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Starting up a team and how to hold on to whatever sponsorship you can get.

What some people don’t realize about sponsorship is the exorbitant cost that it takes to run a team and the amount of time that it takes to do everything necessary to manage it all. Although it is supposed to be a team effort to tackle the list of tasks that need to be completed, there are always still one or two people doing most of the work. The following are some pointers and I’ll list them in such a way that will hopefully help you understand how to get your own team started and what to expect and do when you go through those steps.

Mike Paxson

Mike Paxson

  1. Coming up with a Team Name and Logo Design – Image is everything, and so is a name. Naming your team, “Tuscaloosa Turkey Sniper Shooters” is really, sorry to say, not a good name. You have to come up with a name that’s going to sound catchy, like “Ironmen” – it’s become the “brand.”

    The design of the logo also helps create the appeal of the team, as well. Coming up with the right design and finding the right graphic designer to do it can sometimes mean having to pay or barter for it.

  2. Determining What Gear the Team will Support – Figuring out the line of products the team will use is another feat in and of itself. At your local field, ask them if there are any team packages available from paintball manufacturers they carry in their store. Many manufacturers offer a team package for those field/stores that have a good standing with them. The field can offer this to you, but your team will most likely have to do something for the field in return.
  3. Coming up with a Team Resume and Team Objective – Every team wants to win, and if they don’t, they’re fooling themselves, but nowadays, a team needs to come up with something that sets itself apart from the sea of teams that are already competing. You have to come up with something other than stating that you’re going to be a competitive paintball team and have other ideas that hopefully will draw more people into the sport. You’ll need to come up with a team resume, which will include your roster indicating your player’s names, ages, positions, and length of time playing. List what your team’s objective is and what you hope to achieve.
  4. Trying to Obtain Sponsorship – After the resume is completed, or perhaps you didn’t have to draw one up because you’re good at gab, it still takes time to make those phone calls and send those emails to say that which will result in that support. I already mentioned helping out your local paintball field/store in exchange for sponsorship support. Look to other local businesses in your area that sponsors paintball teams like Pizza Hut and talk to them about what kinds of sponsorship they can do. Even if it’s a free lunch, that’s money you saved to put towards your paintball expenses. Look for other creative ways to get support from a non-paintball business and search online for those companies that offer sports team support.
  5. Working for that Sponsorship – I mentioned above that your local field is a good resource to tap into when searching for what gear your team will support. Once the field offers it to you, this usually means that you’ll have to volunteer your time by working at the field either by reffing, gun teching, and/or cleaning up around the field. Once you order the gear and the jersey is made, including the field’s name as a sponsor is the right thing to do.
  6. Promoting the Team – Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube – everything on the internet that has an audience. Get your team’s name out there and be creative and unique. Creating buzzes, getting pictures taken, taking care of photographer friends and doing more than saying “Thanks” to ensure you still have their friendship first in mind. Writing press releases takes time, writing bios, answering emails full of basic questions, collecting images, setting up the photo shoots – also takes time. Once you do this legwork, the time you put into it will pay off.
  7. Setting up Practices – Set mandatory practices and non-mandatory practices. The mandatory ones are where the coaches (leadership) are present and everyone on the roster that wants a starting spot is there – no excuses. Have about two mandatory weekends a month, if that works in everyone’s schedule, but by all means, at least once. Then, for the rest of the open weekends, encourage your players to still meet together as a team, even if the coaches can’t be there. There are also going to be some holiday weekends where it’s important for your players to be with their families. So, you don’t want to make every weekend a mandatory one. However, idealistically, team practices every weekend would be the best way to go.
  8. Tournament Preparation – Getting all the gear ready for each event and paying entry fees, setting up hotels, renting vans can be one humongous chore. Start locally and then choose one national event to attend, whether it is the debut event or the final event of that league’s season (i.e. World Cup). Be sure to do this ahead of time and figure out the costs early so you and your team can save up. Constantly stay in touch with the league of choice’s website and find out what discounts are offered by way of hotel and rentals (if renting a car is what you choose to do).
  9. Staying Consistent – Try your best to keep the same players and sponsors that you start out with. By doing so, the players that you have will have a vested interest in the team because they were there from the start. If you start out with a sponsor that really put a lot out there for you and helped you keep your expenses down, pay respect to that sponsor by staying loyal. If something better comes along, be sure to let your current sponsor know what you’ve been offered and give them a chance to match that. Don’t put a bad taste in any former team sponsor’s mouths because you can’t forget who helped you when you first got started. It’s so important to try and keep the same sponsors and make it work. Jumping around from sponsor to sponsor only shows a lack of commitment and lack of loyalty. For the most part, manufacturers are only sponsoring professional and semi-pro (D1) teams, so if you manage to get a manufacturer’s support, stick with it. That’s why making sure you did your job for your sponsors in the year or year’s past is so vital to the success of the team having support in the following season.

In Paxson’s Pages, I will continue to talk about team issues. Make suggestions on what you would like to know more about as it pertains to your goals in paintball. If you have any questions about starting your own paintball team and want to know about sponsorship, comment below. If you have any good ideas, too, feel free to present them here, as well.