January 13, 2014 • Winning Hoops

Signs add spirit to schools athletic wing

by Kevin Hoffman, Managing Editor

The walls in the athletic wing at Del Valle High School (Texas) were like that of an old hospital — dull, empty, forgettable. In a state that prides itself on athletic prowess, that was something that needed to change, helping to remind students of the value of sports.

It was a simple project, yet one that could have a profound effect on the morale of those who wear the school’s colors. So when Girls Athletic Director Tawni Angel saw an opportunity that could help improve the school’s look, she didn’t hesitate to make a change.

“We had those white walls all the way around, and we had talked about painting them or doing something to liven the place up, said Angel. She worked with Big Signs, spending about two or three months creating a plan that would work within the school’s price range. Last spring we developed a new Cardinal logo, so we were talking about branding and getting it out there, and this just seemed like the answer.”

Del Valle hung 16 banners in the school’s athletic wing. Students who don’t play sports regularly pass through these hallways, allowing them to see the pride the school takes in Cardinal sports.

The banners display the school name and logo, but many of them also include motivational phrases that best describe the type of work ethic and attitude Del Valle wants to instill in its student-athletes. The banners already have had a positive impact, and Angel said there is a noticeable boost in student-athlete morale.

“They love it, and they’re very territorial about that area, she said. Angel was initially concerned the banners might be damaged in the high-traffic hallways, but she’s been impressed at the lengths students go to keep them in good shape.

They take good care of those banners, and there are a lot of alumni who come back and are in awe that these things looks so nice.”

Angel said the school first considered covering the walls with pictures and other things the student-athletes could embrace, but the department believed that would take too long given the number of empty walls. That’s when they turned to banners and Big Signs.

The athletic program welcomed ideas from coaches and students, and those shaped what would eventually grace the walls at Del Valle. She said the best ideas were sent to Big Signs, and the school worked closely with the company to make sure they developed eye-catching designs.

That regular communication is what assured Del Valle it was getting exactly what it wanted. Angel said she probably exchanged more than 100 emails and phone calls with Big Signs, making sure everything was in order. She first started visiting with the company in February 2013 and coaches hung the banners five months later, just in time for the fall semester.

“Probably the most important thing is getting the entire school and the athletic department involved, because everyone bought into it, Angel said. We didn’t just unveil the new logo and say, ‘here you go.’ We got the school board, superintendent and everyone involved. They were pleased with the decisions that were made and understood that the entire dollar amount was well worth it.”

Like most renovation projects and upgrades, athletic directors are forced to either fundraise or reallocate funds in their budgets to pay for the expenses. Angel said she was able to skimp in certain areas and pull from other accounts, in addition to receiving donations for the banners. The school may have to do the same thing in the future when it makes improvements at other facilities.

Angel plans to work with Big Signs again, this time creating a plan to install new signage and windscreens at the football stadium, with the possibility of doing the same at the softball and baseball fields. It’s all another step toward aesthetically improving the school’s athletic facilities, and getting student-athletes more excited about being a part of the program.

“It’s really been a morale boost for these students, Angel said. And because so many people were involved — the athletes, coaches, faculty and administration — it really was a successful project.”