Bill Liley, who now coaches at Newton High in Iowa, explained to an audience at a Seattle clinic a few years back (Liley is a Seattle native) that when at Eastside Catholic, he hosted an annual Orange & Blue Night in the school’s gymnasium. While his event typically took place during the holiday break, it could also be used as a preseason kickoff party as well.
Liley had players lay down carpeting and set up tables at one end of the gym. Parents made buffet-style dishes and spectators were charged an admission fee for the event. Plus, there was a raffle and shooting games as other money-makers for the program.
The night culminated in a scrimmage featuring players from every level beginning with fifth graders and finishing with the varsity, including boys and girls (if the other program wants to participate) Break each level into two teams (orange vs. blue for Liley) and they play for a quarter. Keep a running tally throughout the evening to see which team color wins so it’s competitive and keeps players engaged.
“It’s crazy because every year the game comes down to the boys varsity on the floor and is decided by the last shot. Then, all the players from the winning team get their picture taken and it’s up in the school all year,” Liley explained. “The young kids really, truly start to feel like they are part of the program after this night.”
It takes a lot of planning and doesn’t come together in just a week or two, so as you update your playbook this summer, consider getting a jump on your preseason event preparations as well.