It is hard to believe that all throughout the state high school programs are preparing for the 2024-2025 season! Although basketball season is still going, it feels like the football and competition seasons just ended last week!
For you veteran coaches, I am sure you have your process memorized but for the first year head coach or coach who is always looking for some tips and new ideas...I got you covered!
I recently held my Tryout Information Meeting to a packed house in our Media Center at Sprayberry High School so this is fresh on my mind!
Here is my full process for holding the Tryout Information Meeting along with some details about each step along the way.
Set Your Date / Time / Location
Establish the date, time and location of your meeting. Make sure to check with your school's calendar to ensure that the location is not double booked. That has happened to me before and it makes for an awkward and tense interaction with the other program. Be sure that the date you are picking is far enough in the future that you will have time to market the event (more on marketing the event later!). When picking the time, keep in mind dismissal times for your school and the middle schools (in Cobb County, the middle schools are released at 4:15pm as opposed to high school dismissal of 3:30pm). Also keep in mind that parents who are working need to get from work, possibly home, and then to the meeting. Another thing to be mindful is, people have to eat! If your meeting is too late you start to interfere with dinner time. :-)
My Tryout Information Meeting is always for athletes and parents. Some programs will do a separate meeting for athletes and parents but I have never tried that approach.
My Tryout Information Meeting was held on January 22, 2024 at 6:30pm in the Media Center at Sprayberry High School. When we returned from the the winter break on January 3rd, I confirmed with our facilities scheduler to reserve the Media Center, made my time 6:30pm so families could easily make it and moved forward with marketing!
Marketing Your Meeting
As Communications Director at Sprayberry, I am over all websites, social media, and communication systems for the school. Sending information to our community is what I do all day so this part of the process is a bit natural! However, a few easy tricks can help you to share the information about your meeting in a quick and effective way. Below are a list of locations I where I share the information for our meeting:
Flyers around your high school and the feeder schools - Design, print, post! Get. your returning athletes to help!
Share the information with your feeder program! - They are your future!
Tell the current members of your program directly!
Social media posts - Post to your program social media, school, and/or athletics accounts!
Post on the school website
Post on the athletics website
Morning Announcements - The announcement was made roughly a dozen mornings.
Email to the current 9th-11th grade parents - The graphic I shared on social media. The information was also typed in the body of the email to be ADA compliant!
Email to the rising freshmen - Same as the email to the current high school students. You may need to reach out to your feeder middle schools for a contact who might be able to post this information for you.
Each of the emails and social media posts were made multiple times over the three week period I had leading into my meeting. I try to post no more than three times per week with the information.
When it comes to designing your flyers, social media posts, website updates, etc...I could talk about that ALL DAY, EVERY DAY! It is what I do ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!!! This post would never end if I were to get into that! If you want to talk specifics, please reach out! My contact information is at the end!
Have Your Presentation Materials Ready BEFORE the Meeting
For my meeting, I have a PowerPoint presentation, sign-in form through Office365, and QR codes that are a direct link to the presentation slides. Normally I just show the presentation, but because we were in the Media Center, I had a smaller screen as compared to a theatre projector.
My covers EVERYTHING about the tryouts process!
Since we were in the Media Center, I was able to login to several computers where a Sign-In Form was posted using Office365. This form collected athlete's name, email address along with a parent name and email address. This allows me see who was in attendance and have a contact email to send out updates after the meeting and before tryouts.
Copies of the QR code that directed to the presentation were distributed to each table which was a huge benefit for those who were sitting far away from the monitor or at an extreme angle.
The Meeting Itself
I have been told that I talk fast..really fast! Let's now add that I am preparing for my 11th year at Sprayberry and the the Tryout Information Meeting has not varied much over the last decade which means each year I talk faster and faster over the topics. I make a statement at the beginning for someone to raise their hand if I go too fast! However, when holding the meeting you want to get to the point on each topic and provide enough information to make the topic informative, rememberable, but not bore the attendees with details.
Practice the meeting! Run through the slides, agenda, or whatever guideline you have so you know what you will say on each topic. It's nothing different than a lecture that all of us in education have done!
If you can, slide a little joke, witty or punny comment in every now and again. Some of the athletes are EXTREMELY nervous and this could help lighten the mood!
Have Questions at the End
Be open for questions at the end! If you do not have any questions, one of two things have happened: you have shared all of your information so well that everyone knows everything, OR, people are too nervous to ask in front of the group! But encourage them to ask questions! Also mention that you are available for individual questions that would apply directly to that parent or athlete.
Have Your Tryout Materials (Application/Videos/Etc) Available BEFORE the Meeting
Be sure you have your materials before the meeting begins! Your Tryout Information Meeting is like a pep rally for your program and both athletes and parents will want to get started on the next steps IMMEDIATELY!
I post all of our materials to our program website at www.sprayberrycheerleading.com. Everything from the meeting is available BEFORE I walk into the meeting. I usually spend the day before the meeting ensuring that the site is updated and all links are working properly. Just before I opened the floor for questions, I showed the website and where the materials were located.
If you do hard copies of materials, take some time to get your copies made so that people are not waiting at the end. Remember to be mindful of their time too!
Send Out a Follow-Up / Thank You
Since I collected email addresses for those in attendance, I sent an email the following day thanking everyone for being in attendance and outlining a few FAQs or common mistakes or misconceptions I see when it comes to the tryout process. Remind them of the dates for tryouts and to reach out if there are any questions!
Speaking of tryouts...when are those?
When you are setting your Tryout Information Meeting date, take the time to look at when you want to hold your tryouts. You want to give each athlete enough time to complete any paperwork or events they need for tryouts (applications, physicals, interviews, etc) but not leave so much time that they have forgotten about your meeting!
My Tryout Information Meeting was January 22nd with applications being due on February 26th. This is just over a month which is plenty of time to complete my tryout application and for those who need a new physical to have it completed. My application process is not complicated, but it is tedious. I want to make sure athletes can pay close attention to detail and follow through with the process! If I had a simple sign-up sheet, the time between the Tryout Information Meeting and Tryouts would be considerably less than it is now.
My tryouts will begin on March 4th which gives me a full week to review paperwork and eligibility for tryouts.
As I stated earlier, veteran coaches may not need any of this information because they have their system down for their program. However, you may have learned something or seen something you might like to try! New coaches, take a look at sew what you may like to implement, add your own personal touch, and have at it! Just remember that there are a TON of experienced and very well respected coaches in the GCCA who are ALWAYS willing to help! DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK!
If you would like to see all of my tryout materials, please visit www.sprayberrycheerleading.com and click the Tryouts tab on the top menu bar.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask! Feel free to email me at Robert.Floyd@cobbk12.org
I wish everyone all the best for your Tryout Information Meeting and that it starts your 2024-2025 season off on a positive!
Have a good one!
Director of Cheerleading
Sprayberry High School