Colorado State volleyball honored as AVCA Grant Burger Media Award recipient

May 29, 2013

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — On the court, Colorado State volleyball is among the nation’s best, earning annual top-25 rankings and competing in 18 consecutive NCAA tournaments. The Rams are also leading the charge off the court, being selected as recipient of the 2012-13 AVCA Grant Burger Media Award.

The announcement was made Wednesday by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. CSU was originally nominated for its expanded social media efforts, including inside access to the program through daily updates and photos, promotional videos, and online contests. The honor recognizes those who have been involved in the advancement of the sport of volleyball.

“Today’s social media applications have changed the landscape for sports like volleyball,” said AVCA executive director Kathy DeBoer. “The innovative gang at Colorado State really understands the concepts involved in engaging their fans and have found ways to include them in matches and the volleyball program. Colorado State University is at the head of the pack and gives us a model well worth emulating.”

This is the first time a social media account has received the top honor, which began in 1997-98.

Head Coach Tom Hilbert, entering his 17th season this fall, is a strong proponent of the use of social media, understanding the impact it has on fan support.

“It gives us a connection with our fans and a daily window for them to look into our program,” Hilbert said. “People want to be able to open up their computer or turn on their phone and see what their friends are doing; CSU volleyball is one of their friends, and they want to know what we’re doing.”

The support is displayed online as well as at Moby Arena. CSU annually is ranked among the national leaders in attendance figures, and last year drew a crowd close to 6,000 for its match vs. UCLA; just two programs drew larger single-match crowds in 2012.

Examples of CSU volleyball’s presence on social media include releases, photos and press conference video. The program takes it a step further, adding trivia contests, behind-the-scenes images and Social Media Night, which took place during the Rams’ Nov. 8 match vs. UNLV and included several perks, culminating with a trip for two to watch the Rams play in Boise, Idaho. Additionally, CSU first released its 2013 schedule to its Twitter followers, and fans got an inside look to the 2012 Final Four in Louisville, Ky., as the All-America banquet, youth clinics, autograph sessions and national championship match were all documented through photo galleries and video.

“What this award shows is that CSU volleyball is on the cutting edge of what people are doing for the sport of volleyball,” Hilbert said. “There’s a respect for the sport here, which means we get full commitment from the department as a whole.”

The award is named in honor of Grant Burger—former director of sports information and associate director of the AVCA from 1988-92—whose hard work, innovative mind, knowledge and enthusiasm took the areas of media relations and publications at the AVCA to a higher level and increased awareness of the sport of volleyball nationwide. Past winners of the award include BYU TV, The Net Live, MaxPreps and Rich Kern, among others.

The AVCA expanded the media award’s scope this year by having a finalist in six different categories, in addition to the overall winner: broadcast (University of Central Missouri Athletics Broadcasting), print (Kevin Lonnquist of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram), Web (USA Volleyball’s Bill Kauffman) , sports information/athletic communications (Pepperdine’s Dena Meiste), college student reporter (CJ Allard of WCRD/Ball State) and social media (Vinnie Lopes of Off the Block).