Last season, the University of Maine women’s basketball team made a big impact on the court, but this year the team has received recognition for their role outside of the game. Bangor Savings Bank announced earlier this month that it has signed a three-year title sponsorship with the women’s basketball team, extending a hand of community partnership to help inspire youth across Maine to get involved with athletics.
For Bangor Savings Bank, the decision to partner up with the highly successful women’s basketball program was an easy one to make. With similar values and goals from each side, the partnership was a perfect opportunity.
“The Bangor Savings Bank has been a long time supporter of all UMaine athletics,” Stacey Haskell, vice president of marketing and community relations at Bangor Savings Bank, said. “When we were presented with the women’s basketball program, it felt like it was a good fit for the bank and our commitment in developing young leaders, especially women.”
The sponsorship has simple, yet fundamental goals in mind — to build young leaders with athletes while also helping to give back to the community by promoting youth participation in athletics throughout the state of Maine.
“Giving back to Maine’s communities is an essential part of who we are and this is just another way of reinforcing our commitment to Maine and the University,” Haskell said.
To help strengthen the community, the sponsorship will host special events such as free youth clinics that will be directed by students in the women’s basketball program and the “Bangor Savings Bank Ball Kids Program” which will offer free t-shirts to girls who serve as ball girls at any of the women’s basketball games. In addition, the bank will provide game tickets to certain local nonprofit organizations, helping youth attend their games.
“[We want] to be able to reach youth in the Bangor community, with our women’s basketball team, to serve as teachers and role models and give those young girls and boys somebody to look up to, somebody they’d want to be like and pursue an education in college and maybe pursue sports,” University of Maine Athletic Director Karlton Creech said.
Though the specific contract details are private, the bank will be making a significant financial commitment to the team, while also donating to the program in the form of a season-long scoring challenge, giving the program two dollars for every point they score this season. Aside from that, the agreement is very typical for an athletic partnership.
“It’s a pretty standard sponsorship deal so it will include advertising elements, it will include event elements like we saw with the youth clinic, it will include radio advertising and game advertising,” Creech said.
For a long time, the bank expressed interest in a possible partnership with the program, but it took some time for the exact details and agreements to become a reality. In addition, Head Coach Richard Barron’s role in rebuilding the program back to greatness helped make the partnership more desirable.
“It doesn’t happen quickly, typically deals of this nature and magnitude are multi-year processes,” Creech said.
The team has become quiet heroes off the court, with much of their impact on the community going unnoticed. With this sponsorship, the team finally gets the recognition it has long deserved.
“Well it means that people are going to see the work that we’re doing, especially the hard work the staff and the kids are doing on a daily basis,” Barron said. “We’re very grateful that people are noticing that, it certainly is gratifying to have people say that what you’re doing is important and that they want to be a part of it.”
Though, at the end of the day, the most significant aspect of this partnership is the importance of it. This is a way for the community to come together and for kids to find role models while pursuing their dreams, and in that sense, everyone comes out a winner. The partnership has a chance to make a resonating impact in our state, and the women’s basketball program was the perfect fit for the opportunity.
“In my mind, there are no better representatives of a student athlete at the University of Maine then our women’s basketball team, our players there. When you watch them interact with young girls and boys at a youth clinic, you can tell they genuinely enjoy doing it, and they find value in it. We know the girls and boys find value in interacting with our student athletes. We want that connection,” Creech said.
At the same time, the difference in this deal is that it is the first of its kind. Maine athletics have received sponsorships in the past, but not for one individual program before.
“This is the first sponsorship we’ve had that’s been a direct sponsorship of a specific team, with some specific goals in mind,” Creech said.
Not only will this agreement benefit the youth in Maine for the next three years, but it also has the potential to open the door to additional sponsorships within the other athletic programs at Maine in the near future, which in turn could benefit the community in other ways.
“I see it as a template we can use for any of our programs moving forward as long as we find a sponsor that has the same values and wants to align with one of our programs,” Creech said. “I hope that it leads to more relationships of this kind with our other sports programs.”