The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

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The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby Tale of Mac Datho's Pachycephalosaur » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:37 pm

So, it's Spring again, with only ICT left to attend for my school, which means that my mind is really only on one thing: next year. And with that train of thought comes no small amount of concern about how to get high schools to come to our tournaments.

You see, the circuit around Buffalo is far from typical. There is the NY Masterminds league, as well as a few local radio leagues that use :chip:'s questions, so there's really no communication between teams (and arguably not very much passion for the game). So, naturally, it is beyond difficult to get schools to come to tournaments. My outreach activities basically amount to cold-contacting fifty teams from Buffalo and Rochester (I have an email list that I've built over the past few months using online data) and hoping that they respond (my rate is hovering around 10%).

We had 8 teams this season attend our tournament, and I'd really like to get that up to 24 for this coming season. We expect all the schools who attended this past season to come again, many with additional teams, but I'm having trouble contacting new schools!

I've also been told to start staffing events around the area, but aside from Masterminds, there really aren't any events, other than the ones we run at UB. And Masterminds runs on weekday afternoons, which is just a horrible time for me.

I'd appreciate any suggestions about how to actually raise awareness and attendance. Thanks in advance.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby David Riley » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:33 pm

If you do blind invites via snail mail, be sure to address them to the "Quiz Bowl Coach" or "Academic Team Coach". if you send it c/o the school only then it will probably get buried on someone's desk. I'm assuming that you're hosting high school level tournaments.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby Tale of Mac Datho's Pachycephalosaur » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:22 pm

I have a list of schools (from a combination of NAQT's website and the Masterminds homepage), and I scour district websites for coach email addresses. Then I send them a marginally-customized form letter. Do you think I should instead send a hard-copy letter? Would that get more responses?
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:05 am

One problem we've run into with teams in Northeastern Missouri is that they don't have a long memory when it comes to tournaments. It certainly could help to get your name out there if you A) send out an invitation letter that explains what pyramidal quizbowl is and explains the rules you will use at various tournaments, in addition to any tournaments you will be hosting and B) following that up with e-mail contact with coaches, on a month-by-month basis to try and get teams registered. This will be the system we use next year, and I'm hopeful that it will be very effective.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby cchiego » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:57 pm

Try this:

Call up school's office.

"Hello, do you happen to know who the Academic Team Coach or Sponsor is? If not, can you look it up?"

If Yes:

"Great! Can you get me his/her email? Thanks! And can you give me his/her extension? Thank you."

If No:

"Ah okay, do you happen to have someone in charge of extracurricular activities that I could talk to?"

Works wonders for figuring out who's actually in charge and getting up-to-date name and contact info (stuff online is good, but it's often outdated). Then, you can email, snail mail, and call all the possible contacts. Just email or just snail mail likely won't work. Keep talking to people and be enthusiastic.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby Remember-the-Alamo-Remember-Goliad » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:30 pm

Although Texas is a LONG way from NY, one of the things you might try is to ask students in your own school who attend "academic" events with other schools, such as National Honor Society, Cum Laude, Math Club, Debate Club, JETS (Junior Engineers), etc. to use their contacts with/at other schools to locate students who might be willing to give QB a try.
Also, having your own faculty sponsor be out front as someone willing to mentor a fellow teacher at an area school makes it A LOT EASIER to get something started at another area high school.
Take it for what it's worth -- and good luck!
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby mhayes » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:34 pm

Zach, have you considered possibly reaching out to other states? Northeast Ohio has a vibrant quiz bowl circuit that plays on good questions. For many schools, it would only be about a 2.5 to 3 hour drive to Buffalo.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby Tale of Mac Datho's Pachycephalosaur » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:42 pm

Remember-the-Alamo-Remember-Goliad wrote:Although Texas is a LONG way from NY, one of the things you might try is to ask students in your own school who attend "academic" events with other schools, such as National Honor Society, Cum Laude, Math Club, Debate Club, JETS (Junior Engineers), etc. to use their contacts with/at other schools to locate students who might be willing to give QB a try.
Also, having your own faculty sponsor be out front as someone willing to mentor a fellow teacher at an area school makes it A LOT EASIER to get something started at another area high school.
Take it for what it's worth -- and good luck!


I'm in college now, but in my experience, students from different districts don't seem to talk much. In the meantime, my contacts are drying up in my home district.

As for a faculty sponsor, I had considered it, but there doesn't seem to be anyone around campus who even knows what quiz bowl is, much less why anyone would want to spend their Saturday doing it. You wouldn't imagine the funny looks I get (well, maybe you would). I have considered appointing an outreach director, but no one's really been enthused about it (maybe I'll tackle that once I step down at the end of next year--although I hope I can get an ex-Masterminds frosh into my web early enough next year, so that I don't have to).

mhayes wrote:Zach, have you considered possibly reaching out to other states? Northeast Ohio has a vibrant quiz bowl circuit that plays on good questions. For many schools, it would only be about a 2.5 to 3 hour drive to Buffalo.


