Varsity News Network Grows to 39 StatesBy Jane Whitttington on February 14th, 2016 /
In 2003, Ryan Vaughn, current CEO, and Matt Anderson, both sports buffs from T-ball through college, came up with an idea. They wanted to create a company that would compile information on high school athletics in one convenient place on the Web. They presented their idea at the precursor to Start Garden in Grand Rapids and were granted funding to go ahead with their concept. What started with Vaughn and Anderson is now a thriving business with close to 100 employees, 30 in their Grand Rapids headquarters and 66 sales agents throughout the United States.
According to Marketing Director Romy Glazer, “At the time the two of them started the company, they were both blogging about high school sports. But getting information about games, scores, schedules and players was difficult to come by. Varsity News Network (VNN) started out encouraging individual schools to contribute their own blogs to a website.”
She continues, “VNN evolved into a website which compiles information, which can include schedules, results, photos, articles, videos, forms, alerts, player information and anything else that the athletic directors at participating schools deem important and interesting to the school community, other schools, parents, athletes and the community at large.”
From a simple beginning, VNN has now grown to include 1,300 high schools in 39 states.
Glazer says, “Athletic directors know that they need a website, but they are busy people. VNN is a simple way to present a good-looking, comprehensive communication tool to the community. Since our sales reps are people either in or close to the communities where they sell the service, they understand the importance of local high schools and their athletic programs to the people in the district. Once a school signs up for the service, VNN also provides training and support.”
She continues, “Our staff works with athletic directors to sell ads on the site and a portion of that revenue is returned to the school. In two years, the site can pay for itself.”
VNN staff create a customized website for each school with individual banners, colors and logos. While the focus is on athletics, some schools have chosen to include the marching band and even school clubs. One school even has a journalism/writing class that prepares material to be added to the site. In addition, VNN can link the website to spirit shops where merchandise specific to the school can be purchased. Some schools are using VNN for fund-raising.”
Prior to the availability of VNN, information was scattered, inconsistent and often difficult to access. With VNN, information is compiled, is consistent with the school “brand” and is user-friendly. The information on VNN can automatically synch with social media including Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube.
Glazer says, “It’s a human desire to be a part of something bigger than the individual. In many communities, the high school is the center of the community’s identity. VNN can unite that community by sharing information relevant to all its citizens. It unites the teams, staff, players, parents and citizens and gives everyone a place to go to get the information they need.”
For more information about Varsity News Network, visit www.varsitynewsnetwork.com