September 1, 2016 • From the BenchWinning Hoops

‘Fanorak’ app promotes fan attendance

Athletic director Ryan Anderson has big, interactive ideas about growing high school fan support. And with the help of a few of his students at Menomonee Falls High School (Wisconsin), he’s been able to do just that.

Students Connor Schmidt, Jonathan Grey and Matt Milos teamed up to create Fanorak, an app they hope will lead to a significant boost in attendance and school spirit at the suburban Milwaukee school and beyond.

“I can really see this taking off, Anderson said. Sports is the heartbeat of our community, and I think a lot of other places feel the same way. Here, people come out in throngs to all of our major events. The traditions run deep, and there’s so much interest.”

Now, with Fanorak, that participation can be measured.

By encouraging students to check-in at sporting events and other school functions, school spirit is fostered and camaraderie is strengthened. Google Maps and GPS coordinate to set “pins” and ensure students are present at games.

Users can track their points and the events they’ve attended and compete for a spot on the weekly leaderboard, which ranks students and community members. Anderson also has plans to create a fan of the year trophy, which would accompany bragging rights. Appropriately, Fanorak got its name from the British slang word “anorak” — a person with obsessive interests.

As of late December, about 30 students were using the app, but Anderson hopes incentives like T-shirts or pizzas for the most loyal fans will encourage use. Local businesses have already expressed interest in such partnerships.

Fanorak has garnered attention from across the country. Four school districts expressed interest in the app during last fall’s Wisconsin athletic directors conference, and the developers hope its popularity will spread.

Customizing the app is affordable and can be done for $600, plus a subsequent $300 yearly maintenance fee, Schmidt said. Obtaining display sponsors, a function allowed by Fanorak, could further diminish costs.

“We think there will be a lot of interest from athletic directors to try the product, Anderson said. We’ve tried fliers and posters around school, things like that. We’ve tried old-fashioned pen and paper to mark attendance at events. But apps, that’s where kids are really looking.”