Utah Utes gymnastics: Greg Marsden embraces social media as recruiting tool
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — If you can't find Utah gymnastics co-head coach Greg Marsden at the gym, chances are he's at his computer playing on Facebook, or maybe he's tweeting. Regardless of which social media program it is, the coach has become a guru at marketing his team. His efforts have boosted an already highly successful program, which owns every gymnastics attendance record and is leading the country again in fans this season, to a new level outside of the Huntsman Center.
"At times Salt Lake can be a difficult place to recruit to. We are geographically isolated and many people have never been here. I have constantly been looking for ways to expose our team, the university, the city and for ways to tell our story," said Marsden.
"I'm telling who we are and what it's really like here, and to dispel some of the myths, if you will, of Utah. I just found a good way to do that is through the Internet. It's given me a voice and way to communicate how I love this place."
Marsden has developed an active Facebook page that has over 6,600 likes.
He's an avid tweeter, as noted by senior Kyndal Robarts who laughed that a tweet she read by her coach the other day was time-stamped 2 a.m. His other passion is editing video from his gymnasts' performances and practices to share on their YouTube channel.
"We have been way ahead of the game with streaming our meets," said Marsden. "We were doing this two or three years before anyone else to help fans stay involved."
Ahead of the game period is what Utah associate athletics director Liz Abel, who's been at the U. for most of Marsden's run, said about the coach.
"From the early years when Greg was out in the schools to attending community events to Facebook, he's always been on the cutting edge with marketing the program," said Abel.
Marsden's made the U.'s gymnastics Facebook page a sounding board for fans, who have commented on everything from media coverage to judge's scores to funny things that happened during practice. Early in the season, he posted videos of the Red Rocks' beam routines, and asked fans to help him and Megan Marsden set the lineup.
"If there is anybody more old-fashioned and not a part of that it's me," said co-head coach Megan Marsden, "But I'm very thankful, even though at times it drives me crazy, for what he has done with the computer. We would not continue to be as successful as we are recruiting, as successful period if not for him stepping it up in that regard. We have a lot of girls across the country and world thinking it would be cool to be a Ute and a gymnast on our team."
Abel noted that Greg Marsden has become so enthralled with the computer that his interactions with fans have become primarily via the Internet. But she also credited him for having great help in Megan Marsden and Tom Farden to counter the computer time with face time.
Senior Stephanie McAllister, whose major is communication, called Greg Marsden a leader when it comes to marketing and social media. She acknowledged his efforts for giving her family, friends and fans in general a way to follow the Red Rocks even if they are back in Indiana or anywhere else.
Utah's Director of New Media Mike Gillilan, who has worked with Marsden for the past 11 years, said what's fun about the coach is that he's both creative and competitive.
"There have been several times he's made it a point to show me how many likes he has," laughed Gillilan. "It's really a neat thing to have a coach who gets social media and can push us to do things that will benefit other coaches and the department."
As for the future, Marsden laughed when asked if he's started pinning on Pinterest, and admitted he hasn't tackled this program yet. Marsden and the Utes are on the road against Florida this Friday.
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