A 57-year hiatus
Fall often means football sections for local newspapers, but for The West Volusia Beacon in DeLand, Fla., the 2013 season is "especially special," according to Publisher Barb Shepherd.
"Stetson University in DeLand abolished its football program after the 1956 season but is bringing it back this fall," Shepherd explains. "The entire town is excited."
Shepherd and her staff seized the opportunity to produce a 60-page special section, called "Halftime is Finally Over!" Prior to Stetson's first game on Aug. 31 with Warner University, 8,000 copies were inserted into The West Volusia Beacon.
An additional 4,000 copies of the tab-sized section were distributed free to game-day tailgaters in special areas set up for tailgating by Stetson University and the City of DeLand. At first, Shepherd and her staff were disappointed they could not give out copies at the stadium gates because Stetson would be selling copies of commemorative programs at the same time.
"This turned out even better," she says. "People were near their cars when they got our section. If they didn't want to carry it during the game, they were able to stash it in the car and look it over when they got home."
The section not only contained stories about the current coach and team but also an historical look at Stetson's previous teams dating back to 1894. DeLand native Jim Dreggors, who played in Stetson's final ballgame in 1956, also was featured. Advertisers included restaurants, medical professionals, churches and many other businesses.
"Everyone wanted in this," says Shepherd. "We've had a number of people coming to the office asking for copies."
A pdf copy of "Halftime is Finally Over!" is available at www.beacononlinenews.com/magazines/images/2013_special_pubs/08.2013_Stetson_football/08.2013_Stetson_football.pdf
Does your newspaper have a good idea for a special section? If so, send a brief description to Cindy Durham at email@example.com.
Mary Ann DeSantis is a freelance writer and former SNPA staff member. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.