Big Day is a concept we would like to develop with schools, where the students are able to come up with ideas and make them work. A certain day becomes a Big Day because the students decided to make it a Big Day (jumping through all the administrative hoops of course). It is a chance for students to create an event and raise some money. We can get involved but will only do so as a Welcome Guest.
Eileen teaches at Crystal Cathedral Academy. When our girls were in junior high, I joined Eileen and helped her coach their basketball team. The girls on the team were complaining to me that no one showed up for their games – actually they would get 8 to 10 people. I told them that I knew of two ways to get people to their games. The first way was to win all their games – people would start coming to see them win. The second way was to make their game into an event that people wanted to come to. They opted for the second one. We picked a day and came up with these things to try:
• Free admission, and give the students that come a ticket to win prizes. Eileen and I spent about $50 on prizes.
• The teacher with the highest percentage of their class in attendance received a $25 certificate – we used federal reserve notes rather than a gift card.
• Bottles, coins, cans – we asked the students to bring in bottles, coins and cans. No prizes or awards, just bring them in as part of the event. If we got a certain amount a leader at the church or school would come and shoot two freethrows at the game. If a larger amount was collected they would wear a basketball uniform while shooting.
Other things that were added on occasion:
• The minister at the opposing school was invited to come and shoot two freethrows. If he made both, he got $200. If he made one, he got $20. If he didn’t make any we thanked him for coming. That was probably too high. $100 and $10 would probably work to get him there. We never had to pay, so it worked out.
• Basketball hokey pokey – use the song they know, with words and actions to teach the kids how to pivot and control the ball. A little wild, but usually worth while.
• A staff person to run down, shoot a layup at one end and then run down and shoot at the other end in a fixed amount of time. We used a teacher one time and a child care worker one time. Both of them could dunk the ball so the kids thought that was great. If they made it within the time, there would be ice cream for the kids on a future day. The shooting was fun and exciting, although giving away that much ice cream ate into the profits…
• Girls on the team were assigned to collect the bottles, coins and cans from a specific room. We would collect for a week. An interesting result was that some of the eighth graders, who previously would complain about the younger kids being at the school, connected with the first graders and the next week they were out turning jump ropes for the first graders.
• We announced each player on both teams and had them run out to the middle of the court. The players really like this and it doesn’t cost anything. Prizes were given at half time which made it last an extra 10 or 15 minutes. We gave the refs water or soda and snacks and paid them a little extra for the additional time.
• Eileen printed a program with the players listed in it. And made sure the other school was okay with the extra things going on.
• Special team meal – the kids paid a dollar or two and that usually covered the meal. What they liked was that they were special and got to go somewhere different than all the other junior high kids for this one lunch.
How did it work out?
Each year when I was coaching we had over 300 people show up. A note went home to let parents know to pick up their kids from child care down in the gym. Parents would stick around for part of the game. After the first year, we came out ahead each year. The goal wasn’t especially to have a fund raiser, but to cover any costs and to create a memorable event for the school.
Unexpected result: The first graders would do a cheer – CCA all the way. They could do that over and over and over. Each year the new first graders would pick up the cheer — that really was good (ok it got on my nerves a little bit, I’m not used to being around grade school kids). They would cheer when our girls made a basket – in warm ups. It was a fun way to introduce all the grade school kids and their parents to junior high sports.
We don’t really want to go where we aren’t welcome. Here is a story to illustrate this point.
A man was at his house in the middle of the afternoon. He was talking on the phone with a friend, when the doorbell rang. Must be a salesman. I’ll just ignore him. Then there was a knocking, followed by more ringing. This guy is a pain, he told his friend. Then he hears some noise and sees the guy jump his fence into the back yard and come to the sliding glass door. The man told his friend he would call back after he dealt with this stupid intruder. He went to the sliding glass door to yell at the guy, but before he could say anything the guy shouted “Call 911, I’ll get the hose, your garage roof is on fire.”
After the fire was out, the Man invited the guy in, gave him some ice tea and thanked him several times for being so persistent in getting his attention to help put out the fire.
The Man’s friend called back and asked if he had dealt with the intruder. The man answered, “he is no longer an uninvited intruder, he is now my welcome guest.” And he told his friend the story.
If someone asks and we can work out a way to help them create their own Big Day – we will help.
If someone doesn’t want us to help – we will stay out of the way and not help.