Building a quality football program is like building a business or like building a house. Before constructing the home, you must have a solid foundation. When building your football program, your program’s foundation begins with the community. Great community support will help see your program through its ups and downs.
1) Get involved in your community
Get involved in things unrelated to football. Before you can ask for the community’s support, people need to know who you are and what you’re all about outside of your won-loss record. There are numbers opportunities for you and your staff to work in the community. Speak at the Rotary Club. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Set up a summer reading program with your players reading to elementary school kids.
2) Establish a partner program
Set up working relationships with local businesses where both your program and the businesses benefit. Generally, these are fundraising opportunities with local businesses. In return, provide team apparel or access to team events and access to fan-based events.
Have a local business sponsor a contest to be run at halftime or during your football games. Pre-game tailgate parties sponsored by local businesses (radio stations are great) are another idea.
All coaches should have a weekly radio show that is broadcast from a local restaurant. The restaurant receives great exposure and increased business on show nights. Coaches get to talk about their programs and the community. Everybody wins.
3) Tap into your program’s history
Whether a coach has been at a school one day or ten years, he should make it his business to understand the history behind his school’s football program. With that knowledge, coaches can then use that history to their advantage. Schedule reunion weekends, especially for those teams that were very successful. Establish a Hall of Fame, get in touch with any “famous” alumni, honor the program’s college football players. Tapping into a program’s past helps build community support and fundraising efforts.
4) Be creative
Whatever a coach does, he needs to be as creative as possible in building the program’s foundation. Make small changes to existing events or come up with new ones of your own. Create an Honorary Coach program where a local business sponsors a person from the community to be a coach on the sidelines for a game (or a quarter or a half of a game). Any idea that a coach may have to help build community support is worthy.
If a coach does it correctly, building community support will lay the foundation for a successful program. Utilizing your community resources is a win for everyone involved–the community, local businesses, and, most importantly for coaches, the football program.