The truly creative and inspirational efforts for NCAAW always begin with some serious brainstorming. One of the first things you will want to do with your committee is to sit around and "Dream" a little bit. What things would you like to accomplish? If you could do anything, what would you do?

For many committees, brainstorming begins with a theme. You want to find a theme that will frame your activities for the entire week. You want something memorable, marketable, and fun. A good way to begin this process is to get a flip chart and some markers. The only rule is that there are no dumb ideas. Committee members can make suggestions until an overall theme appears. As your committee members get excited about an idea, start a new sheet and refine it until it takes the desired form. Acronyms can be developed around fun words. Parts of songs or poems can be incorporated. Historical quotations can be used. It is up to you!

Because many of their campuses like a head start for NCAAW themes, The BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer Education Network has sponsored their own NCAAW theme materials for many years. Past themes have included, "That's What Friends Are For" and "Because We CARE." In 1997, BACCHUS is promoting their NCAAW campaign called MAJORITY RULES! THE WRITING'S ON THE WALL. MOST STUDENTS ARE MAKING HEALTHY CHOICES. Each of their affiliates receives a free "NCAAW Kit" full of posters, post-it notes, cups, buttons, key chains and other ready-to-use materials. For more information on how you can get access to these materials by joining the Network, call (303) 871-0901.

If you are searching for your own unique theme, there are an infinite number of directions your brainstorming might take. Some themes that other campuses have successfully promoted include:

It's also great to build themes around popular television shows (like the current hit, E.R. or Friends). This is where the students on your committee can be particularly helpful! They know what their friends watch and listen to! Sometimes you get really crazy ideas like "NCAAW: With Or Without Elvis!" Every day of NCAAW using this theme would be marked by a different Elvis song such as:

Your theme will be the lasting memory of your week. It will be your calling card next year when you go looking for support for NCAAW 1998! It will appear on your posters, your T-shirts, and in the titles of your educational programs.

Brainstorming is just what the word applies - a "storm" of ideas that are offered first and evaluated later. We naturally judge and categorize things immediately. Our brains are trained to sort things as good ideas or bad, worthwhile or not. The key to brainstorming is to turn off that judging process so that ideas flow freely without anyone trying to figure out whether or not they will work, if it costs too much money, etc. The other good thing about suspending judgment on ideas is that the people who are brainstorming don't have to worry about "saying something stupid." People are often reluctant to offer ideas, fearing the criticism of others. If you conduct a productive brainstorming session, people will feel comfortable blurting out any thought.


Judgment is suspended until a later screening or evaluation session. Allowing yourself to be critical at the same time you are being creative is like trying to get hot water and cold water from the faucet at the same time. Ideas aren’t hot enough; criticism isn’t cold enough. Results are tepid.

The wilder the ideas, the better. Even offbeat, impractical suggestions may “trigger” in other panel members, practical suggestions which may not otherwise occur to them.

The greater the number of ideas, the greater the likelihood of winners. It is easier to pare down a long list of ideas than puff up a shorter list.

In addition to contributing ideas of their own, panel members should suggest how suggestions by others can be turned into better ideas, or how two or more ideas could be combined into a still better idea.

(Brainstorming is explained in detail in APPLIED IMAGINATlON by Alex F. Osborn, L.H.D., Littd, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 597 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York.)