November 7 , 2005
Athletes hope ‘Frequent Flyers’ flock to games
By eric rangus
Since making its debut at the Classroom on the Quad, Oct. 19, The E Team Frequent Flyer Rewards Program, a student-athlete-led effort to boost fan interaction with Emory’s athletics teams on and off campus, has already signed up more than 250 members.
“Our goal is to make sure everyone on campus has heard of it,” said Sarah Morse, a junior history and English double major and third baseman on Emory’s softball team. She is president of the Varsity Athletic Council (VAC), the driving force behind Frequent Flyer Rewards. She and Angie Duprey, coordinator for event management and marketing for athletics, staffed the table at the Quad, where they signed up more than 50 people.
Division III athletics, the scholarship-free sort played by Emory’s varsity sports teams, can be a tough sell, and even elite programs like Emory’s can struggle for acknowledgement, as any Eagle athlete can attest. Promoting Emory sports requires a lot of creativity—and perhaps some incentives. And while the Frequent Flyer Program ropes members in with gifts, the athletes aim to keep them with their performance and passion.
“It’s fun when people come to games,” Morse said. “It can be intimidating to other teams. We’re Div. III athletes; we don’t get paid. We play because we love the game and we love our school. It makes it special when the fans in the stands aren’t 10,000 people you don’t know, but your roommates, your friends and your professors, so to have that kind of recognition is very important.”
Frequent Flyer memberships come in individual ($10) and family ($30) varieties and include a gift bag containing a membership card, T-shirt, poster, athletics schedule, postcard, blue and gold pom pom and a megaphone.
“We ran out of koozies,” Morse said. “But we have some on order.”
Children under 12 are automatically made members of “Swoop’s Squad,” a kid’s club named for Emory’s feathered mascot. While the program is aimed primarily at students, faculty and staff also are targets (as the family membership attests), and already several have signed up.
At each Emory sports event, the VAC has a table set up where Frequent Flyer members can get their cards stamped. Six stamps (MVP) earn members an Emory Eagles T-shirt; 12 stamps (All-UAA) is a choice of Eagles hat or visor; 18 stamps (All-America) earns Eagles mesh athletic shorts; and 24 stamps (Hall of Fame) earns a member an official jersey.
The program came together very quickly. Morse and men’s basketball player Alex Ford-Carther attended a leadership conference in Dallas on Oct. 1, where they presented their plan, which was very well received.
Upon returning to campus, they presented it to the whole VAC, as well as Duprey and then-assistant athletics director Jenny McDowell, associate althetics director. They were obviously impressed, as days later the program made its Quadrangle debut.
Morse said there are plans to expand the program beyond Emory’s borders. Student athletes could make personal appearances at local schools or help out at clinics. “It’s tough to envision how big it can be,” Morse said. “We want to establish a base on campus, then expand to the wider community.”