Purple Mafia Profile, Road Trip Edition: Gia DiGiacobbe

Many of you have inquired about potential 2013 road trips. Heck, I dedicated an entire post around my decision-making process. Well, today we have the vice president of the NU Alumni Club of Chicago, Gia DiGiacobbe, who is a diehard ‘Cats fan and is very much aligned in the LTP mission of packing Ryan Field purple. Gia also has expanded to getting behind road trips for ‘Cats football games and today we explore how she has and is planning to ramp up efforts to pack Ryan Field as well as rally folks to head on the road to support NU.  As Gia will point out, the NUCC is often confused with the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA).  The NAA is afforded to every graduate and undergraduate, while the NUCC is a membership driven entity that hosts events, networking opportunities and the like. Let’s dive in….

LTP: Gia, give us a brief recap of last year’s road trip(s) and how it went from your perspective.

Gia: The NUCC has been hosting bus trips to home games for the past 4 years and in 2012 we chose the Nebraska and Iowa games. We have a similar mission to LTP in that we want to get as much purple to Ryan Field as possible, and we recognize that some people may choose to only attend 1-2 games per year, so we give them a convenient and inexpensive option for some of the popular games. The target audience is people who aren’t yet season ticket holders and those who want more convenient transportation to the games. The events include roundtrip bus transportation from Kendall’s Pub (2263 N Lincoln), a game ticket, 1 hour of free beer at the bar, a keg on the bus (built in tailgate!), and light appetizers. We took about 80 people to the Nebraska game and about 40 to the Iowa game.

For the first time ever last year, we also hosted an away game bus trip to the Michigan game, which was, by all accounts except the final score, wildly successful. The bus picked up first at Ryan field for people who wanted to leave their vehicles then at Union Station. Because it was an early game and a long drive, the day started around 3:30am in Evanston, but everyone made the bus on time! One of my colleagues made a trip to Costco to ensure that the bus was fully stocked with snacks, beer, and drinks and mixers. We also worked with a small group of Kellogg students and the NUMBAlums who were making the trip from Chicago.

LTP: As you look at the 2013 season, both from the anticipation of success and the juicy road opponents, what types of things do you have in mind?

Gia: We have a TON going on between now and a possible B1G Championship Game. Over the summer, we have a couple excellent events with football twist. They are:

Ethics in College Sports Panel Discussion and Networking Event
Tuesday, June 18, 6-8:30pm

As we all know, Northwestern is committed to doing it the “right way,” but it seems like there’s always a new scandal in the news, so we’ll be talking about what’s right and wrong with college athletics and address some of the specific cases that I’m sure you’re all curious about.
Panelists include D’Wayne Bates (Lasalle-Peru HS AD), Pat Goss (NU golf coach),Chad Hawley (B1G compliance), Doug Bakker (NU assistant dean, specializes in applied ethics), Conrad Novack (DePaul compliance) with host, Dave Eanet, the voice of the ‘Cats.

An Evening with Senator Napoleon Harris, Communication, 2002
Thursday, July 18, 6-8:30pm

You may know Napoleon Harris as a Northwestern football standout who also played seven years in the NFL. But do you know his true boot straps story of how a Northwestern football scholarship changed the course of his life and how he went from football player to 2013 freshman Illinois State Senator? Come to this event to hear his story and network with fellow alumni by registering HERE. 
During the football season, we are continuing our tradition of offering bus trips to the most sought after games and you could probably guess which ones we chose. You are hearing it here first because we have not yet publicized these events, so grab up tickets soon, as we know these will all sell out once we start advertising!
Home game bus trips include game ticket, roundtrip bus transportation from Kendall’s, an hour of free beer at the bar, a keg on the bus, and light appetizers. Buses leave no later than an hour and a half before game time, but if folks want to tailgate, we are expecting two buses for both home games and will run a bus 2.5-3 hours before the game, if there is enough interest.

Northwestern vs. Ohio State, homecoming night game
October 5, 2013
Northwestern vs. Michigan, game time tbd, but this game could help decide the division
November 16, 2013

This year’s away game will include roundtrip bus transportation from Union Station and Ryan Field, game ticket in the Northwestern section, breakfast, snacks, beer, drinks and mixers, and a possible tailgate, depending on the time of the game.

LTP: OK, Gia. This is a great start. What about the road trip for 2013?

Gia: I’m glad you asked! Camp Randall, here we come!

Northwestern at Wisconsin
October 12, 2013
I’m also personally planning to attend the Cal game and have a group of friends who is interested in an outing to the French Laundry and a Napa Valley bus tour, so if you’re interested in either of those options, feel free to reach out to me directly at gdigiacobbe@gmail.com.

