Involve your student-athletes in your marketing, promotion, and social media!

At Gilmour Academy, Associate Athletic Director/Middle School Director of Athletics, Kristy Booher, and I try to involve our student-athletes in all of our marketing, promotion, and social media endeavors. We think including our student-athletes is great for several reasons:

  1. They feel a part of the process.
  2. They will tell us if it is “cool” or not.
  3. We get to know the student-athletes on a different level.
  4. If they have a say, they are more likely to promote, share and like what we are trying to accomplish.
  5. Makes them feel special and gives them a college/pro feel to athletics.

Some of the many ways we involve our student-athletes include: YouTube interviews, Instagram contests, game themes, prizes for our #LANCERNATION App, and quotes on graphics. Let’s break each one down a little further:


YouTube Videos: We film three different types of videos for YouTube. The first two types are more student-athlete driven and include promo videos and after-game interview videos.


The promo videos are used to hype the upcoming season or particular events and sometimes include music as well as student-athlete/coach interviews.  Sample here: (Behind the scenes of our photoshoot)


The interview videos are when we select particular student-athletes to answer questions about the game that just ended and talk about what’s next for the team.  Sample here: (Senior volleyball players)



The third type of video we produce is the LancerLowdown. This segment is a little longer in length and tells a story. We allow the community to write in and ask the athletic department questions about athletics. We then answer those questions directly using video and interviews.  Sample here: (2015 Hall of Fame)


With video, it is often more time consuming, so we figured out a way to speed up the process from filming to uploading the video to YouTube and then sharing. We purchased a mini-iPad iOgrapher rig (Take a look here: ) and outfitted it with an external microphone, light, and lenses. We use iMovie to create the video and upload it right from the mini-iPad to YouTube. This makes the process quick and easy.


Instagram Contests/Student Takeovers: So far this year, we’ve run one contest and one student takeover with great success. The first Instagram contest centered on our school mascot! The Gilmour Academy mascot is the Lancer so our contest theme was: “What does it mean to be a Lancer?” At the start of ever school year, our incoming 9th graders spend the night in our Athletic Center as part of orientation. By having a captive audience, we thought what better way to introduce the new students to part of our social media plan AND get them involved at the same time. So for one of their breakout sessions, they split into advisory groups and had to answer the contest question by submitting either one photo or video as a group. The contest “must haves” included: everyone in the group had to be in the photo or video; it had to have our logo somewhere in it; and the group had to submit it using the hashtag #2015TwilightTudor. We awarded the top three groups with gift cards based on the number of “likes” and a panel of judges that voted for the top three. The reason this contest was a hit was because it allowed our channel to gain more followers, while displaying a great amount of school pride all while involving many students and adults. Plus, the winners enjoyed the prizes!


The Student Takeover is an idea from Lynnea Phillips, ( @LynneaPhillips ) Social Media Coordinator for the University of North Carolina. We wanted our community to have a glimpse into a day in the life of a Gilmour student-athlete so we selected a student-athlete and then had her “take over” our official athletic Instagram account by posting about once an hour throughout the school/athletic day. We encouraged the student-athlete to include her peers, coaches, and teachers in her posts. A must was including the official hashtag #GALANCERTAKEOVER on all posts. After the day ended, we compiled all of the student-athlete’s posts into one Storify post that the community could go back and look at what the day looked like from the student-athlete’s point of view. Here is our first takeover:


Quotes on Graphics: One of the best ways to showcase our student-athletes, coaches and teams is by gathering quotes from them and then turning those quotes into graphics. We bring the student-athletes into our office and have a conversation with them and then pull out the quote to use. We feel with the student-athletes, it makes them comfortable to have a conversation rather than asking for a direct quote. For coaches, we ask for a direct quote for the graphic. Here are some examples:

ciuniquote foltzquote leskoquote


#LANCERNATION App: Not only do we use this for our check-ins to our events, but we use the messaging feature to communicate to the users our “theme nights” and what items we will be giving out during a particular game. We often work with the students to help communicate their “theme nights” to help promote it across all channels. We’ve had Blue-Outs, White-Outs, Beach Nights and more!


One of our goals in the athletic department is for our student-athletes to have an experience much like that of a college or pro athlete. We understand that many of our student-athletes will only wear that jersey for four years and we want to try to make that short time as special as we can. We also want all of our students to be a family. It is important for the students to be involved in all aspects of athletics, NOT just in the sport they participate. Being a fan creates some of the greatest memories in the high school experience. And that experience can live well beyond the few years of schooling, transcending into adulthood and carrying over to future generations.

Jeff Walrich

Director of Athletics at Gilmour Academy

Jeff Walrich is in his fourth year as the director of athletics for Gilmour Academy and his 15th year overall in K-12 independent schools. Since his arrival at Gilmour, he has been instrumental in developing the athletic program’s presence in social media, establishing its relationship with Nike, creating professional development opportunities for the coaching staff and kicking off a plan to make Gilmour athletics more recognizable on campus and throughout the community.