The Athletics Department at the University of Dallas has gone through recent improvements that continue to serve student-athletes and their needs. The student-athlete body faces a set of unique challenges and opportunities as they balance their academic and athletic schedules, and the Athletics Media Department helps encourage and support them through their online presence.
Despite the lack of athletic scholarships and competing schedules, Jarred Samples, director of athletics at UD, proudly stated, “Last year, our student GPA was above a 3.0.”
Samples is a UD alumnus and past athlete. Passionate to provide for his ‘team’ of athletes and coaches, he said of his work, “I think the part that I really enjoy in the job is hopefully helping our student-athletes have a better college experience.”
Clearly, UD athletes can compete above and beyond both on and off the court. However, now with the rise of the Athletic Media Department, they can be further encouraged to continue their paths.
“When I first came here, we had little to no media,” Anisa Menza, a sports information director graduate assistant and a former soccer player in the women’s soccer team, said.
She described past media coverage as a picture taken from a phone and scrambled game statistics. However, with the rise of the Athletic Media Department, today’s student-athletes are better served. The work put into the department is intense.
“My work on a very busy day is running the social media accounts, doing updates with the results after the games, during the games,” Menza explained.
With content growing on multiple platforms, the workers have their hands full. Menza described the goal of the department to provide more engagement with athletics, both internally on the UD campus, and externally, such as gaining recognition among other colleges.
Menza also pointed to the work Pauly Ulrich, the sports information director, puts into the department.
Ulrich described his work, “When in season, game days take up the bulk of my time during the week; I am responsible for event set-up, staffing, livestreaming the event, as well as being the official scorekeeper for the match.”
Additionally, Ulrich and Menza are the ones behind the athletics’ social media posts. They create, design and post the Photoshop templates of upcoming games, results and player spotlights. Many athletes re-posted these same posts to advertise their game days or to simply show off their teammate to the UD community.
Ulrich said, “Many schools have dedicated graphic designers or content creators in their athletics department, especially in Division II and Division I. I wanted to replicate their multimedia production as best as I could, so I’ve spent many hours over the last three years honing my craft and I am quite proud of how far I’ve come with no formal training.”
He also described his motivation for the hard work he puts in, “I don’t do this job for the recognition, I do it to help make the student-athlete experience as memorable as I possibly can.”
Ulrich shared this motivation through his experience as a former student-athlete himself. When he played goalkeeper in college, his college had no social media presence, post-game write ups or live streams like UD presently has. There is little physical or online proof of his recorded saves and his general college athletic career.
“I want them to go back after 10 years and see their headshot from freshman year, I want them to be able to go to our Instagram page and see the cool pre-game graphic they got to be in, I want them to be able to go to our livestream portal and find the game-winning goal they scored,” Ulrich explained. “I want them to have what I couldn’t have.”
Overall, with their goals and motivations related to athletics as a whole, Samples, Menza and Ulrich all stressed the need for more engagement from UD’s community.
Ulrich explained how the Athletic Media Department helps towards this end, “I redesigned the website this summer, it just went live a couple of weeks ago, and I am rather pleased with how it turned out. I think it serves as a great first impression for UD Athletics.”
Samples said wistfully, “We would love to have more people out at games.”
Going to games alone and cheering on UD is a great way to show support for the hard working athletes.
“Look out for UD Athletics on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, and come out to the games,” Menza said.
So, grab a group of friends, go out to a volleyball, soccer or basketball game, and make a night out of it – appreciate the hard working athletes that add so much to the UD culture!