National Victory! The 200th Rivalry Program Earns Top CoSIDA Award

It may not be college basketball season, but here in the Division of Public Affairs and Marketing, we are celebrating a special kind of hoops-related victory. 

“The Rivalry” — the highly anticipated showdown on the court between Hope College and Calvin College (now Calvin University) — has been called one of the best in the country by ESPN. And last month, a special game-day program for the 200th Rivalry earned an especially fitting honor: Best in the Nation

In June, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) awarded Hope College first place for “Special Event Program – College Division” as part of its 2018-19 Publications & Design Contests. CoSIDA’s “College Division” includes all non-NCAA Division I schools, including NCAA Division III, NCAA Division II, NAIA and National Junior College Athletic Association.

It all started last year, when members of the Public Affairs and Marketing team pitched an idea: to create a unique piece commemorating the milestone match-up between the Hope and Calvin men’s basketball teams, taking place Feb. 2, 2019 at Hope’s DeVos Fieldhouse. The idea turned into a reality, resulting in a sharp 24-page piece that perfectly captured the high caliber of the competition. 

Kudos to the following members of the Hope College Public Affairs and Marketing team, whose collaboration yielded the award-winning program:

  • Eva Dean Folkert, director of communication services, served as the managing editor and writer. 
  • Alan Babbitt, sports information director, was a contributing writer and photographer.
  • Paul Willard, graphic designer, designed the program layout and provided illustrations.

Other contributors to the program were: Rebecca Robrahn, director of creative services, who oversaw the design process to completion; writer and photographer Tom Renner, retired associate vice president for public and community relations at Hope College; writer Jeff Febus, Calvin’s sports information coordinator; writers Dr. Chad Carlson, associate professor of kinesiology at Hope, and Dr. Brian Bolt, professor of kinesiology at Calvin; and freelance photographers Steven Herppich, Jon Lundstrom, Rob Kurtycz and Dan Vos.

I am so proud to work with such a creative, talented colleagues. Congratulations to everyone who helped earn this well-deserved victory!   Hope and Calvin have been playing each other in men’s basketball since 1920. After 201 games, the two teams are separated by just five wins and 98 points. Check out the 2019-20 Rivalry schedule!

Coach. Clutch Player. Coworker. Courtney Kust!

That is my goal in this job — to shape the players to be the best version of themselves and while we’re at it, help the team win a few games.” — Courtney Kust ’13

It’s a reality of team dynamics in the workplace: You have those who are natural coaches. You have those who are natural clutch players. And then, you have those individuals who are both — individuals who are able to rally the team, make the tough decision and call the play just as well as they are able to make the assist, take the shot and grab the rebound. The Public Affairs and Marketing Division is blessed to have that rare combination in Courtney Kust ’13, who serves as an assistant coach for the Hope women’s basketball team and an events and conferences manager for the Hope campus community.

Today, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association named Courtney to its 2018 “Thirty Under 30” Class — a distinction that recognizes 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches age 30 and under at all levels of the game.

Assistant Coach Courtney Kust in action

Courtney’s coworkers know that she is a rock star. Now, the WBCA agrees, and we couldn’t be happier. We are really, really proud of Courtney… and we just have to boast a little because, well, we know she’s not going to.

Courtney leads with integrity, passion and commitment. She is determined and hardworking, and is never willing to give less than her all. In the Events and Conferences Office, Courtney develops and coordinates conferences and camps here at Hope. She also oversees student workers in the audio-visual booth for athletic events, summer housing events and first responders. On the court, Courtney assists Coach Brian Morehouse in leading a team of strong, focused athletes who, this year, finished their season with a strong run to the Elite Eight… #GoHope!

Last week, I was in a meeting that opened with a prayer called “Liturgy for Those Who Compete.” The prayer concludes with the following words:

Let me model what it is to be
one fiercely focused on, and invested in,
the drama at hand,
pushing myself always towards the goal,
and yet ever extending
a humility and graciousness
in keeping with my status
as your servant, O Christ.

As I heard those words, I couldn’t help but think of Courtney, who shared the following when she learned about the award:

“Coaching at Hope definitely has God’s fingerprints all over it. Never in a million years did I think I would be back at Hope, but the opportunity came and I couldn’t resist the chance to be a part of the women’s basketball program again. I have loved building relationships with the players and being a source of encouragement and positivity in their lives. That is my goal in this job — to shape the players to be the best version of themselves and while, we’re at it, help the team win a few games.”

Courtney, you are a clutch player for the entire Hope College team, and we are so grateful for everything you do to help us all become better versions of ourselves. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor! #FireUp!

Building Social Media Strategy A Shared Task Across All Colleges

From left, Alan Babbitt, Jil Price, Baylor’s Associate Director of Athletic Communications, and Benjamin Stockwell, Assumption’s Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications

Instagram Stories. Facebook videos. Twitter graphics. Snapchat filters. Rapidly evolving social media presents similar challenges and opportunities for colleges all across the country, whether they are trying to promote student-athlete success in the classroom or in athletic competition.

The questions asked and answers sought here at Hope College aren’t much different than the ones asked at scholarship-offering institutions such as Baylor University in Texas and Assumption College in Massachusetts.

I recently was invited to speak on a panel at the annual College Sports Information Directors of America, National Association of College Marketing Administrators, and National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Conference in Orlando, Florida, along with athletic communication professionals and marketers from NCAA Division I member Baylor and NCAA Division II Assumption.

Jil Price of Baylor, Ben Stockwell of Assumption and myself shared our insights on and experiences from developing a social media strategy with fellow athletic communication professionals and athletic administrators. We covered topics ranging from covering all of your sports without making teams feel inferior, to how to emphasize how to focus on a positive social media message, to teaching coaches how to support the college’s social media reach and how to utilize the coaches who already excel in social media.

We stressed how important communication and consistency are to creating a social media strategy that is both engaging and celebratory of all student-athlete accomplishments, no matter the varying levels of public and media interest.

While there are an increasing number of promotional options in social media, the fundamentals and keys to success remain the same for all institutions. Be focused. Be intentional. Whatever you do, do it well to maximize your opportunity to connect with the public, whether it be student-athletes, coaches, fans, or prospective students.