GVSU to hold family weekend virtually, hopes for sellout

NCAA Football

Posted: Sep 15, 2020 / 08:00 AM EDT Updated: Sep 15, 2020 / 08:01 AM EDT

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — In a year where so much has changed, leaders at Grand Valley State University hope one thing stays the same. They want you to join them for family weekend — virtually. 

It’s something the university has never done, but they say it’s worth your time and money. 

GVSU is pushing their alumni and fan base for a sellout. If they can pull it off, it’ll be the twelfth season in a row selling out family weekend. 

Head coach Matt Mitchell says it would be an incredible accomplishment for the university to continue the sellout streak despite the pandemic. 

“It would separate us from everyone is else in D-2. I haven’t heard of anyone else doing this, besides the few D-2 school actually playing, we’re not of course for health and safety reasons, but to be able to do this virtually and sell it out. I would tell you I think that would be an awesome indication of where Grand Valley is at on the national landscape,” Mitchell said. “Even though we’re not playing games, the program is still very relevant and obviously the goal we’re trying to get engagement.” 

GVSU is part of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which has cancelled their 2020 football season. The attention has now focused to the spring and fall of 2021. It’s something Mitchell says they’ll be able to showcase to fans on family weekend. 

“It’ll be as close to a gameday feel as you can possibly get without 11 on 11 completion down on the field. There will be a performance from the band, there will be interviews with coaches and players, even alumni,” Mitchell said. “There’s definitely some challenges, disappointing because we spent a lot of work trying to get ready for the season. That’s gone, but I think we’re trying to be optimistic and look at these as opportunities.”

Some of the opportunities present themselves to Mitchell in off the field situations that he believes may not have been viable during a normal season. 

“We probably wouldn’t have the time to get into everything we are now. We’re talking about equality, race relations, good police practices. We’re doing a lot of those things that we may not have had the opportunity the schedule previously,” Mitchell said. “Obviously, we’re doing a lot of strength and conditioning but we’re doing even more player development.”

Without fans in the stands this fall, the university says they’re losing money which would typically boost their general athletic fund. Tickets for the virtual family weekend start at $10 and go up to $15. Once again, fans will not be allowed into the stadium, the ticket price should be viewed as a donation. 

“The Lakers’ social media accounts will be providing free interactive giveaways, prizes and virtual interactions with fans all throughout the day, culminating in a live virtual football game, streaming free-of-charge on the Grand Valley Sports Network,” the university said in a release. “The show will ‘kick-off’ at 4 p.m. and have all the sights and sounds of a typical home game; including a performance from the Laker Marching Band and dance team, live interviews with coaches and players and messages from Laker alums.”