Photo by Genevieve Humphreys
This year was the first year that athletic events were promoted alongside other Alumni Weekend happenings, according to Aly Lilley, the new Associate Director for Athletic Giving and Engagement. Lilley’s position was created last year within the Office for Alumni Relations & Development. The creation of this position is one way Alumni Relations is working with the Department of Athletics to increase involvement and interaction with Trinity sports.
In her role, Lilley works to find new ways to encourage alumni to come to games and to interact with athletics, hoping to create fun ways for former Trinity athletes to associate with the university through, for example, tailgate and alumni chapter events.
“If you look at us compared to other Division III schools, I think we probably have more school spirit than most Division III schools because we have an athletic department that’s highly successful and more of a national presence in many of our sports than the typical Division III school,” said Julie Jenkins, head volleyball coach since 1985 and associate director of Athletics.
In addition to game promotion, the Order of the Tiger — an organization originally established in 1920 to maintain relationships among current and former Tigers — was re-introduced to engage athletic alumni and garner support for athletics. This year Alumni Relations also introduced the “Winning Streak Challenge,” a cumulative participation challenge that measures athletic alumni giving rates for individual sports over the course of the fiscal year. The winning alumni group is invited to a special reception during Alumni Weekend.
“The Winning Streak Challenge is a play on words. Obviously, you have a winning streak in sports, but a streak is also a group of tigers,” Lilley said.
Trinity’s volleyball alumni are currently in the lead with 33.6 percent of their 152 alumni participating in the challenge. However, while Jenkins was proud her sport led the way, it is not just volleyball alumni that give to Trinity Athletics.
“I think everybody’s percent of giving here at Trinity Athletics is higher than the giving rate for non-athletics at Trinity, so we’re pretty happy about the loyalty and the fact that our alumni continue to stay connected to the university and they continue to support the program,” Jenkins said.
Alumni give donations to specific sports teams and projects.
“We have a very strong and proud alumni base. They do a phenomenal job throughout the years. I think that some people don’t understand, for example, that the [new] scoreboard was donated money from alumni that gave specifically to that project. So it’s not any university money on the scoreboard side of things,” said Jerheme Urban, head football coach since 2013 and recent inductee to the TU Hall of Fame.
Alumni involvement is important to funding the Department of Athletics, as donations go directly into covering necessary expenses for individual sports.
“[Donations from alumni are] used for travel, so we can try to be more efficient with our time so that our guys miss less class time and have more time to study. We use it to make sure we have as many top-of-the-line helmets as we can to ensure that our equipment is cutting edge — and it’s not for aesthetics, it’s so we can try to be safe and protect our guys,” Urban said.
Although many students cannot financially support Trinity athletics, they can still show school spirit and support varsity, club and intramural teams by showing up to athletic events.
“I get it, athletics are not everyone’s things. A football game, you know, seeing grown men bang into each other, is not everybody’s thing,” Urban said. “We’re trying to work really hard to provide an exciting experience for people to come and get to know your fellow students and build life-long memories and experiences. I don’t think that it’s something that should just be reserved for those in Austin at UT or [at] A&M. We can do it here as a high academic institution as well.”