It’s that time again! College captains are scrambling to find those eager athletes to join their squad. As a captain of a small school, I can assure you, it’s pretty difficult to find recruits. People are joining organizations left and right. What’s gonna make them want to join a team that throws plastic back and forth with each other? They could go Greek, join a different club sport, or just focus on their studies. How can you, as a team, convince rookies to join the Ultimate team on campus – which will surely be the best decision they’ll ever make. Here are a few of the recruitment strategies I’ve found useful over the years.
- Organizational Fair. Every college has something like this at the beginning of the year. Although it’s not my favorite, it does get the word out about the team. The trend I’ve seen in the past is freshmen go to the organization fair and get bombarded with “JOIN KAPPA KAPPA SNAPPA!” and other Greek organizations. That’s no knock on the Greek-life on any campus, I think they have great recruitment strategies. But if the organizational fair is covered with Greek life booths, you have to make your Ultimate booth stand out. Play loud music, bring discs, wear your uniform (cleats, too). Stand out and be memorable.
- Get good with the RAs. Resident Assistants are a great way to get in contact with the freshmen. I’m an RA, and our main goal is to get the residents involved. Get them connected with the University somehow. If you have any RA friends, bring them to Ultimate and get them interested. Soon enough they’ll be inviting their residents and it will spread like a wildfire. Freshmen are always down to try new fads, so get them interested in Ultimate by having their RA suggest it to them
- Throw in the dorms. Want a quick way to get freshmen to see a disc? Throw in the hallways. I came into college eager to play Ultimate, so I created a game where two people throw in the hallway. They stand roughly 10-15 yards away (or however long a hallway is) and throw back and forth. If you hit a wall, then you get a scratch. First one to 5 scratches loses. Soon enough, people will be hearing their doors and walls get banged around and either come out and join the game, or yell at you to go away.
- 24-hour throwing day. This is a great idea for any sized team. Find a day that works (probably a weekend) and dedicate it to throwing. Have your veterans sign up for hourly shifts to throw in a populated area. Have two (or more) people throwing for 2 or 3-hour shifts; when their shift is done, the next duo would come to the location and throw. If the area is populated, people will walk past it multiple times per day and see different people throwing. Surely they’re bound to ask questions about Ultimate or join in on the fun! And yeah, throwing at 4am might not be the most desirable time, but how cool would it be to say, “Yeah, we’re throwing for 24-hours”, and actually go through with it? At my college, there’s a green space in front of the freshmen dorms right outside of the student center. If you have something similar, use that space for this recruitment tactic. Otherwise, just go to a populated area on-campus and do it.
- Host open-scrimmages during move-in week. You can talk the talk about joining the Ultimate team, but no one will come without walking the walk. Freshmen want to dip their toes in the water before they dive head first. Have an open scrimmage where they can come play with some people their skill level, as well as some more experienced players. I’ve found that if you, or another veteran, pull a newbie aside and offer some direction, they’ll feel more into the sport and feel like the throw they just had which went backwards is important. Have scrimmages where people can come hangout and play.
The most important thing to remember about recruiting players is to not get upset if they don’t commit to the team. Don’t hold a grudge or be a jerk to them. You never know if they might change their mind and want to join the team later on in their career. What recruiting tactics do you use to get people to join your team? Tell us in the comments below!