TheAthleticDirectors.com co-founder and contributor, Josh Gillispie, called me recently and was raving about a trip that he and the varsity boys soccer team at Old Suwanee Christian recently took for a game. He couldn’t say enough about the way that he, the team, and the fans were treated by the host school. I asked him to do a quick write up so that we could share with our readers. Check it out!
Ok, so we all know the basics of hosting home games:
- Be proactive in greeting them.
- Offer them a place to put their things (if available).
- Make sure they have water on their bench.
However, do we really go out of our way to welcome our visitors? Remember, the visiting team is your partner in competition for that game/match.
Do you treat the visiting team as guests or as intruders?
Here is Josh’s account of “the best away game I’ve ever been to.”
Getting off the bus it seemed like any other away game, but it didn’t take long to realize the culture here was drastically different from other schools.
Within ten steps of the bus a man drove up on a golf cart and thanked us for coming, and made sure all of our needs were taken care of. Signs pointed the way to the restrooms and our host made sure we knew exactly where to go.
Once we arrived at our bench there must have been five more people that walked by, thanked us for coming, and asked what they could do for us.
Usually at an away game the host AD or head coach will come and greet you, but to have multiple people in the first ten minutes of being there spoke of a different kind of Christian school sports culture.
You would think all the hospitality would be over then, but before the game started a player came over and thanked us for coming (a first in all my years of coaching).
Once the game began it didn’t take a minute to see we were well overmatched, and they could have run us into the ground, but every player treated us a equals on the field there was not even the slightest bit of arrogance from anyone.
After checking on our needs during halftime and the second half the game ended in a 5-0 loss for us.
While shaking hands the home team gave every player on our team a Powerade, something we have done before, but again another gesture of hospitality.
A loss for us on the field, but a win in terms of learning about culture and how to treat a visiting team.
Before we left the parking lot, the head coach’s wife came over and directed us to the best restaurants in the area.
The whole experience changed my perspective on the way we treat visiting teams.
So I want to publicly thank all the people at Trinity Christian School in Opelika, AL.
Clearly, Trinity in Alabama has established a culture with their players, coaches, fans, and staff. This is something that starts with the athletic director and works it’s way down to the benches and bleachers.
Just hearing about the experience presented me with a philosophical challenge. The athletic director can possess the right philosophy in competition and sportsmanship. But if that philosophy is not established and shared with all those involved in the athletic department, then proper athletic culture has not been established.
So we pose this question: What are you as the athletic director doing to promote hospitality towards the visiting team in your program?
Want to hear more from Josh Gillispie? Check out his article, The Science of Scheduling. Josh is currently working on a sports devotional book for TheAthleticDirectors.com. Be on the lookout for it soon!