Every program needs the head coach’s voice to be the rudder that steers the program. His or her style is the one that sets the tone for what the team is all about.
That being said, sometimes it helps to have an outside voice present the same message in a different manner. This is where valuable alumni can come in. Your former students can be an incredible source of inspiration for your current and future student athletes. Thanks to their previous athletic exploits, they have built-in credibility that your players will recognize and respect.
But it’s not always realistic to think your alumni will be able, or even willing, to lend a helping hand. Here are some of the best ways to engage with your former student athletes in the hopes of bringing new students into your program.
1. Be Intentional and Showcase Value
To get the interest of your alumni athletes, you need to approach them intentionally and strategically. You can’t just shoot them an email out of the blue asking them to give a presentation and expect them to respond positively.
Instead, you need to be as specific as possible with regard to what an individual alumnus will bring to the table. For example, you might reach out to a former athlete who holds a school record who can talk about how a specific part of your program helped them excel. Or you might contact an individual who used the leadership skills he gained from your program to become the CEO of a seven-figure company.
These strategies showcase the value your program will bring to their lives. They show your alumni that you truly value them as individuals and aren’t just looking for a generic recommendation.
2. Tie Together the Past, Present and Future
The main reason for bringing in athlete alumni is to show students how attending your school’s program could develop them. To re-engage former student athletes, though, you might have to actually go backwards in time.
When reaching out to your former players, explain that you plan on using media that features them (such as newspaper articles and archived game film) to get the attention of current players. Again, tie this back into the specific aspect of your program you’ll be showcasing - athleticism, perseverance, leadership, etc.
A little trip down memory lane might be just the ticket to bringing former athletes back to their old stomping grounds.
3. Stay Connected
Reaching out to your athlete alumni shouldn’t be a one-time deal. If an individual shows interest in returning to campus to interact with prospective students, make the effort to stay connected with them before, during and after their appearance.
Thanks to the internet and social media, there are a ton of ways you can stay connected with your former students. One of the best ways is to create a private online community (such as a closed Facebook group) specifically for alumni and former members of your program.
By forging an authentic connection with your former students, you’ll show them just how much you value their help and make them much more likely to return in the years to come.
4. Give Your Alumni an Authentic Platform
Speaking of authenticity, you don’t want a former student’s testimony to come off as phony. You want them to relay a true-to-life account of how attending your school’s program helped them achieve greatness in their life.
So give them the floor. Let them say what they truly want to say, not what you think will “sell” students on your philosophy.
There are a number of ways you can do this:
Conduct a video interview to be posted on your school’s website.
Ask them to write an article for your school’s website or blog.
Ask them to come up with outreach ideas.
Remember, the name of the game is making your alumni feel valued. Give them the floor, and they’ll have nothing but good things to say about your program and encourage your current athletes.