Next season should be less blue for 'Cats

07/03/03 Jeff Gregory

The season is finally over and that is good news for the BlueCats.  They now have an opportunity to start with a level playing field for the 2004 campaign.  The season ended with disappointment but also hope. There are important deeds that lay ahead this off-season when considering team improvement and fan support for next year.

The ‘Cats finally ended their winless string of games in their inaugural season.   This came last week with their last home game of the season against the Oklahoma Crude.  Evansville drew over 3,000 fans for that game – not bad for a 0-12 team.  The final game could have built the momentum for next year more effectively but Evansville fell to Houma in the season finally 55-6 in Louisiana.  The statistics of the game were a lot closer than the score, but the loss could be partly attributed to an emotional comedown after last week’s victory.

Another item worth mentioning from this year is the stellar play that the ‘Cats received from Dale Jennings.  Jennings succeeded in every situation he was put in as the roster was shuffled week to week.  He excelled at running back, receiver, as well as defensive back.  His hard work, dedication, and success earned respect from everyone - especially his teammates.  They rightfully selected him as the team’s Most Valuable Player for the BlueCats first season.

One of the most challenging tasks that lay ahead for the team next year is to attract fan support.  Frankly, only a die-hard fan will be eager to buy season tickets for team that has a losing reputation.  The number one piece of advice is to build a winner.  Coach Avery Atadero has already made a point this season that the off-season will be busy doing just that, “We’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s all on our shoulders.”  The number one priority, according to Coach Atadero, is to get bigger, stronger, and faster on the line.  That means improving on both sides of the ball. 

Coach Atadero has proven in the past that he is intelligent and capable.  Because of this, personnel advice from fans should be kept to a minimum.  The only point that should be considered is that local players bring out local fans.  There is still hope in Evansville that the rift between the organization and hometown favorite Levron Williams can be mended. 

To get fans interested in the 2004 BlueCats, the organization should consider the following points:

  1. Issue frequent press releases.  The fans will forget about the team as the NFL and college basketball seasons heats up.  Don’t let them.
  1. Try to get an official booster club organized.  Fans like to feel like they are involved.  For a nominal fee, a fan should be able to get a club shirt, a periodic newsletter, and other perks.
  1. Be visual, even in the off-season.  Work with a radio station at the upcoming West Side Nut Club Fall Festival and meet the fans and give them something that will remind them of the team and the NIFL.  A magnet with the team’s schedule is one suggestion.  Have players there with their jerseys and the cheerleaders present.
  1. When having a function like post game celebrations at restaurants or a live radio show like the Blitz at Nick’s, make a point to circulate and talk to customers that are there.  Fans want to feel wanted and welcomed.
  1. Continue to do community work with nonprofit agencies in the off-season.  Showing the community that the team cares, keeps them positively in the public eye.

After having one season under the belt, BlueCat fans can look forward to improvement for next year.  Everyone is aware of how the Ohio Valley Greyhounds organization had a humble beginning.  With fan functions and off-season personnel work, the city of Evansville can be convinced that great things are on the way for the pocket city.

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