When it comes to representing a minor sport and to an even smaller market you have to change your game plan – it is not the same as working for the Football Association.
The majority of sports clubs train on a Wednesday afternoon due to the lack of lectures and seminars, so you immediately lose those who are already completely dedicated to another sport like Rugby, Football, Rowing or Cheerleading… the list is endless. Not to mention you have to do all this with very little budget.
For that reason, when we launched BU Trampolining in February 2010, we went for a slightly different approach. Although we were a serious sport and would enter competitions and train weekly, we would also welcome all beginners, all social members and encourage the social scene just as much as your Leicester rugby team might.
With that positioning in mind, a five student-strong committee – conveniently all PR students – pushed BU Trampolining with the aim of becoming one of the top clubs at the university with the most welcoming attitude and hopefully nominated for one of the Student Union’s awards.
We started with simple PR strategies like word of mouth, had a logo created by a design student – cheap, cheerful and great experience for them too! We placed posters around campus and most importantly, I was lucky enough to know someone on the student newspaper team so we had an article placed about our club launch.
From that point on our membership soared.
We felt it was important to establish and maintain a digital presence because let’s face it, students spend a considerable amount of time across the various different platforms so we set up a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, YouTube account and website all linking through to each other.
Kit – and community
Our kit was another fantastic promotional tool. In the same way a football fan would recognise the cockerel from the Spurs kit, we wanted our logo both recognised and respected amongst BU students. Showing off both our logo and BU Trampolining, we did our best to ensure our kit was seen around campus as often as possible and always worn during training sessions.
It was also important to us that our members, particularly the younger ones that may have just moved away from home felt like they belonged to a community; a friendship group they could train, socialise and study with. The kit provided a fantastic stepping stone to achieving this.
In May 2010, the Student Union awarded us with Best Newcomer. Just to be nominated for this award is a fantastic privilege but winning it really raised both morale and awareness of our club. We were at the same event as the Bournemouth Brightstars – two-time winners of the British Cheerleading Association Nationals!
Having launched half way through the previous academic year, we were at a slight disadvantage. We needed to regroup and put 100% into recruiting Freshers in the new academic year.
As a committee, we attended both Bournemouth University Fresher’s Fair and AUCB Fresher’s Fair, opening ourselves up to the Arts Institute as well.
We displayed our kit, photos from sessions and socials and obtained as many email addresses as possible to keep students updated with our plans. And as we had hoped, our membership figures more than doubled.
As with any expanding business or organisation, as we grew in members, we needed to accommodate them which meant increasing our space and possible sessions. After previously only using two trampolines per session, we increased this to four and had two coaches spread between them.
The club members were separated into advanced and beginners and it became clear that BU Trampolining had reached competing level.
Sponsorship of university sports clubs is now vital for survival, especially if you want to send some of your members around the country competing. Sponsorship could mean a decrease in membership fees, more social aspects to the club, the possibility of joining that infamous Varsity Easter tour and being able to send members to BUCS championships.
We received a few offers from local event companies; A-Star Promotions and Cocoloco but the Student Union were keen for us to remain independent and not endorse brands away from the university. We had established an affiliation with Ringwood and Bournemouth Trampoline Club who in the past have trained some of Britain’s top trampolinists for example Jem Campbell. One of their sessions held in Bournemouth became open for us to use at a discounted rate with the supply of both trampolines and coaches.
Having five PR students as a committee had it benefits but it also meant an entirely new committee was needed when we all left for placement. Between us, we selected five new personalities that could run the club and take it to an entirely new level. We felt this shake up could be everything the club needed for a refresh on brand identity so we created a massive fuss.
Starting with the announcement of our new president, we created a video that was played at the university and available through our various social media platforms. The video was light-hearted and purely created to raise awareness of our new presidency and the exciting opportunities he would bring with him. On top of the video, we did an interview on our student radio station and placed another article in Nerve, the student newspaper.
Georgie Smalldridge has just taken over from my successor Matt Nugent and has her own ideas about where she wants to take the club during its third year.
“With at least twenty students training per week, we’ve developed a really strong group of enthusiastic students. We have a new kit that everyone wears – and not just to training, in lectures too! We’ve just competed in BUCS for the first time and that really boosted moral in the club, everyone’s had such a positive and dedicated approach to training this year and the improvements in skills have been fantastic. Hopefully we’ll have more competitors next year and gradually the word of Trampolining will spread! I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
BU Trampolining is still very much in the early stages for a university club and compared with your major varsity sports at university, faces the issue of being seen as a minority club or perhaps a fad. In a little over two years, the club has already shown great potential in both short and long term goals. The committee will always be up against the day-to-day sports and pushing to receive the support to maintain their superb reputation at Bournemouth but if you’re looking for a fun sport open to all levels, any age and to both men and women, trampolining should be one of the few answers.