I love traveling and seeing what else is out there. When possible I’ve tried to link my travels with Floorball in some capacity. Whether that’s running a camp while I’m on vacation, or setting up a demo program while I’m traveling to speak. I think utilizing the opportunity is an important one when you have it. I was traveling to Bellingham, WA for the 2018 NIRSA Region VI conference where I was attending and speaking both on the Floorball and on the process of becoming a recreation director at a University. Bellingham is home to Western Washington University and is my Alma Mater.
I spent my undergraduate time working in campus recreation from the outdoor center on campus to working in the recreation center. Knowing I would be in the area I reached out to my old boss to inquire if there would be interest in offering a floorball demo on campus. He agreed and we set forth a plan to market and build awareness of the event. One of the challenges faced right off the bat was the timing of the event. I had a commitment for the conference at 5pm so we ended up running the event in the early to late afternoon. If you’ve spent much time on a college campus you’ll know that 1-4pm isn’t the ideal time to run a program. It’s not a terrible time, but it’s not the peak time of the facility by any means. However, it was the time that worked in my schedule to make something happen. I figured at the very least it couldn’t hurt to try.
Prior to getting there I worked with the campus recreation department to develop marketing materials and work to put the message out on social media. When partnering with another group or organization it’s important to have buy in from them on the program. They need to be the driving force on putting content out through their channels. Without it there is little hope of getting awareness, especially if you’re an outside group coming on to campus. As an alum I also used my connections with professors I knew who helped push the program out through their channels. I also made contacts with other student organizations on campus that I felt would be interested in something like this. The group that bought in was the WWU Hockey Club. They were instrumental in helping promote the event, and used it as a way to connect with the student body in a different way.
The day of the event came, we set everything up and waited. I’d be lying if I said we had all these student rushing to come play Floorball. In reality we had very little. It could have been the time of day, day of the week, or people weren’t interested. The students who did come and play were from the WWU Hockey Club. At the very least it was great getting to meet them and connect. As the afternoon wore on we were able to get enough to start playing. As more came the game grew, and what happened next was what I hoped would happen. We were located in the back gym of the facility. It’s on the path to the locker rooms, and is very visible to students walking by.
As we were playing I noticed two students stop in their tracks when they saw what we were doing. They watched for a bit, and then came over to inquire. We were able to get them into the game and we played for about 20 minutes. It was that sort of reaction that I was hoping for. Not only did they connect with Floorball they also got to meet new students and connect with the hockey club. If you only looked at the direct number of students involved in the program you might think it was a failure. I don’t see it that way. I saw an opportunity to impact even one person towards Floorball as a positive, and I think we did more than that on that day.
The landscape of campus recreation is already starting to change. I know that campus recreation professionals (including myself at Saint Martin’s University) are trying to find ways to connect with students. In many cases that requires new thinking, new programs, and new equipment. I know that Floorball has a place in collegiate recreation programming. Whether it’s located in intramural sports, club sports, or one day as a varsity sport.