Most college campuses are relatively quiet on Memorial Day weekend. Not so at Penn State’s University Park campus this year, which was packed with thousands of spectators and athletes for the annual Happy Volley volleyball championship. The tournament brings in more than 400 girls’ volleyball teams from throughout the East Coast (and other areas, too: One team hailed from Las Vegas) for three days of high-intensity matches, spread throughout several gyms on the Penn State campus.
Yes, the games were spirited. But promotional items of every kind also whipped up fans and players into a frenzy. Obviously, all of the girls and fans who participated arrived already fully deck out in logoed club gear from their teams – uniforms, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, backpacks, and even socks. But that didn’t quell the hunger for apparel sporting the Happy Volley and Penn State Volleyball logos.
Those who strolled down the campus’ Main Street saw dozens of stores displaying racks of logoed Penn State volleyball gear on the sidewalks, with salespeople outside handing discount coupons to all of the players walking by. And throughout the campus, mobile screen-printing and embroidery vans were set up, selling everything from tie-dyed Happy Volley logoed onesies to jerseys that could be embroidered with a player’s number.
Like the sidelines of the matches, these stores and pop-up shops were mobbed with fans, eager to get their hands on some cool gear to take home. After all, the collectibles will serve as a reminder for the girls that they’d played on the same volleyball courts as this year’s collegiate women’s volleyball national champs.
“Getting a T-shirt from this type of event is a pretty special thing for the players,” says Joel Kern, team parent for a member of the Princeton Volleyball Club. “A year or two from now, most of these girls won’t remember the scores of most of their games. But you can bet that they’ll still be wearing their T-shirts.”– ML