Sports Information – A vital, but virtually unknown, position in athletics

By Kevin Russell, Sports Editor

December 5, 2012

Erica Carrubba

It was 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20 and after more than seven days of compiling statistics, covering games and writing game notes, Erica Carrubba finally had arrived back on the campus of High Point University.

During her hectic week, which began as she boarded a bus with the women’s basketball team headed for Furman, S.C.,  Carrubba visited four different colleges and universities and spent six of the seven nights in a hotel room, alone.

She had traveled more than 1,809 miles through six different states and covered four separate games.

It was a hectic week for sure, however not completely out of the ordinary for a college sports information director (SID).

“I love being asked what a typical day is for me. It makes me laugh every day,” tweeted Carrubba.

As an SID, you can rest assured you will never have a typical 9-5 workday.

The main responsibilities include compiling and keeping statistics for games, producing game notes and game stories for each game and handling all interview requests for both the athletes and coaches, of their respective teams.

“Obviously we work every game keeping stats and writing game stories, but we’re also part teacher,” said Carrubba. “We coach our student athletes and coaches to do better interviews, as well as work with our student media in terms of how to cover athletics as journalists.”

In essence, an SID is an extension of the athletic department’s marketing team.  The main difference is each SID is assigned to specific teams, in order to help them gain more publicity and media attention.

John Brown

John Brown of HPU’s men’s basketball team was recently featured on Sports Center’s Top 10 Plays, mainly because of the hard work put forth by the HPU sports information team.  They captured the footage, cut the highlight and then did everything in their power to have the clip go viral on social media and YouTube.

“At the end of the day, it’s our job to get our name or our brand out there and if we do that, then we know we are doing our job,” said Carrubba.

At small athletic departments like HPU, which currently fields 16 teams, each SID is usually assigned to multiple teams.

At HPU, there are four people working in the Sports Information Office: Carrubba, Joe Arancio,  Michelle Manzo and the Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information, Jon Litchfield.

Jon Litchfield

“To have four people [in the office] is above average, but it’s not extravagant by any means,” said Litchfield. “Certainly you need to be a jack of all trades to work as an SID, especially at smaller schools because you are responsible for so much more.”

Manzo, who came onto the staff less than a year ago, is currently in charge of the multimedia elements that the sports information office produces.

“In the past we had just done stats and no video because we had no time,” said Litchfield. “By adding Michelle, we are able to do so much more.”

Litchfield is not alone in his assessment.

“Sports information offices are doing more than they used to with the expansion of social media and video,” said Carrubba. “Adding a person like Michelle means less work, but in reality it also means our office is able to produce that much more.”

There is a lot required of sports information departments and SIDs, but thankfully there are enough people who love sports and fit right into the position.

Joe Arancio

“I’ve thought to myself a few times about moving on and possibly doing something else, but every time I think about it, I can never see myself doing anything else,” said Arancio. “I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade the last three years for anything else.”

Arancio is not alone. Many people want to work in sports information.

“There is an extremely high demand for any position in college athletics, especially in sports information,” said Litchfield. “If I were to post a position opening in our office, within a few days I’d have more than 100 people inquiring. People hear sports and getting to travel with teams and think, what’s not to like?”

In many instances, it’s actually a passion for writing, along with an interest in sports, which leads to one becoming an SID.

Carrubba, Litchfield and Arancio all went to school planning on becoming journalists. Litchfield even had a position working for The Boston Globe before he decided to become an SID.

With the slow demise of print journalism, college SIDs are becoming more popular among journalism graduates.

There is clearly a high demand for positions in athletics and many see becoming an SID as a way to get their foot in the door.  Many people who become SID’s very quickly realize that it does not translate into a typical lifestyle.

Michelle Manzo

For Carrubba, Litchfield and Arancio to all still be working together at HPU after three years is a minor miracle in the world of sports information.

“HPU is a really supportive place with a lot of benefits,” said Carrubba who also worked in sports information at Northeastern. “At Northeastern, or any big school, there is much less of a community in terms of an athletic department.  You never saw everyone working every sport like you do here.”

All four members of the HPU sports information team have made certain sacrifices in order to continue to work in their position, yet they don’t seem to mind because they love what they do.

There is an old saying, which states, “You never work a day in your life if you love what you do.” For the members of the HPU Sports Information team, this seems to ring true.

“I get to travel with teams and also get to write,” said Carrubba. “It’s the best of both worlds. As far as I can tell I cannot imagine seeing myself doing anything other than being an SID.”