What’s Your Athletic Department Driving?

What do interior decorating, design campaigns, and musical scores have in common with your athletic department? Ideally, a theme. A theme is an idea or concept that governs the operation of a larger body of work. The athletic director takes multiple sports programs and the people involved in them and guiding them in one direction. With so many moving parts, it’s important to have an overriding theme to help promote your vision.

VBA’s theme last year was Championship Culture. We introduced it to our athletes and their families at orientation. We used it in all athletic department emails that we sent out. We posted in online. We tried to use it as kind of a filter for all of our communication and operation.

Incidentally, three of our teams won their league championships and two of our athletes won individual championships in league track and field events. Would they have done as well without the Championship Culture theme? Probably. However, the theme we selected enhanced the view of these accomplishments since it showed positive movement in the direction that we wanted to go.

Our people really got behind this theme.

Now that we have a good picture of what we’re talking about, let’s look at four things a good theme will do for your athletic department.


Your Theme Enhances Vision

We’ve already discussed developing a vision for your athletic department. The theme is different than that.

Think of vision as the driver and the theme as the car.

You want your driver (vision) to get somewhere, and you want it to get there quickly.

Often we have a great vision, but we make it hitch a ride on whatever happens by. If your theme is the vehicle for your vision, make it a nice one. And since you want as many people to get on board with your vision as possible, let’s go ahead and make it a double-decker charter bus.


Your Theme Creates Unity

Vision can be articulated, but it doesn’t always unify a group of people. You may present your vision for your athletic department, and people may agree with it. In fact, it may resonate so deeply with some that they volunteer to help you execute it.

It is the theme, though, that will create unity.

People want a rallying cry. They want a picture or concept that gives their vision voice.

You want to see where you’re going, but you also want to see how you’re getting there. The theme provides that.

Even small athletic departments have a lot of people involved. Coaches differ from team to team, and so do their goals and philosophies. Giving them a theme at the beginning of the year will allow them to structure their individual plans around a central concept.

Choose a phrase, concept, or slogan that is a snapshot of your vision. This will give a unifying tone to your athletic department.


Your Theme Creates Chatter

We could also say your theme creates conversation. A theme can turn into a major talking point within your athletic department.

Referencing the theme frequently not only sounds good, but it reminds everyone of the athletic department’s overall vision.

It’s a great way to keep athletes, coaches, and parents pointed in the right direction.

Your theme also gives people something to talk about. This chatter doesn’t just take place face to face. It can, and should, also take place on social media. We live in a social media world. Even if you choose not to participate, your people probably do. You might as well give them something to talk about.

Encourage positive chatter about your athletic department  on social media through a theme they can #hashtag.

Bottom line: include your theme in written and verbal communication as much as possible and encourage your athletic department to do the same.


Your Theme Creates Excitement

A good theme generates excitement about your program. Encourage this excitement in as many ways as possible.

Post your theme everywhere. Put it on signs in the locker rooms. Print T-shirts with your theme on them. Hang it on a banner in the gym.

You can also choose an athlete, coach, or parent that represents your theme on a recurring basis.

Your kids will be excited to hashtag the theme on twitter and facebook as well.

Your athletes will be excited to show you ways that they embody the theme on a daily basis, and their parents will remind you of the theme throughout the year.


Do you want excitement in your athletic department? Of course you do! Create it today with a good theme.


What are some good athletic themes that you have used in the past? Was there a Bible verse that went with them?


Jeff is the athletic director at Victory Baptist Academy. He is also the founder and administrator of TheAthleticDirectors.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “What’s Your Athletic Department Driving?

    • Themes are definitely exciting. I think my favorite part about them is publicizing a new one and seeing everyone get on board. I’ve also seen a few flop as well. But, hey, you live and learn.