2016 Excellence In Communication Award Winners – Track & Field
NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Excellence in Communication Awards for NCAA track & field.
Purdue’s Matthew Staudt earned the honor for NCAA Division I, while Slippery Rock’s Jon Holtz captured the award for NCAA Division II and WPI’s Mark Therrien for NCAA Division III.
The USTFCCCA Excellence in Communications Award recognizes those athletics communications representatives at schools and conferences who have committed to excellent coverage and support of collegiate track & field. Winners were selected by the USTFCCCA National Office.
Read below to find out more about Holtz, Staudt and Therrien.
NCAA DIVISION I — Matthew Staudt, Purdue
Matthew Staudt has been exceptional in the promotion of a Purdue track & field program on the rise nationally – and not just within the confines of the sport.
Thanks to Staudt’s efforts this year, Purdue track & field garnered national news headlines through the story of Charlotte Brown — a blind pole vaulter who competes for the Boilermakers. He coordinated with numerous national outlets and facilitated a piece that ran for about a week on CNN Headline News. The piece opened the door for more interest in Purdue track & field — and track & field in general — from the media.
The national headlines are a byproduct of Staudt’s commitment to distributing high-quality and timely information on the Boilermakers and their achievements, through both traditional and new media avenues.
During the NCAA Outdoor Championships, he posted to Twitter a series of animated GIFs — each one personalized for each of the Boilermakers’ NCAA qualifiers — that informed followers when they could tune into ESPN to watch Purdue. Those tweets were followed by Purdue’s results in each of those events, highlight videos, fun/engaging GIFs, and even live interviews through Periscope.
Further proof of Staudt’s ability to adapt to whatever the situation requires came at the Big Ten Championships. When Staudt learned — just moments before departure — the scheduled videographer for the trip would be unable to travel, he took it upon himself to produce a “Mic’d Up” video piece on the women’s 4×400 relay in addition to his regular duties. That piece earned acclaim from numerous coaches and colleagues around the country, and ended up being viewed nearly 300,000 times.
NCAA DIVISION II — Jon Holtz, Slippery Rock
It’s no secret that Jon Holtz excels in his role as the cross country and track & field contact at Slippery Rock; he was the cross country honoree for this award this past fall. With so many exceptional candidates from around the nation at the Division II level, to become the award’s first repeat honoree required a remarkable effort throughout 2016 — a standard Holtz easily surpassed.
Holtz was responsible for organizing the PSAC Outdoor Championships’ first-ever live stream, providing all of the equipment, setup and commentary throughout the weekend. Certainly a commendable achievement in itself, the fact the meet was hosted not by Slippery Rock, but rather Mansfield (Holtz’s alma mater), makes it even more so. Holtz suggested and took the lead on the project in partnership with the Mansfield sports information department, and the stream ultimately resulted in more than 10,000 views throughout the weekend.
He did all that while covering his own program, which finished runner-up in both genders’ team races and produced multiple individual conference champions. That high standard of coverage — described as “comprehensive, incredibly detailed, and first-class” by former award winner Bill Morgal of Shippensburg — remained steady throughout the entire season.
At the NCAA Championships in Bradenton, Florida, he demonstrated his skills in photography. Not only did he take photos of Slippery Rock athletes throughout the three-day Championships, but he also took as many photos as possible of as many athletes as possible and shared them with sports information departments around the country for use.
NCAA DIVISION III — Mark Therrien, WPI
Mark Therrien, the assistant sports information director at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has gone above and beyond his duties in promoting the sport of track & field during the 2015-16 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons.
Therrien, in his first year as a full-time staff member (fourth overall), almost exclusively handles all coverage and social media duties for both the men’s and women’s cross country and track & field programs at WPI and makes sure all of student-athletes’ hometown newspapers are aware of their accomplishments. His previews and recaps consistently land among the most-read stories on the WPI website when it comes to time a user spends on a page.
“He understands that this not only is promoting the hard work of the student-athlete, but is helping promote the program to potential recruits,” WPI head coach Brian Chabot said in Therrien’s nomination. “He is always seeking out different award programs where our student-athletes’ performances in the classroom or on the track and field can be highlighted. He is well deserving of the Excellence in Communication Award.”