My alma mater uses the tagline, ‘Best College Town in the Pac-12‘, and who am I to disagree?

I loved my time at Oregon State. I couldn’t get enough of the lovely downtown area with local shops and fantastic restaurants for all sorts of college kid budgets. And that doesn’t even include the incredible spots to grab a bite to eat just off-campus or the semi-out-of-the-way food co-ops for locally farmed produce when you didn’t feel like going out to restaurants.

The true beauty of attending school in Corvallis extended beyond shops and restaurants, it was everything else; the walking/running trails, hikes, mountain biking, a relatively short drive to the coast and of course, I didn’t mind the student rates at the local golf course.

The reason I write about my college town and the experiences beyond campus is that following nearly 10 years as a sports information director, across four institutions and three states, I’ve learned how important it is to know where you are.

Take the opportunity to understand the town your institution is in — how far are you from the coast? The mountains? The big city? In addition to giving you the opportunity to explore and enjoy where you are, outside of your office, you are gaining valuable bits of information to share with recruits and their families.

I once heard a coach tell the parents of a recruit that their team sometimes likes to go get food and hang out at the local gas station. Now, that gas station may make one heck of a burger, but I’d venture a guess that a recruit and their guardians would be more excited by hearing about local hiking trails, a farmers market, movie theaters?

It is incredibly valuable to tap into your campus community and get information or recommendations from the student life office or the outdoor program (do you know if your school has an outdoor program? Might be worth checking on that).

And of course, as was mentioned in an earlier ARI blog, on the importance of tapping into your student-athletes to learn how they communicate and use technology — ask your student-athletes!

Your campus could be in a city, it could be in a small town or it could be in a rural area surrounded by cornfields, but I guarantee there are things your student-athletes love to do — you just have to ask.

What are your student-athletes favorite restaurants? What’s a good coffee shop for studying? Is it better to spend downtime at the local lake or the river?

You can Google and Yelp all you want, but tapping into your student-athletes and your campus community, as a whole, is more valuable than you could ever imagine.

And hey, you might find a new spot to sneak off to for a long lunch break.

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