This article was originally published in the Feb. 27 issue of Young Alumni News, an email publication of the ISU Young Alumni Council sent bimonthly to graduates of the past 10 years. For more information about Young Alumni Council and the Alumni Association’s young alumni programming, contact Tillie Good at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the airing of ESPN’s College GameDay from Ames Jan. 17 and the Cyclone men’s basketball team enjoying unprecedented levels of media attention under head coach Fred Hoiberg, excitement about Iowa State basketball is greater than ever. So Young Alumni News wanted to know: What is it like to be at the center of all this hubbub? We recently caught up with Joel Gourley, Cyclone Alley Central Committee co-chair, to find out what life is like at Hilton these days. (Full 2014-2015 Cyclone Alley Central committee pictured at right)
YAN: First of all, how long have you been involved with Cyclone Alley and what do you do as co-chair?
JG: I have been involved with Cyclone Alley for three years. I was a committee member for 2 years and am a co-chair for this season. As co-chair, I work with my other co-chair and committee members to create the best possible atmosphere for our men’s and women’s basketball teams. Specifically, my fellow co-chair and I work with the athletics department to come up with new ideas to increase attendance and reward students for attending basketball games. We also oversee timeout promotions and other in-game activities that our committee puts on.
What about Cyclone Alley has changed or improved over the past three years?
I would say the biggest change has been in our reward system. We reward students for attending games by assigning points for each game attended. Then there are rewards for receiving a certain amount of points. We have switched our rewards and/or the criteria for receiving rewards each year. I feel this year we have our best system in place and have the best rewards we have ever offered.
Student tickets seem to be a hot commodity these days. Students have camped out overnight for tickets and even to appear on College GameDay. Describe the organization and planning required to meet this kind of demand.
Both of the Cyclone Alley co-chairs serve on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and that body serves as Jamie Pollard’s connection with students as the athletics department forms ticket policies and makes changes. While we don’t have any direct control over ticket policy, Cyclone Alley was one of the first groups to begin discussions about overselling the student section to allow more students access to men’s basketball specifically. For the most part the Athletics Ticket Office manages the organization required to sell tickets, and Cyclone Alley is committed to helping in any way we can.
What role does social media play in engaging Cyclone Alley members?
Social media is a huge asset for our marketing department. This is our main way of communicating with students about special events and opportunities that we may have going on. We use Facebook and Twitter to inform students about gamewatches, rewards, and giveaways. We also tweet updates about games for students unable to make it to Hilton.
What new cheers, props, or skits are you using this year?
This year we have made an effort to be even more active and visible during the games. We decided that investing in “big heads” that we could rent out during the games could accomplish that and improve the game atmosphere. So now we have 11 big heads to rent to students to wave during the game. We have also come up with new timeout promotions to try this year, including the 3-shot contest and the Naz Long 3-point shot of the game.
As a veteran on this committee, I have seen how new ideas can grow and evolve and the effect it will have future years. I am excited to see what we can put in place now that may be there 5 or 10 years from now.
The Cyclone women’s team has a very loyal fan following and consistently ranks among the top 10 nationally. Talk about being a part of Cyclone Alley at the women’s basketball games.
It is very exciting to be a Cyclone Alley member during women’s games. The whole Ames community is so close and does a great job of supporting Iowa State events. It is this special bond that makes women’s games so fun. As you said, our women’s games attendance is one of the best in the nation, and as a student you can get extremely close to the action making you feel like you are a part of the game.
Cyclone Alley treats the men’s and women’s games equally and doesn’t do anything unique for women’s games, per se. However, as I mentioned before, we have a rewards system in place to reward students for attending games. Attending a men’s game is worth 1 point and attending a women’s game is worth 2 points.
**The ESPN College GameDay experience was a memory that will last a long time for ISU students and fans alike. Check out some great photos of the production from Jim Heemstra
**Students aren’t the only ones who can make it loud at Cyclone basketball games. The ISUAA Club of Washington, D.C. recently road-tripped to West Virginia to cheer on Fred & Co. The Cyclones won, of course. Find out how you can connect with other ISU alumni in your community for gamewatches and road trips at www.isualum.org/clubs.
**Help make some #HiltonSouth Magic with us this March! If you’re planning to follow the Cyclone women’s and/or men’s basketball teams to the Big 12 Tournament, be sure to check out www.isualum.org/big12 for all the latest fan events and details.