Behind the scenes work is tough.
Athletes and coaches appear at press conferences, team media guides are created, the scoreboard lights up correctly and stats are recorded. These tasks don’t magically happen but are thoughtfully prepared and accomplished through sports information directors. Murray State has four SIDs who run the internal duties for all Murray State athletics; last week we were introduced to Dave Winder and John Brush and these are two of their stories.
Teri LaJeunesse, Media Relations Assistant, volleyball, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, track
Born into a family with sports in its DNA, Teri LaJeunesse was bound to have a career in athletics.
“My whole family has always been into sports, it’s one of those stories – my grandpa was a football coach and played football and three out of four boys played football, one played hockey and then my dad was the rounder, shorter one of the group and was like me, very accident prone, so he went in to writing instead and naturally went into a sports writing position,” she said.
While studying at Michigan Technological University, LaJeunesse was hired in the same sports information office her dad previously worked in.
“Sports was always part of what you would end up doing, so I started working in the office and once I was there I realized this is what I want to do,” she said. “For me, everybody just kind of expected it.”
LaJeunesse, a native of Houghton, Mich., graduated from Michigan Tech in 2003 with a degree in business administration and concentration in marketing and management, as well as a degree in scientific and technical communication before earning her master’s degree in liberal studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
During her time at the two schools she served in sports information before working at Western Illinois University for two years. In 2006, LaJeunesse became a Racer when hired as a Media Relations Assistant at Murray State.
The unexpected perks from the job is LaJeunesse’s favorite part of being an SID, she said.
“We don’t get paid the best but we get to travel all over the place and see all these places and get to know where you’d like to go to,” the hockey fan said. “That time with the other coaches and student-athletes is where you really get to know them. Sitting on a bus for 10 hours going to Morehead – things come up and you get to understand where they’re coming from and their personalities.”
Sometimes SIDs are forced into a position which requires them to split their time between multiple sports, even if that means missing games.
“If you look at the women’s basketball games there are three home games for November and December total, I will miss the first two assuming volleyball makes the tournament,” LaJeunesse said. “The first home game we have a home volleyball game that night at the same time, so I’ll be over at volleyball.
“You have to prioritize depending on the time in the season, volleyball is at the end of the season and basketball is non-conference so I’ll still write the story that night for basketball, but we have to split the staff up which is hard. Especially when you have the same people doing your stats for both games, normally.”
Ryan Haage, Sports Information Intern,soccer, cross country, softball, and live stats for football and basketball
In his second and final year as sports information intern, Ryan Haage is an integral part of the media-relations department.
A native of Muscatine, Iowa, Haage began his sports information career early in life.
“My dad kind of got me into (sports information); I did scoreboards for basketball games when I was in seventh grade because he did that in our middle school and I did that all the way through high school,” he said. “During my freshman year (of college) I went to the sports information office and basically said this is what I did in high school and I want to do something like that, and they put me to work right away and that’s what got me into it.”
Haage graduated from Valparaiso with a different degree than originally planned, he said.
“I went to Valparaiso to be a meteorology major and I quit that after a year and a half because I didn’t want to do the math or science for it,” he said. “I was at the point where I didn’t want to just get by and hope I’d be able to stick with it, I wanted to find something I wanted to do and liked to do, so I switched to sports management and did a lot more with sports info.”
Motivated by interacting with coaches and athletes and the always-changing environment of athletics, Haage said he likes working events at the fast pace the job requires.
“Sometimes it can be hard balancing, especially this part of the year where you’re crossing over between fall and winter sports and juggling different coaches and things you’re responsible for,” he said. “In-game stuff can be extremely stressful because you can’t screw up – when we’re doing stats for basketball it has to be correct – there is no leeway room at all, you have to be perfect.”
Flexibility and love for sports are two essentials when pursuing sports information as a career, Haage said.
“The one thing in the SID world is that you can’t have an outside life that you like to plan ahead of time, your outside life doesn’t exist in season,” he said. “Like when I’m with softball, I don’t have a weekend off for three months and Teri is laughing because hers is six months. You have to be flexible, you have to realize for all these different types of people and you have to be able to manage personalities and go with how other people want things. Be adaptable, be a people person.”