Yeah, Matt, that's a thought that's been bouncing around in my big bulbous brain for a while now, but I'm pretty clueless about Ohio quiz bowl. I might be able to get some teams from Mahoning County, but I'm largely unaware of other programs, aside from Olmsted Falls. I also have some qualms about claiming exclusivity on a set, and then being on the hook for paying for 10 teams from Ohio. Would I be taking a big risk by hinging our tournaments on attendance by Ohio teams? Are there 10 or 15 schools who would send teams up to the land of bad sports teams and worse weather?
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby mhayes » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:00 pm

Melkor6000 wrote: I also have some qualms about claiming exclusivity on a set, and then being on the hook for paying for 10 teams from Ohio. Would I be taking a big risk by hinging our tournaments on attendance by Ohio teams? Are there 10 or 15 schools who would send teams up to the land of bad sports teams and worse weather?


Yeah those are legit concerns. I'm not sure if you could pull as many as 15 teams, but there are certainly many teams who wouldn't mind traveling that distance. I know some of them would welcome a change of scenery every now and then, so I definitely think you could get some northeast Ohio teams to attend.

It may be risky, but it's probably worth looking into.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby bird bird bird bird bird » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:25 pm

Melkor6000 wrote:I also have some qualms about claiming exclusivity on a set, and then being on the hook for paying for 10 teams from Ohio. Would I be taking a big risk by hinging our tournaments on attendance by Ohio teams? Are there 10 or 15 schools who would send teams up to the land of bad sports teams and worse weather?


Note that you wouldn't necessarily need to claim exclusivity on a set to invite Ohio teams: just find a set that's not being used in Ohio itself (IS #107, which you used last fall, was not, and a few Ohio teams went to West Virginia and Pennsylvania tournaments using that set)
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby cwRsync » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:43 pm

While the Trumbull County Prep Bowl doesn't use good questions like the league in Mahoning County does, it is closer to Buffalo and some of the teams other than Warren G. Harding (who obviously travels) have also left the county to play a good tournament or two.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby MahoningQuizBowler » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:16 am

Ashtabula County is closer. Lakeside _used_ to do northeast Ohio events. Saints John and Paul have come to a tournament or two. Plus, there's Erie to consider. Is there anything there?
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby Tale of Mac Datho's Pachycephalosaur » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:09 am

All of these ideas are good: note to self to consult this thread when recruiting.

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Melkor6000 wrote:I also have some qualms about claiming exclusivity on a set, and then being on the hook for paying for 10 teams from Ohio. Would I be taking a big risk by hinging our tournaments on attendance by Ohio teams? Are there 10 or 15 schools who would send teams up to the land of bad sports teams and worse weather?


Note that you wouldn't necessarily need to claim exclusivity on a set to invite Ohio teams: just find a set that's not being used in Ohio itself (IS #107, which you used last fall, was not, and a few Ohio teams went to West Virginia and Pennsylvania tournaments using that set)


For some reason, I thought Bowling Green used 107. But now that I read the online report, I see that they used 108A. That's what I get for trying to think after midnight, I guess.

Perhaps more research is in order. What y'all are saying makes me think that I've really been missing some stuff, and that I am even more clueless about high school quiz bowl than I thought. Well, there's almost a month between finals and the end of the high school year, so I'll have more time.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby swwFCqb » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:47 am

Zach,

If you'd like I can go ahead and send some contact information your way for Ohio teams (and any NW PA teams whose emails I have) that I think may be interested in going up to Buffalo for a tournament. Teams such as Olmsted Falls, Solon, Warren Harding, and Copley, among others, do a good bit of traveling and a 3 hour trip to play some quizbowl wouldn't be out of the ordinary for them.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:30 pm

Melkor6000 wrote:Yeah, Matt, that's a thought that's been bouncing around in my big bulbous brain for a while now, but I'm pretty clueless about Ohio quiz bowl. I might be able to get some teams from Mahoning County, but I'm largely unaware of other programs, aside from Olmsted Falls.


Outside of South Range and maybe Lowellville, I think you would be hard pressed to get Mahoning County teams to travel. This is not to discourage you from trying, but it takes some considerable head-beating-against-wall just to get Mahoning teams to a tournament 30-40 minutes away...or hell one that's right down the road. But South Range and Lowellville are certainly the most active in the County, and I could see a Buffalo tournament appealing to them.

The teams mentioned by Matt and Steven are also good bets since you are interested in reaching out to Ohio teams. This past year, or two, Hawken has been more involved in tu/b tournaments around Ohio, and I believe are registered for HSNCT this year. They might be another team to get in contact with.
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Re: The Art of the Cold Call: Contacting High School Teams

Postby djones » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:51 pm

Feel free to pass along the information to me as well, either on the boards or at djones@NOSPAMnorthmontschools.net. We do a ton of traveling and haven't played in New York before, so if we haven't played the set or the weekend works, we would definitely consider attending. Its about a 6 hour drive for us, so if the field is good we would definitely consider it.
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