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By Nafeesa Connolly
Nafeesa is a NCAA Division III SAAC member and Simmons College volleyball student-athlete.
Good morning. My name is Nafeesa Connolly, a volleyball student athlete from Simmons College in Boston, Mass., and I am a member of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for Division III and for my campus. I’d like to kick off this morning by thanking Mr. Eric McDowell and the CoSIDA board for giving Alex, David, Julie and myself this incredible opportunity to speak at this year’s convention and to be among our nation’s best athletic communicators in the business.
Being a student-athlete at a Division III institution means, as President Emmert said, “striking a balance” – striking a balance between our achievements with our sport and our success in the classroom. Almost every recipient last night at the Capital One Special Awards Gala uttered the same message, that having a balance is what makes us truly remarkable – but it’s also why sports information directors (SIDs) are such important figures in athletic departments across the nation.
I’ve watched the Simmons SID Emma Dunn on the sidelines recording stats and in her office chipping away at our athletic website, and also know that she balances her job with earning her masters. I’m grateful for the relationship I have with Emma, especially as a student-athlete that is not exactly a star on the court. My relationship with her did not come from freshmen orientation or 2010 pre-season, it came from a story on the national SAAC and my interest in her profession. Prior to this past NCAA Convention, I was unaware of the formal duties an SID takes on, but I’m humbled that I can now confidently thank her for her work and develop a stronger relationship in the next two years.
To be fair and to try to give you the best Division III student-athlete perspective possible, I asked fellow teammates, student-athletes, and SAAC members to share how they felt about their SID. Some said they are very close with them, both personally and through their campus SAAC. Others had no relationship whatsoever. But one thing that was unanimous was the appreciation all of the student-athletes have for their SID.
Credit should be given where credit is due, and I feel that there’s been plenty of emphasis on our student-athlete achievements. But I think it’s time to acknowledge your job, your hours on the clock, and your commitment to making us shine. I’ve seen firsthand the amount of work Emma takes on and can only imagine how much more work it is at a co-ed institution. I feel however, this may be a reason why many Division III SIDs aren’t as close to some student-athletes as they would like to be.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and in this case, the SID’s attention is magnified to the court, rink, field and diamond triumphs, as opposed to those feature stories on recent community outreach or academic praise. This isn’t the case in all situations, but it happens enough to acknowledge and for some SIDs to say it’s not something they’re proud of. But with the demands of their profession, some stories just have to wait.
The four of us have often heard these past couple days that the SID essentially works for student-athletes. I naturally want to make anyone’s job easier, and I know these student-athletes feel the same way. As three of us represent SAAC, I think campus SAACs should spearhead a movement to make your lives easier, as well as students like Julie at NAIA institutions who participate in amazing leadership opportunities.
Something that I’ve talked to Emma about was the more help to more coverage ratio. Her one woman job and many of your one person jobs may be daunting to the 10-21 sports you all cover. As advisors to the athletic department, SAAC student-athletes should be able to report to SIDs and share additional accolades our teammates have – and who knows, one student-athlete may be able to write that story her or himself. Any relationship is a two-way street, but SAAC is a great opportunity and jumpstart this idea with the SID.
I also believe that making the SID visible in the athletic department and taking the time to voice their hard work to student-athletes will make an impact – especially since some student-athletes really don’t know who they are, let alone know about their everyday tasks. And of course, taking it upon ourselves to make an introduction will start to build that four-year or longer relationship.
As the public relations intern in the Simmons Marketing Department, I see a cross between our monthly newsletters and our day-to-day athletic highlights. I’d like to see more of this cross on other campuses, and even strengthen the current one mine has. We all know that the world of sports can’t wait for a story that happened a month ago, so collaboration will align with Division III’s philosophy statement and help both offices at institutions underline those recaps.
I hope my insight may help some of you achieve your institutional or personal goals as your words have helped Alex, David, Julie and myself with ours in striking that balance and creating lasting relationships with our SIDs. Thank you for your time, and I am looking forward to hearing your feedback and questions.
Panel participants included:
Last Updated: Sep 23, 2012