Adding an Athletic SIG Event to a weekend of Class Reunions

Level of difficulty: Basic
Cost to attend: None (a Reunion is high cost, but nothing extra to attend this)

Event: The Class of 1970, the Yale Fencing Association and the Yale Athletic Department worked together to hold a simple all-class Fencing reception in the spring of 2010 during each of the two weekends designated for Class Reunions.

Lead time: 1 year
Date of event: June 2010

3 volunteers – 8 hours (total hours of all volunteers over whole year)
1 coach – 4 hours (2 hours at each event)
1 bottle liquor
Athletic department gave permission to use facilities

Results: 24 attendees – 12 at each of the two weekend receptions

Why a success? It provided a networking and bonding opportunity for former fencers who seldom get to New Haven. It also provided a chance for them to see Coach Harutunian, just celebrating his 40th year as Fencing Coach, who had been an important formative influence in many of these fencers’ lives. It was an efficient and low cost way for the Fencing Association to connect with more alumni.

The event was sufficiently successful that it was repeated in 2011.

(At least 2 fencers from Class of 1970 attended the event. For the Class of 1970 the event helped promote a Class-wide feeling of inclusion because it was combined with numerous other programming initiatives focusing on various different Class sub-groups, such as artists, musicians, anglers, bicyclists, sailors, rowers, martial artists. The breadth and depth of these multiple initiatives won the AYA Class Programming award in 2010 for the Class of 1970.)

Details: On late Saturday afternoon, on each of the two Class Reunion weekends, Coach Harutunian was in the Fencing Salon for an hour to greet former fencers, chat with them, and join them in a toast.

Resources needed: The organizational work was done by 3 volunteers: the Class of 1970 Reunion Chair, the President of the Yale Fencing Association, and the Vice President of the Yale Fencing Association. Each put in less than 3 hours of work. This involved getting approval from the Yale Athletic Department, getting buy-in from the Coach, getting the reception placed in the AYA general Reunion weekend schedules, and sending out email and other notices of the event to their constituencies.

AYA staff spent minimal time including the announcement in their programs. Coach Harutunian spent a few hours on each of two Reunion weekends greeting former students.

Other expenses: 1 bottle of liquor consumed over 2 weekends.

Metrics: Each weekend, 12 former fencers attended the reception.

During these two weekends 6,700 alumni visited New Haven for 14 Class Reunions.

Possible improvements: Better use of Facebook among alumni to promote and report on the event. (The Yale Fencing Association only started in spring of 2010.)