What it takes to plan a UW sports game

Photo from UW Athletics

Volleyball, cross-country and swimming are only some of the varsity sports events that bring students together throughout the term. The University of Waterloo, boasting 17 varsity sports teams, has athletes from a variety of faculties training multiple times a week in preparation for the season. But amongst so many disciplines, preparation for home games can vary vastly — for example,  a golf tournament is going to run very differently from a figure skating competition — and there are many factors that the UW athletic department must consider. 

The process of planning a sports event usually depends on the scale and complexity of the event. With all UW sports events, games are planned starting mid to late summer, when planning periods are allocated for each event. Other important factors worth considering usually include staff, facility usage, sponsors and more. All of these considerations are often handled by Jenny Mackay, marketing and communications manager at UW athletics. “The time it takes to plan an event depends on how intricate the event is. This could depend on who we are targeting as fans for the game, if there are special guests involved in an aspect of the event, what sponsor activations are involved, what the event theme is, what the in-game promotions are or if we are working with campus partners for examples” Mackay explained. 

When it comes to planning these large-scale events, Mackay is not alone. She has the support of many staff members who work on different projects with Mackay’s supervision to have the event run smoothly. An average UW sports event has upwards of 30 people or more working hard behind the scenes. These committees can range from promotions and ticketing to game operations and facilities. “From the special event planning side, once the date is picked for the event, we start our critical path (to-do list) and work our way through it. It’s important to ensure that any additional spaces required are booked, set up needs are requested, event partners/sponsors are connected with, communications go out to targeted groups in a timely manner to encourage ticket sales, in-game contest/promotions are planned in advance to ensure all materials are ready for game day”  Mackay said. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, additional staff are allocated for screening, sanitization and more. 

Mackay emphasized how she loves working at the Waterloo Athletic and Recreation department. “I had never really considered working in university athletics. After the first co-op term, I knew it was something I wanted to strive for. I love having the opportunity to interact with students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members,” she said. She also likes contributing to the benefit that the recreational department provides to students. “Taking a break from studying for our students is so important and I am happy to be able to be part of a great department that provides so many options.”

It is important to note that while the COVID-19 has impacted many varsity games in the past year,  varsity games will resume Saturday, Feb. 12th. The first varsity game of the season will be held at PAC where the Waterloo Warriors men’s and women’s volleyball teams will be competing against the University of Guelph. That same day the women’s hockey team against Laurier will be held at CIF. The full varsity games schedule can be viewed online

While a great deal of effort is required by all of the athletes who participate in these competitive sports, it is also nice to appreciate the amount of effort  put forth by the athletics department to plan these events. If you would like to get tickets to your favourite sports game and spread some Waterloo Warriors cheer, please visit the Waterloo Warriors website.