Public schools don't provide funding, so Post 6, which is home to six teams of junior high and high school-aged players, has turned to an effective sponsorship program to give kids the opportunity to play at the high school level.
Cheyenne Post 6 sponsors are displayed on banners hanging from the outfield fence.
Sports are lauded for their ability to instill the characteristics of hard work, determination and perseverance into young people. Despite these benefits, the cost of involvement prohibits some kids from participating, especially as the prices increase with age.
Most high school sports in the United States are school sanctioned, helping to decrease the cost of participation. Wyoming, home of Cheyenne’s Post 6 baseball organization, is one of two states in the U.S. that doesn’t included baseball among its high school-sponsored sports.
Without funding from public schools, Post 6, which is home to six teams of junior high and high school-aged players, has turned to an effective sponsorship program to give kids the opportunity to play at the high school level.
“Sponsorships have always been important to our organization,” said Ward Anderson, who serves as treasurer and one of 12 members on the Post 6 board. “When you have a program that provides that type of opportunity for a multitude of kids, costs are a lot higher than most people understand as far as what it takes to keep the organization going.”
Those costs include rental for fields and indoor hitting facilities, transportation to out of town tournaments, hotel fees and uniform costs. That adds up to an operating budget that approaches $100,000 yearly – one-third of which is funded exclusively by Post 6’s sponsorship program.
The Sponsorship Program
In helping to fund the organization's operating budget, Post 6 board members devised a five-tier sponsorship program. The first four tiers are reserved for local businesses and are layered based on donation size. The fifth level is for friends and family donations. This season the Post 6 program has 66 sponsors recognized on its website.
Depending on sponsorship level, the Post 6 program then provides sponsors with benefits such as field banners, advertising space, website recognition, game passes and Post 6 gear.
“Most of our sponsors are local businesses within the Cheyenne area,” said Aaron Casey, a Post 6 board member who specializes in web design and social media. “The friends and family level largely consists of friends and relatives who may not get to games as much as they would like to and still want to help out. All of our sponsors get season passes, a Post 6 hat and a Post 6 jacket. It’s our way of saying thanks.”
Post 6 uses a community approach to land sponsors. Everyone from players, parents, grandparents and board members are involved in securing sponsors.
Even though the club’s season doesn’t start until mid-April to early May, players and parents take to the streets as early as September in search of sponsors.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a finely-tuned process, but there is an actual process in reviewing who has sponsored in the past, who has relationships with those sponsors and making sure we get back in front of those sponsors,” Anderson said. “If a player goes out and solicits a particular sponsor, that player gets a portion of credit towards their player fee. The sponsorships the board gathers help offset the costs for the entire organization.”
Outside of dollars raised for the Post 6 organization and its players, the sponsorship program has paid valuable dividends for both players and sponsoring organizations alike.
Through the distribution of season passes, several sponsors have members who routinely attend Post 6 games. Sponsors have even offered ideas for promotions, including one in which every foul ball turned in could be redeemed for a free small milkshake at a local restaurant.
The sponsorship program has created a valuable relationship between players and sponsoring organizations – none more important than the local American Legion.
“Every year we try to make sure the boys get out during Memorial Day Weekend and put flags up at cemeteries,” Casey said. “There’s also a few times a year where we try to get the boys over to the Legion hall to interact with the veterans there.”
Laramie County Chiropractic and Chick-fil-A are two of the Cheyenne Post 6 sponsors showcased with outfield banners.
Despite Post 6’s success with attracting sponsors, which has rendered their player fees as some of the lowest in the region, rising program costs have increased the need for contributions.
According to Anderson and Casey, the increased costs for fuel, hotel rooms and field fees have led to the organization looking at increasing player contribution fees. Since the board realizes this could create an increased burden on parents, it is considering instilling a more formalized sponsorship program.
“We are going to have to look at something,” Anderson said. “Either a more formalized process for players participating in getting sponsors, or a portion of the board going out and getting sponsorships just for the organization.”
Anderson keeps the pitch to sponsors simple.
“I think the biggest message is that we provide a high school-equivalent program without funding from the school district, and we provide life opportunities to a huge number of young men in our community that gain not just from playing baseball, but also from all of the interactions that they have,” Anderson said. “These lessons are a lot like life in general, and I think that’s the most important thing we provide outside of giving kids the opportunity to play baseball and hopefully take it on to the collegiate level.”