A different side of sports

Behind the scenes of athletic communications

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A different side of sports

Nik Cunningham, Sports Editor

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There are all sports at USI and only two people manage all of them, Ray Simmons and Dan McDonnell. 

Together, they make graphics, write press releases, attend travel games, manage the USI athletics website and much more.

“There’s a lot of 15 hour days,” Simmons said. “The average workweek right now is somewhere between 50 and 60 hours a week.”

Weeks usually run day-to-day and involve a lot of scheduling, communication and emails.

“We have a thing called the TV eyes that tell us what we were mentioned in as far as in local TV broadcasts or even what we’ve gotten in the regional and national type of thing,” Simmons said.

The work and the schedules change with different seasons and sports. Basketball is more planned out and requires more game notes than volleyball. Softball is the only game played during the softball season, so there will be more attention to that sport because there are fewer things pulling attention away from it.

“I was always love it when we get into softball because I’m more able to focus and dedicate time towards that event, especially in the postseason because I can actually focus on publicizing the team a little more,” McDonnell said. “I wish I had the time to dedicate the attention deserved to every single team, the way I can dedicate myself to the softball postseason because that’s the only sport we’ve got going on.”

A typical week for Simmons starts on Monday and includes making graphics for any awards or recognitions that could be put up throughout the week and preparing games for the week.

“Game notes for that week depends upon what sport it is,” Simmons said. “If it’s men’s and women’s soccer, usually that’s done on Monday. If it’s men’s and women’s basketball, we wait for rankings on Tuesday, which we’ve been putting the rankings out on Tuesday just because it’s just the way it falls.”

Wednesday is the day to make sure there are students willing to cover games on game days and making sure that the computer is set up and ready to print game updates for the media table. Thursday and Friday are for double checking work and making sure nothing was missed.

“If it’s soccer season, I’m at the soccer field by three o’clock in the afternoon, getting everything ready,” Simmons said. “If it’s basketball, we’re setting up in the arena at one o’clock for a doubleheader. Then I work through the games, writing the game stories. I’m probably not done until 10:30 or 11 o’clock.”

With all of the work they put into setting up and running the games, Simmons and McDonnell tend to interact with the coaches and players, learning more about the people they are writing about in their press releases.

“I talked to the coaches, obviously a lot more than I talked to players,” McDonnell said. “I’m probably the closest with this softball players because I’ve put in so much time in the postseason travel with them over the last four or five years, but I still keep my distance because, at the end of the day, this is a job.”

When he first started, McDonnell used to get nervous before games because he wanted the players to be happy, but most of all, now he wants them to learn and get better at the sports they love and grow as a team.

“There are things for them to learn on the court, being part of a team, will help them in everyday life,” McDonnell said. “So to see some of the student-athletes develop from coming in as freshmen to where they are as seniors. That’s pretty cool. That’s fun to see.”