It’s been more than five years since we last sat down to talk with Trinity-Pawling about their school’s incredibly popular athletics page. And we shouldn’t have to tell you that five years is a long time, especially in the web design, trends, and technology fields.
I sat down with Emma Christiantelli, Trinity-Pawling’s Website Manager/Digital Marketing Specialist, to discuss how the all-boys New York prep school has built and maintained a competitive edge with Athletics Manger, as well what adjustments the school has made in the five plus years since we last discussed their athletics page.
Transitioning from Microsite to Webpage
In the year’s past, Trinity-Pawling constructed a dedicated microsite for their athletics page, “T-P Pride,” as the school affectionately named the microsite. The microsite featured several drastic design and structure differences from the school’s main website, most notably the custom banners across each of the microsite’s pages.
When we last spoke with Trinity-Pawling, Chris Gillman, Dean of the Senior Class, English Teacher, and Varsity Coach, said the microsite "helps to give [their athletics page] more of a college athletics page look and feel," making them look more professional and desirable, naturally leading to more views that transform into more school applications.
Christiantelli said the decision to go the route of the microsite in the past was due to design limitations within Page Manager. At the time, the microsite gave Trinity-Pawling greater flexibility in terms of design, displayed all the necessary information, and provided a best-in-class user experience while still harkening back to the main website.
When the school moved to Composer, Finalsite’s Content Management System (CMS), and launched their new website in January 2019, many doors opened.
“It was our chance to make everything cohesive again and pull athletics back into the main site (without having it become a microsite) while also giving [the athletics page] individualized features to set it apart and make it more compelling and exciting,” Christiantelli said.
She added that the school used the upgrade to Composer as an opportunity to review the entirety of their website, every individual page, to see what improvements would be possible with Composer’s numerous new features, options, and tools.
Christiantelli said she took a special liking to Athletics Manager.
“Athletics Manager is so robust and has a lot of features that make it easy for website managers and coaches to keep things updated. At the same time, Composer allows the pages to look dynamic and pulls the user in to enjoy the experience while they get the information they need,” she said.
In short, Composer allowed the athletics page expanded upon what the older microsite could do while merging it with the main website for a more cohesive user experience.
Learn how your school can use Athletics Manager to build best-in-class athletics pages!
Athletics Manager as a “One-Stop Shop”
Finalsite’s suite of communication modules were designed to be simple and intuitive to use from the most experienced webmasters to those stepping into the web design and maintenance shoes for the first time.
That, of course, extends to Athletics Manager, which provides webmasters and coaches alike an easy way to update, schedule, cancel or postpone games; manage teams; and post rosters and coach profiles — all from their offices or on the go from their phones.
Christiantelli said she loved how Athletics Manager was a “one-stop shop” when she was building the athletics pages on the school’s new Composer website.
“It was so nice to be able to drop in the module elements and know that the content would be dynamic, and, as long as it’s updated in Athletics Manager, it would be reflected on any of the pages,” she said. “It really made my life easier as a website manager, knowing that if it’s updated in one spot, it’s updated across the board.”
But even as the school’s Website Manager, Christiantelli isn’t the only one making additions and changes to the athletics page. Each school, Trinity-Pawling included, has a handful of coaches who input all the schedule changes, post-game scores, and roster updates.
Christiantelli said Athletics Manager’s ease of use and simplicity makes it simple for the school’s coaches to login from their phone on the sideline or on the bus back home to make all the necessary updates. As any coach can tell you, parents who can’t attend the game want the scores as soon as possible, and they aren’t shy about asking where the information is whenever it’s late.
“I also really love the roster system that connects to our Constituent Manager,” Christiantelli added.
She said Trinity-Pawling’s athletics pages and teams are so popular with the school’s alumni that one of her goals during the redesign process with Composer was to make it as easy as possible to see who is playing on each team, and when.
“It’s so nice that I can just log into Athletics Manager, add in the players, opponents, scores, etc., and it dynamically displays under the correct team,” Christiantelli said. “It’s efficient, and it saves a lot of time.”
Fitting Athletics Into the Overall Design
Like so many other schools across the nation, the athletics page tends to be one of the most-visited pages on the school’s website, and oftentimes is the most visited. Trinity-Pawling, a school with a legacy of athletic excellence, is no exception.
Christiantelli explained that an enormous and very enthusiastic alumni group helps keep their athletics page at the top of the leaderboard. They maintain a daily connection to the page to see all the latest updates and scores, current and future schedules, as well as tuning in to watch live games thanks to the school’s use of Playsight livestream video feeds.
