After very successful stints in media relations and sports information at Northern Arizona University and the University of Florida, Steven Shaff knows exactly what it takes to elevate an athletic program’s visibility. During that time he was directly involved with Olympians, All-Americans, athletes vying for prestigious national individual awards, and several NCAA championships. That’s why one of the critical things on his action list at as Assistant Athletic Director and Sports Information Director at St. Francis High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Sacramento, California, was to help design and produce a dedicated athletic website through PrestoSports. The site, GoTroubies.com, launched in October 2018.
When he started, the athletics information was buried under four or five clicks on the school’s main website. “It wasn't the leading information on the site. You had to go find it. We weren't getting the visibility we were hoping for.” With a very athletic student body – more than 500 student-athletes from 1,100 total students, 10% of which might go on to play at the next level (well above the national average) – there is a lot of interest in their programs. Hiding it on the main site wasn’t an option.
Now with GoTroubies.com the latest competition results are front and center. “We try to do a post on every varsity event. And I love the ability to put photo galleries on the site,” says Steven.
The New Wide World of Sports – High School Sports Information Director
Not that long ago, the idea of a sports information director at a high school might have seemed like a luxury. That’s not the trend. Interest in high school sports is rising just as changes in the media landscape are shifting. “It's just the growth of high school sports,” said Steven. “If you want to get the word out about your teams, you have to do it yourself. Local newspapers aren't covering high school sports as they used to. It's all online. It's a matter of finding someone do it. We're fortunate in our school that we have somebody.”
While everyone recognizes that school budgets are tight, the move to PrestoSports was pretty obvious. Bringing in someone into the sports information role, it makes sense to give them the tools to do their job and achieve the results the administration has stated. Now that everyone involved internally and the community has seen it and how it elevates their presence, the decision was clearly the right one. That was step one. The next thing Steven is looking forward to is the possibility of generating revenue from the site, and the control that PrestoSports gives over advertising. His goal is that website partners could ultimately pay for the site.
“I always say athletics are the front porch of your school in so many ways,” says Steven. “People get and form opinions of your school based on your athletic programs.” Other than live events, much of that opinion will be formed online because that’s where everyone has to turn for information. The expectations have been set, and they won’t go back in the box. For schools looking to keep potential student-athletes and their families informed, as well as promoting student achievements to college coaches, a dedicated athletic website is critical.
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