Colgate University prides itself on providing students with a complete college experience. A major component of this experience is our 25 Division I athletic programs. These add to the Colgate experience for the many student-athletes on campus and their peers who cheer them on. However, another key impact that our sports teams make goes largely unrealized: they enhance the connection between the local Hamilton community and the university.
As we all know, Hamilton is a remote rural community that does not have the vast night-life opportunities that other larger settings may offer. Colgate’s Senior Associate Athletics Director Ann-Marie Guglieri pointed to this as a main reason why Colgate athletics mean so much to the local community.
“If you talk about bigger schools in bigger metropolitan areas there’s a lot of choices. If you’re at Columbia you can go to [a] Broadway show, a thousand different restaurants, you can go to a Knicks game, there are just a lot of options in New York City … In Hamilton, [Colgate sports] are the best show in town and a great option for people, both students and those who live in the community alike,” Guglieri said.
She continued to stress the value the student-athletes hold within the community and the support they receive from both the community and the faculty. Whether it be walking into Rusch’s or into the library, there is probably someone around who watched them on the field recently. This frequent recognition is a huge aspect of the relationship between the community and the athlete.
The vast network of Colgate supporters and alumni are critical to both the success of the athletic department and the strong connection to the Colgate community. A large portion of alumni student-athletes come back to campus at various times throughout the year, and many continue to stay involved with their old programs. Each year, homecoming weekend is a rewarding time for student-athletes, as an abundance of alumni from various programs come and share experiences with the current faces of the program.
The athletic department recognizes the importance of fostering the connection between athletes, alumni and the local community. Throughout each of the three sports seasons, the athletic department funds special events at sporting games to engage with the fans. Guglieri, who is responsible for managing the budget of the department, also commented on the efforts that the athletic department has made on this end.
“Natalie Carter is our assistant AD who oversees our marketing efforts. A few things she has done … is for every football game and quite a few basketball and hockey games as well as lacrosse, soccer and softball, we have different promotions to encourage people to come and bring their families and friends. For example, the men’s lacrosse game [on April 21] had fireworks after. There was a softball game [on April 23] and we had a petting zoo. On Saturday April 22 at the softball game we had ‘Community Day,’ where there was free barbecue and prizes for kids. During football season, we had events where if you bought four tickets you get four free hot dogs or something like that. Another thing we do as a department is we have our student athletes go to Sherburne-Earlville (the local […] elementary school) and volunteer in classrooms with those children. And that just really fosters a good mentorship relationship,” Guglieri said.
It is evident that Colgate sees the shared positive impact the athletic department can create for the students and local residents. As long as Colgate’s sports remain competitive and receive support from the community, they will remain the best show in town. Working to establish better relationships with the the town of Hamilton and the surrounding area are still priorities of the Colgate athletic department, and local support is a large part of what makes Colgate athletics successful.