At a UMass Lowell hockey game last winter, Mary Jane Mastrovich, assistant to the athletics director, had a brainstorm--If the Lock Monsters have their own domain name, why can't the River Hawks?
The brainstorm resulted in not only a new domain name, GoRiverHawks.com, but a complete redesign of the Athletics site.
Mastrovich went home and did a search on her computer for River Hawks and came up with a semi-professional soccer team in Ohio. The domain search engine came up with other suggestions, one of them GoRiverHawks.com. Mastrovich snatched it up paying the $35 annual fee on her debit card.
The next day, she told Athletic Director Dana Skinner and Assistant Director Ed Stoner what she had done. They said "Go for it", Mastrovich recalls.
Calling on the talents of University Web Designer Gerry Nelson, the Athletics department had a clear goal in mind -- to create a site that is easy to navigate and still include a ton of information. Part of the challenge in developing the new site was to make it usable for all the different audiences (parents, students, alumni, and die-hard fans) and serve a number of functions (Youngstars, rec sports, Lowell Club, and varsity sports). The redesign makes it easier to navigate the site and find information that was not easily accessible before.
"We wanted a more modern, up-to-date, cleaner look," said Mastrovich.
The new site features a bold front page with the image of an athlete that changes each time you visit the site; a pull down menu that allows you to quickly jump to each varsity sport; thumbnails of each facility that give more details when you click on them; and a River Hawks news scroll bar that lists up-to-the-minute news and information including game scores. There are also links for ticket information, merchandise, rec sports, the Lowell Club, and Youngstars. The sport pages include game schedules, information on the coaches, and profiles of the athletes. Information about special events, such as the annual golf tournament, is available on the site.
"We didn't want it to look like the old site or like any other sites," said Mastrovich. "We wanted to put things in that people wanted and that will keep them coming back."
Many other schools have outside contractors design and maintain their athletics sites. The GoRiverHawks site will be maintained by the Athletics Department. Mastrovich, who is enrolled in Division of Continuing Studies and Corporate Education web design courses, hopes to incorporate what she learns in class into the redesigned site.
The site went "live" in July. Athletics plans to continue to change the site and add new features such as a live action camera, audio clips, and films clips. Until then, games can be heard live on WJUL by linking from the GoRiverhawks site.
"It's a work in progress," said Mastrovich. "That's what a good site is."
Visit the website www.goriverhawks.com!
Contact: Elaine Hays Keough, firstname.lastname@example.org