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June 14, 2012

Eric McDowell

Aaron Sagraves

Dave Walters

ERIC McDOWELL:  Great to have you with us for what is our final session of the year.  It's been a tremendous year, a lot of different topics.  We appreciate all our guests.
This one today, very unique topic.  Presented by the College Division Management Advisory Committee, Making the Most of Your Summertime Hours.
Our presenters today are Dave Walters, the Guilford College assistant athletics director, and Aaron Sagraves, who is the sports information director at Davenport.
Dave and Aaron, thank you so much for your preparation, for your work today, to really help everyone throughout the summertime.
We'll start it up with you folks right now.
DAVE WALTERS:  Hopefully the hard‑working SIDs of the world are getting much‑deserved rest and relaxation.  That's something that Aaron will touch on here in a few minutes.  Thanks, too, for the organizers at CoSIDA, the folks at TRZ, and ASAP Sports, as well, for their participation.
There are a lot fewer events in the summer months, and the sports information directors should have more free time.  But a good question that we thought in the CD Mac group was, How are some ways the SID can best use that extra time?  Hopefully over the next few minutes, we'll go through a few ideas that may be germane to you and hopefully help you be a little more productive and efficient in the summertime.
Again, we're picturing this as a glorified table topic, if you're familiar with those parts of the CoSIDA workshop program.
Up front, I think it's important to note that summer is really not the same for everyone.  Here at Guilford College, a Division III school, we're six weeks into our summer.  It's about halfway over.  The schedule really slows for the Quakers after the last weekend in April.  But there are a number of university division schools with larger sports information staff that have different downtime, individual sports responsibilities.  The SIDs for the eight teams of the College World Series this week will be at it for another couple weeks before they can continue their post‑season wrap‑up procedures.  Division I track and softball just finished.  Many of the BCS and subdivision conferences will start their Media Days in about a month.
If you're supervising one of those multi‑people staffs, it's important to realize there are different times of rest and downtimes, if you will, for the different folks on your staff.
But, again, hopefully we'll have a couple tips here that are good for you so that you can realize a rewarding summer.
I'll turn it over now to Aaron from Davenport in Michigan to start us off.
AARON SAGRAVES:  Thanks for having us.
The main thing that Dave and I talked about when preparing this for all you guys, it's a sense of renewal almost, kind of renewing yourself, renewing some relationships you might have forgotten about during the year, and recapping the previous season.
The main thing is a renewal process, renewing yourself personally.  We all have the time on hand to do a lot of different things throughout the summer that we're not able to do during the school year because of our busy schedules.  But renewing yourself personally, taking that vacation.  Obviously you might be able to travel some places throughout the year, bring your family with you on certain trips with your teams, but that's not really a vacation.  My wife would always say, Hey, we're going with you, but you're working eight, nine, ten hours a day while you're there.  Try to get away from all work responsibilities.  If that means leaving your cell phone, your computer, that's what it needs to be.  That's the goal of trying to get away and renew yourself through a vacation.  See some family, see some people you haven't seen throughout the entire year.
Another way of doing that is a long weekend you might be able to take.  Here at Davenport, we're pretty flexible during the summer.  Our athletic director, his supervisor, know that we put a lot of hours in during the school year, so we can ask for a day off a week or so to stay at home, even do some work at home.  But would it be possible to work four days a week or even three days a week.  Make a long weekend where you take a Monday or Friday where you're not in the office so you can get that three‑day break.
We all know when we're at home we're still kind of doing some type of work, whether it be social media, checking email, updating rosters, schedules, as we get them from our coaches.
Obviously the pursuing of hobbies.  A lot of people out there have young kids.  Coaching your kids' sports, doing things in the yard.  I know I'm a big landscape guy.  I enjoy my time in the yard, mowing, things like that.  Getting out and playing golf.  That's always a good one.  Just doing some things you want to do that are away from the job.  Somebody suggested take some time off to read.  You don't have a lot of time during the year, you get out of the office late, you don't want to read a book, unless it puts you to sleep.  And exercising, that's a big one for a lot of us in our profession.  With the travel and the bad eating habits we probably have, it's good to focus on your exercising and get that going if you haven't started it during the year.
