Wide Open Spaces
Billboards come in all shapes and sizes, and at Vintage (Calif.) High School, Head Track and Field Coach Brian Pruyn realized that a set of small advertisements might be enough to help him overcome the hurdles of buying new equipment for his program.
By Brian Pruyn, Head Track & Field Coach
Vintage High School in Napa, Calif.
I've read about schools that sell advertising banners, but I've never heard of one that has an adopt-a-hurdle program like ours--so as far as I can tell, this was my own idea. I started thinking of our track hurdles as being 100 little billboards that we could use for advertising space. I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool to put your business's name on a hurdle, or your daughter's name, or your old coach's name?"
My athletic director agreed, and we went to work. It costs us between $100 and $150 to buy each hurdle, so we decided to charge adoptees $125 apiece to print a few words across the front. We found a printer who charges us $50 for the job, and that gives us a $75 profit, which goes a long way toward buying a new hurdle. In the future, we'd like to find a way to do it ourselves, using decals, stencils, or glue-on letters. Once we do, it will become much more profitable.
We've been doing it for two years, and our goal is to have 100 hurdles. Right now, we have around 60, and of those, a dozen have been adopted.
To publicize the program, we send fliers home with athletes. Every time the athletic booster club has an event, like a pig roast or a poker night, we have a table with information about adopt-a-hurdle. Our local newspaper runs a free notice about the program, so we get a fair amount of press, and this year, I'm planning to email fliers to alumni, too.
Close to half of the hurdles have been bought by team parents, who put their son or daughter's name across the front. A quarter of the sales have gone to local businesses, and another quarter have gone to alumni.
The initial setup work is already done, so as long as it keeps generating income, I'll keep trying to make it work. Without a lot of effort, we've made close to $1,000, which is a pretty good return. And any time you can offset the cost of new equipment, you're making a good move.