by the planning and vision of what we were doing. By the time we were finished, we had the buy-in from our entire administration, too. Everyone appreciates how easy the site is to navigate. Onboarding our coaches well was one thing, but having the administration’s support is important too – they are behind what we are doing and it shows in our site’s growing numbers that are always exciting to see (VNN Note: Northmont is cruising – they’ve logged almost 77,000 pageviews in September 2015 alone, and ranked 2nd place in Ohio, and #7 in the overall VNN Network).
If you want to draw people to your site, give them more reasons to visit, and make sure that your posts keep your audience in mind. Connecting your community is top priority, and our site makes sure they have many reasons to connect with us. We have our community recreation programs linked to our site, and a very special “Hall of Fame” link where anyone from the community can nominate someone to be a part of our Hall of Fame. It features current, past, and deceased athletes, and allows the community to have an active hand in shaping what our department memorializes. Google Calendar is a tool we utilize to help with communication as well. It helps us cut down on phone calls and emails because parents are able to check up on their children. Looking forward, we are hoping to get our yearbook staff and students writing the articles for our blog posts which will take our online community to the next level.
Varsity News Network has transformed Northmont’s Athletic Department, and Jim and I appreciate the products and features that are offered. Any time I have a problem, I make a phone call or send an email, and I get a response immediately. We are extremely happy with our new website and system, and this reflects the positive feedback we have received from our community.