LTP: What are the biggest unanswered questions you have as it relates to fan’s interest in attending road games this year? How can the LTP community help?

Gia: With the bus trips, in general, we are interested in knowing whether there is enough interest in overnight trips, knowing that a hotel would be an added fixed cost (for example, the only way we could ever host an away trip to Nebraska would be overnight and would probably require committing a year in advance, given now hotels in Lincoln book up).

It would also be helpful to know whether there is sufficient demand for more than one game per year (depending on the selection available, of course). This year both Illinois and Iowa are also attractive options, but we ultimately chose Wisconsin based on the overall availability of tickets in that stadium, a name opponent, and an interesting match-up. Because we have to pre-purchase tickets and the bus is a fixed cost, we have to know that we have around 50 people committed to attending in order to make the event financially viable (the $25 dues don’t cover big financial losses if we were not able to sell an event like this out!).
For the home game bus trips, we mostly stick with games that we know tickets will be more expensive on the secondary market. We do get a discount for certain games, but for less popular match-ups, you still might be able to buy tickets cheaper elsewhere than through us. We would be open to considering a bus for folks who already have season tickets if we knew there were enough people who would enjoy this option (about 40 people). Bus and beer with no game ticket would cost around $15, which isn’t all that much more expensive than taking the el to the game and much more convenient.

LTP: What’s your goal for the NU Club of Chicago and NU football this year?

Gia: Same as every year, we want to get as many Northwestern fans as possible to the games and eliminate excuses for why people can’t come (it’s inconvenient to get to, I can’t tailgate/drink if I drive to the game). I would love to be able to grow this program to include every home game and more than one away game, so that everyone just knows that we’re the go-to source for this kind of event, but I’m still not convinced I could fill a bus for the likes of Maine, no matter how cheap I could get game tickets for (which would probably still be around $20).
We also continue to host away game watch parties at Kendall’s and Blackfinn and would definitely support LTP’s efforts to expand that to include other suburbs.

LTP: OK, help us set the record straight on  the NU Alumni Club of Chicago, your role and why members should join:

Gia: The NU Alumni Club of Chicago (NUCC) is a completely volunteer run organization for alumni in the Chicagoland area. People often get confused between these local clubs that exist in many cities around the world and the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA). You’re a member of the NAA the day you matriculate at Northwestern; you can also join your local club in order to stay better connected to alumni in your area. Some of the benefits include networking, access to members-only events that often include special NU-related perks that you couldn’t get without a group (talk-backs with actors or producers from the show, coaches, athletes, or chefs; behind the scenes access, for example at Northwestern Memorial Hospital or Northwestern Athletics facilities; group discounts; or special educational and networking events).

The NUCC’s membership fee is $25 per year, with discounts for 2 and 3 year memberships. Most other local clubs have similar fees and many, especially in cities with a smaller NU presence, are free. This amount is less than many other universities’ local club membership prices and goes toward subsidizing events for members, paying for paper and electronic newsletters, and back to the NAA for support they provide.

As for me, I’m the VP Membership and Marketing for the NUCC, and, like all of our board members, one of my primary responsibilities is planning great events, some of which you are about to hear all about!

LTP:  Anything else you’d love to share with us?

Gia: I think I’ve said enough already ;)!

But, I did want to mention that I’ve heard some other local clubs are also planning events for some away games. Look for the Milwaukee Club to consider an event related to the Wisconsin game and for both LA and San Francisco to work on events for the Cal game. You can reach out to their clubs at http://alumni.northwestern.edu/milwaukee, http://alumni.northwestern.edu/sfbay, and http://alumni.northwestern.edu/losangeles. I’m sure they’d also love to hear about your interest and suggestions for those events.
I have also heard some concerns about verifying that tickets go to Northwestern fans. As a club, our events are members’ only, and we verify that the person attending is a Northwestern alumnus and member of our club through the alumni database. However, sometimes that still results in folks wearing opposing team colors (for instance, they went to Michigan undergrad and Kellogg for grad school). Most of the time, this results in a little fun rivalry at events, and hopefully the recruitment of these attendees to adopt Northwestern as their second team!

LTP: Thanks Gia. We’ll be back here soon with more info. In the meantime, here are the LTP Road Trip poll results:

Which one game would you pick to attend in 2013?

  • @ Cal (48%, 346 Votes)
  • @ Nebraska (21%, 152 Votes)
  • @Wisconsin (19%, 139 Votes)
  • @ Illinois (7%, 47 Votes)
  • @Iowa (5%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 714

  • BG

    Looks like the Wisconsin game just got set for 3:30pm ET, which is good news for those looking to roadtrip to Madison.