During the summer is a great time, the CoSIDA 5K, getting out there and run with so many people that love to run.  That's a way to do it personally, renew yourself and get away.
There's ways to do it professionally, as well.  One of the main ways is to go to a convention.  CoSIDA's convention is next week, the 23rd to the 26th I believe are the dates, doing the convention in St.Louis.  Obviously that's a great time for networking and learning on different panels, and your chance to get involved.  Through CoSIDA there's a lot of different ways that people like Eric and other people are looking for people that are out there that want to get involved, help out, make CoSIDA a better organization than it already is.
There's ECACSIDA, it's mainly an East Coast type conference.  The sports information directors out there have done a great job of performing their own convention together last week in Pittsburgh, next year in Manchester, New Hampshire.  They have their own website, you can look into that a little bit.
There's always time to take a class in the summer, read stat manuals, where you can get refreshed as to what changes are coming in statistical projects, what things you can learn.  Obviously Photoshop, if you're not using it frequently, you lose a little bit of it.  For my knowledge, getting any kind of knowledge with Photoshop is a good thing.  Any type of training you can take there is a good thing.
Then meeting other SIDs, trying to have lunch with them, trying to learn what they're doing, trying to get away, hang out with them and see what they're doing, the best practices we can use at our schools, as well.
The second thing that I'll focus on is renewing relationships.  We're on the go so much from August 1 or even July 15th for a lot of people, we don't have football here at Davenport, so it's a little different animal than most schools might have.  We usually don't get going hard until about August 1, August 15, when the students start coming back into school.
But you need some time to meet with your own staff.  Some schools might have a bigger staff, if there are student workers, grad assistants, full‑time assistants, things like that.  You have to have some time to learn what they're doing, how they can benefit from what you have the plan for for the next year.
If you're a one‑person or two‑man shop, you want to meet with your athletic director, find out what his ideas are, meet with other people on campus as well.  How can you benefit them and how can they help you do what you're doing?
I find also a very important point is to meet with the media.  I was on a panel at CoSIDA a few years ago, I don't remember the exact speaker that told me this, but with the days of texting and email, all the technology we have, we learn that face‑to‑face contact with a lot of our media that are out there, especially during the summer.  Everybody goes away for a little bit.  Taking the time to meet with them, have lunch with them.  It might be kind of sucking up to them a little bit, but that's fine.  They're the people you're trying to get your student‑athletes and coaches covered through.  So you want to build those relationships when you have the time.  The summer is when you have a lot more time.
Obviously we all have our projects that we're doing.  You want to meet with your vendors, call them if they are around local, you want to try to meet up with them, the same way you did with the media, make sure we have those face‑to‑face interactions with them, that you actually care what they're doing for your school.
You also want to meet with the college archivist.  Same way with the media:  how can I help you, how can I help them.  You want to do that, what kind of resources do they have available to give to you.
The last one, and I do this every year at the end of the year and at the beginning of the year, set up meetings with our coaches to discuss what happened last year, good things, bad things, new ideas, things like that.  You want to have as much interaction with your coaches to get their ideas.  Sometimes they are doing things that you're not doing, they really liked it.  It's a good time to meet with your coaches.  A less stressful time.  Middle of the season is a difficult time, they're on the recruiting trail, on the road playing games.  It's just a difficult time.