When the school upgraded from Page Manager to Composer, Christiantelli said the school made sure to keep the feel “sharp, clean, and organized” since the old website was not as user-friendly and a little tricky to navigate for some, and content oftentimes got buried.
The new website was launched with the mindset of being “as streamlined and modern as possible,” she said. It was important that all information, not just athletics information, be as easy to find and presented as clearly as possible across all pages of the new website with a sleek, modern aesthetic.
Of course, a fellow staff member who also just so happens to be an incredible photographer with an eye for amazing photos doesn’t hurt either. Christiantelli said the incredible photos their photographer captured inspired her to make liberal use of the photos in as many places as possible, such as using them for buttons on the “Teams” page. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that page reads like a magnum opus.
“It makes the page a little more exciting to look at, especially for prospective students,” she added. “It makes the overall feel of the school more real to them.”
Five Ways to Build a Better Athletics Page
Impressed by how Trinity-Pawling improved their older, already impressive athletics microsite when bringing the page back into the main website, we asked Christiantelli what were the five biggest differentiators that helped Trinity-Pawling’s athletics page stand out from the crowd. She pointed out:
Photos and Videos
Student and Coach Testimonials
Robust Athlete Rosters
Dynamic and Exciting Content Spotlights
Photos and Videos
Christiantelli said liberal use of amazing photography and videos not only helps each page stand out in terms of pure aesthetics, but it also helps create a more compelling page in terms of admissions.
Prospective students are more likely to be impressed by a school’s athletics program when they can interact with videos of highlights from past football games, flip through a photo album of the most recent golf match, or look at pictures for each coach.
Enthrall your visitors with stunning photos and videos so every second spent on your website is another second spent building their desire to apply.
Student and Coach Testimonials
Christiantelli said Trinity-Pawling believes testimonials are “the strongest way of showing prospective families the value of a Trinity-Pawling education.” Prospective students and families are more likely to be swayed into applying when they can hear from other students who enthusiastically recommend the school, the athletics program, or (ideally) both.
“It’s not just playing on the team, it’s becoming that well-rounded student,” Christiantelli said.
Hearing from the coaches as well, seeing that they are just as enthusiastic about the athletics program as they student athletes they mentor, can also help inspire confidence in parents if they know that their children will be in capable, caring hands.
Christiantelli said Trinity-Pawling was the first school to adopt the Playsight video streaming technology back when the school added the cameras to their many athletics fields and courts in 2017. The New York prep school is no longer the only school in the nation with the advanced video streaming technology, but it continues to be a great way for alumni, families and fans to stay connected and involved in the athletics program from all around the world.
Current student athletes can also use Playsight to download clips and build their highlight videos they send to college when applying for school.
Robust Athlete Rosters
Christiantelli said she did a lot of research when designing and building the new athletics page to get a better feel for how families were using the page. She said families wanted to be able to quickly visit the website and look up a student athlete they saw on the field with no other information than the student’s jersey number, especially when it comes to varsity sports.
Parents, visiting teams, and college scouts would all use that ability, she said.
On each team’s page, Christiantelli added a roster under the “Meet The Players” tab where anyone can see the player’s number, their name, position, class, and hometown. The information displayed in the roster format helps create a more professional feeling, replicating the type of roster one might expect to find when going to a MLB or NBA game.
Dynamic and Exciting Content Spotlights
Christiantelli was able to build the “Teams” page in a layout organized by season, keeping the page sleek and simple, while also spotlighting the students and all of their hard work on the field or court. Compared to another page with just text or plain buttons, Trinity-Pawling’s “Teams” page is a standout success that looks as exciting as each sport represented on the page.
“If you read ‘Varsity Baseball,’ as a clickable title, that’s one thing; but if you see a photo of a varsity baseball player at bat and you can click on it, that brings the user in a little more,” she said.
Trinity-Pawling had a difficult task ahead of them when redesigning their athletics page. Topping their old athletics microsite would be no easy feat. However, using the flexibility of Composer and power of Athletics Manager, Christiantelli and the school were able to design and create simple, intuitive, and modern athletics pages within their main website that exceeded even our own expectations for what an athletics page could be.
Christiantelli said Trinity-Pawling’s main goal was admissions driven, but considering the athletics pages are one of Trinity-Pawling’s most-visited pages, she built the page to be accessible with all the information current students, their families, and Trinity-Pawling’s large network of alumni could ever need or want to find.
“I hope that it’s a great experience for the users and that they find what they’re looking for easily,” Christiantelli said. “I hope they enjoy seeing the photos, videos, and livestreams of the boys and feel like they’re part of The Pride even if they’re physically not on campus with us.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism degree from the University of South Carolina. He has an incredible passion for movies, television, reading, and writing fantasy and science-fiction.