Supporters group got a rebrand for the 2018-19 season
Concordia’s athletics director, D’Arcy Ryan, can be found at most Stingers’s sports games. He’s usually supporting the university’s teams, even on weekends. This year he wants to see an energetic crowd at the sports games.
“We want to be as competitive as possible,” Ryan said. “I want other [teams] to not want to come play here.”
The athletics director wants to see opposing teams face an intimidating atmosphere, and he might just get it this year. The Concordia Swarm, an old supporters group of the Concordia Stingers, is getting a revival this year after two years away.
This year, the Swarm went through a rebirth, and Ryan said that was thanks to Kathleen DiCaprio, the Stingers’s marketing manager. DiCaprio is a Concordia graduate, and she said that while she was a student, she didn’t know when Stingers games were, but would have attended them if she did. When she was hired by the Stingers in April 2018, she wanted to make sure other students knew about the sports teams.
“My main goal is to get more students aware,” DiCaprio said. “It’s not necessarily to get more ticket sales or more money, it’s just to show [students] what Concordia has to offer.”
DiCaprio wanted to bring the Swarm back to increase students’ awareness of the sports teams, so she hired students to help her. “At the end of the day, students listen to students. They don’t listen to deans or the higher people in the university; they want to hear stuff from students.”
Men’s soccer goalie Karl Gouabé, who is taking care of marketing and partnerships, was one of the students hired.
“When I joined [the Swarm], the challenge was to make the distinction between the Stingers and the Swarm,” Gouabé said. Before the rebranding, the Swarm used the same logo as the Stingers, and often students thought they were part of the Stingers.
“When [the Swarm] used to show up at Frosh, for example, they got a lot of questions asking if they did try-outs for the Stingers,” Gouabé added. “That’s the biggest purpose of the whole rebranding.”
So the Swarm came out with a new logo and a new motto in August. Their old slogan, “Fear the Swarm,” was replaced with “Born to Bee.” Gouabé said the new identity is to distinguish the Swarm from the Stingers brand. The Swarm is associated with the Stingers, but not directly part of their team.
“On our social media, we’re making sure people know we’re the official page of the supporters group,” Gouabé said. “So my job in there is to make that distinction as clear as possible.”
The third-year soccer goalie said Facebook and Instagram are the biggest tools to promote their group.
“The Facebook and Instagram business pages are very great to reach out to very specific target audiences, like reaching out to specifically Concordia students,” Gouabé said. “I don’t see myself going out there and collecting emails. It’s really weird asking a student for their email so I could tell them to come to games.”
Gouabé said he’s already researched what audiences he needs to target, and the next step in promoting the Swarm is to pay for promotion on social media. He said the Instagram page has gotten over 200 new followers since they started last month, but paid promotion will help them gain followers.
The Swarm will be at four games this fall season, including the football home opener on Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. at the Concordia Stadium. For the pregame party, there will be a barbecue, face painting, an inflatable house, beer, and food trucks.
“We’re going to have Swarm gear, and we have flags, banners, chants” Gouabé said. “We’re going to be trash-talking the other team, but keep it G-rated.”
Gouabé said the Swarm will also be at the baseball home opener on Sept. 11, the football homecoming game on Sept. 22, and the Erica Cadieux Memorial game. The Erica Cadieux game is an annual women’s soccer game during which the Stingers accept toys to donate to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The group will add more games as the season goes on.
“Our goal for this year is to fill these stands as much as possible, even with the soccer games,” Gouabé said.
DiCaprio said she would like more students to come out and watch Stingers games too.
“I saw the numbers from last year, and at some of our football games, less than 10 per cent of students were there,” DiCaprio said. “It’s a student university game, how is this even possible? My goal is to increase that number significantly so we could get more students at the games and have more fun events.”
While Stingers crowds may be tough against opponents, like Ryan wanted, the director also believes the Swarm will do more than just intimidate the other teams.
“The Concordia Swarm will tie in the Concordia community and students who like sports,” Ryan said. “It’s a great way to unite first-year students too.”
Main photo by Alex Hutchins.