At Howard High School, the games are no longer only being played by those on the fields and courts.
Through a partnership with SuperFanHigh, Howard launched a mobile App at the end of September that allows individuals to check-in at school events and earn points that can be redeemed for prizes.
It’s early, but over 500 individuals have already registered an account and Michael Duffy, the school’s Athletics and Activities Manager, says things are taking off even faster than anticipated.
“We are really excited about where it’s starting and where it’s going to go,” Duffy said. “We’ve had great buy in from both our administration and our community and I don’t think anyone expected it to be this popular, this fast. But it’s been great to see.
“You look at the APP engagement numbers and we’re around 10,000 to 11,000 a week at the moment.”
Howard is the first high school in the state of Maryland to utilize this particular application. SuperFan, which Duffy was introduced to at the National Athletic Directors Conference last year, initially built its brand through working with colleges and universities.
As the company has grown, however, it’s expanded to the high school level and Duffy says he saw great potential in the APP to bring the Howard community closer together.
“When I first saw it I was intrigued and then when we sat down with them, it matched up really well with what we’ve been trying to do in terms of getting our community involved in our extra-curricular activities,” Duffy said. “The concept is based around sports, but we’re taking it beyond just that. Drama productions, concerts, It’s Academic competitions … We are trying to encourage students, parents and community members to support our students in whatever they are doing.”
Current students are the target audience according to Duffy, with the idea being to get them to stick around after school to support their peers. To use the APP, an individual simply needs to download it to their phone, set up a profile and then check-in when they arrive at the event.
“It’s very easy to use … just a couple clicks when you get to a game,” said Howard junior Michael Travisano, who runs cross country in the fall and plays lacrosse in the spring. “I’ve definitely gone to more games this season than I ever have in the past and I feel like in general it’s brought the student body together more. I think the athletes appreciate it too.”
The number of points awarded varies depending on the event, ranging anywhere from 10 to 30 points. Duffy says higher point totals are designated to events that typically have lower attendance, charge admission or are at a different school.
The athletic department has even reached out to Howard’s fall sports coaches to ask what the biggest games or matches are so that more points are designated to them.
“We’ve got a lot of flexibility and we’ve definitely been playing with it a good bit this first month,” said Duffy. “Football games are usually the most attended events so those have been worth fewer points than say a field hockey game or an Allied Soccer game. We want to encourage our fans to get out and support everyone.”
Duffy adds that points can also be accrued for answering APP poll questions or posting to social media.
As for the rewards, there are numerous levels to unlock. For example, 80 points is worth two slices of pizza or an Arby’s sandwich and a bottle of water. Moving up, 110 points can be redeemed for a Howard water bottle, while 275 points are good for a Howard SuperFan Shirt. Points don’t have to be cashed in, with prizes instead being awarded as soon as the preset point total is reached.
There have also been additional prizes given out for attending particular games, uploading photos to the FanCam in the APP or through random drawings involving individuals who rank near the top of the list in terms of points.
Howard keeps a running leaderboard on its Athletics twitter account and, as of Nov. 7, there were a handful of students already over the 300-point barrier. The top five as of the most recent update are, in order: Josh Vetter, Alex Stephanos, Miguel Gonzalez, Rebecca Warwick and Austin Aguilera.
Travisano, who ranks in the top 10 and won a random drawing in October to be an honorary captain for the football game against Glenelg, says there’s some friendly competition that goes on.
“Two of the other guys near the top are actually good friends of mine, so there’s definitely times where we’re competing to see who can go to more games and get more points,” he said. “There’s some bragging rights involved you could say.”
As for exactly how much of an overall bump, if any, the APP has provided in terms of attendance at games, Duffy says it’s too early to tell. But the buzz around the school has been extremely positive, he says, and that has him excited to see where things go from here.
“We’re kind of figuring a lot of this out on the fly because no one around here has really tried this before at the high school level,” he said. “The kickoff has been terrific, but we also know there is still a long way to go in terms of getting it to where we really want it. On the most basic level, though, it’s already doing what we want — getting people excited about the experience of events here at Howard.”