In a decidedly different manner, Penn Athletics kicked off the year with a mandatory New Student Orientation picnic on Franklin Field Sunday geared toward initiating the freshmen class into the Penn sports community.
Students were given a Penn athletics T-shirt as well as other giveaways upon arriving, and the picnic included several short speeches from coaches, basketball season ticket sales and several contests in which students could interact with athletes. It concluded with the freshmen class spelling out ‘2014’ on the field.
“We feel that for an inaugural event, it was very successful. The students learned first hand about Penn Athletics and the traditions that make Penn Penn,” said Penn Athletics assistant marketing manager J.A. Craggs.
“This event was a great step toward our goal of increasing engagement with the student body and increasing school spirit.”
Students that attended the optional freshman event held on Hill Field in previous years may remember a less structured attempt to welcome freshman into the athletic spirit, with fewer teams and coaches involved, smaller attendance figures and few planned activities.
“The NSO picnic traditionally didn’t really have programming so we’ve taken that event to Franklin Field to try to expose our freshman to athletics generally,” said senior associate athletic director Alanna Shanahan.
The NSO picnic is one of several tangible examples of the marketing departments efforts to introduce students into the spirit Penn athletics community early on.
“This is the first time we’ve ever really been able to do this in front of the freshmen,” Craggs said.
“Normally its just a letter that we send out that gets mailed out to them that gets thrown out or lost, so the fact that students can actually literally come down, meet Jerome Allen and get that bond with coach [Kerry] Carr, it makes students feel like they are friends with the coach or friends with the athletes.”
While attendance figures were slightly smaller than projected — about 1700 students turned out — students appeared to respond with enthusiasm, with many staying longer than the two-hour time frame.
“It’s really festive,” freshman Dan Zhang said. “I feel as if even though Penn is a really large school we have a really tight community and I will definitely come out to support the sports teams.”
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