That Kim Cerjan is headed to New Orleans to compete in the American Family Insurance High School 3-Point Championship is a victory for her and her parents and their tireless determination to the Facebook-driven campaign.
It’s also a victory for Colorado Springs.
A senior at Doherty High School who will be play at St. Olaf College, Cerjan is the wild-card contestant in the competition, which will pit her against seven others, six of whom will be attending NCAA Division I schools next year. The finals will be held Friday and are scheduled to be aired nationally on CBS on Sunday during its coverage of the NCAA Men’s Final Four.
But as the wild-card contestant, Cerjan’s path was unique. Her coach at Doherty, Pat McKiernan, submitted a video of Cerjan making 16 3-pointers. Once her video passed through a committee comprised of people representing CBS, MaxPreps and Intersport, she became one of 16 hopefuls in a bracket-style competition that used votes on Facebook to decide the winner.
Her video was paired against that of another contestant, which was hosted on the High School Slam Facebook page. After a week of online voting, the person with the most votes advanced.
Facing four consecutive weeks of voting, it turned into something resembling a political campaign. Each week, Cerjan, her parents Keith and Karla and her brother, Kole, would work to solicit votes.
“She made it into the (wild-card) competition because she can shoot the 3,” Karla Cerjan said. “But she gets to go (to New Orleans) because of everybody voting. It was a popularity contest to see how many people you could get to vote for you.”
That turned out to be an exhaustive four-week odyssey.
“It’s a long process; it’s four weeks and you have to ask everybody everyday ‘did you vote?’” Karla said. “Family and friends were the biggest supporters because they were there from Day 1. They stuck with us through four weeks — that was a lot to ask of them. We added the others on as we got through each round.”
The city and mayor Steve Bach got involved with mentions of the contest on the city council’s web page and the city’s intranet. School District 11 was supportive, as were numerous local businesses and organizations. Little brother Kole was also involved. The Cerjans got support from his hockey club and he was even allowed to make morning announcements at his middle school.
The Cerjans also talked to print and online publications as well as radio and TV stations.
“By the third round, we were literally begging the media to help,” Keith said. “We emailed every disc jockey. We weren’t really looking for press, we were looking for votes.”
Attempts to reach out to media sources in Denver, however, were met with silence.
“We reached out to the Denver media to try to make it a statewide effort,” Keith said. “They weren’t friendly at all. I got one reply out of probably 200 (contacts), and that reply was ‘good luck.’”
Thus the campaign became primarily a Colorado Springs effort. And a Colorado Springs victory.