The last thing I'll touch on, you have to recap the previous season.  We do this in steps at Davenport to eliminate the end‑of‑the‑year stuff as being such a big burden.  Updating your record books.  Don't forget to check your NCAA records, whatever you want to be affiliated with.  You want to look for updating web profiles of your student‑athletes.  Again, we do this at the end of each year.  In the fall, soccer, volleyball, cross‑country, so it's not everybody all at once.  I use my student workers to help out and part‑time assistants to help out.  It's a different dynamic we do so we don't have so much at the end.  We have 26 sports here, so if we waited till the end, we'd be overloaded.
Backing up statistical files, in case something happens to your main computers.  One of the biggest things is send out the thank you notes, people that made an impact, media, other schools that have helped you, SIDs that helped you.  It's always nice to get a note in the mail from a person that helped you out a little bit, or you helped them out a little bit, then get a thank you.  It means so much more.  When you need them, you'll turn to that person, and when they need you, the same goes.
There's so many different things that you can do.
The last thing I'll leave you with, we do the top 10 moments of the year.  Keeps the website going through the year, other than recruit signings, things like that.  We do a moment of the year at Davenport.  Our sports information department did it a couple years ago, now we have students getting on Facebook, we're going to do a contest on Facebook, they're going to be able to do their own top 10, kind of like ESPN, SportsCenter, doing the top 20.
Those are some ideas I have of renewing yourself and your relationships and recapping the previous season.  If you have any questions, make sure you email them.
We'll turn it over to Dave to finish off.
DAVE WALTERS:  Again, it was my vision this would be a glorified table topic, if you will, that folks would be chiming in with things they do in the summertime that might be news to us and helpful to folks, to people in the profession, they might be able to take that and implement it at their institution.
One item that Aaron skipped over was the cleaning your workspace piece.  That's a huge thing in the summertime.  If you're like me, sometimes during the course of the year your office space, your game day facilities, your email box can really get unsightly.  It's nice to come in, maybe in a little less formal dress than you're accustomed to, give it a good cleaning, whether it means straightening up, organizing things in your office, putting files away, or running the vacuum, washing windows, wiping the countertop, just to get a sense of cleanliness back in your office before the new year starts.
The next piece I'm going to talk about are some things you can do to start preparing for the upcoming season.
First, if you have any kind of summertime help, maybe you can find some, if you don't, delegate, get some students engaged, some volunteers, perhaps some part‑time coaches or folks that are on your staff without too much to do but need to be in the office, maybe someone in the athletics staff could lend you some help, whether it's something simple like copying, filing, entering rosters on websites, things like that.
Another thing to prepare for in the upcoming season, you want to get your schedules posted online.  You want to get that information from your coaches, rosters for the upcoming season.  You want to deliver that information to your key constituents if you're doing any kind of schedule cards.  Summer is a good time to prepare for those, distribute those items so folks can be aware of events for your upcoming fall season.
I spent part of my week last week at the ECACSIDA workshop in Pittsburgh picking the mind of other SIDs in attendance there to find out ways they spent some of their summertime hours.  I spoke with Lenny Wright of Mount Union, was dumbfounded by his 750 student‑athletes, that just seemed like a lot to me at Guilford where we probably have less than half that.  He writes profiles for all those students.  If you're going to be cranking out 750 profiles of student‑athletes, you're going to need some summertime hours to input that information, whether it's in the form of a web page profile, something for your media guide, you're going to need to get that profile information on the new students, probably from the coaches, and you're going to want to update the profiles for your returning students, get on that as soon as possible.
Something that we've done with some success at Guilford, I know it's done with greater consistency at scholarship‑giving institutions where there are national letters of intent, the idea of writing press releases for recruits.  If you're a Division III school, you know there are students that have paid their deposit to attend your school, you are at liberty to publicize the fact they're coming to your school and intend to participate in a sport.
We've done that with our football team here.  It's another way to keep some content flowing on your websites and social media sites, and it's fairly popular.  I was surprised to learn that the single most popular press release that I posted in April on GuilfordQuakers.com was an announcement about six students who paid their deposit and indicated an interest in playing football at Guilford.  It's important if you're a Division III school to remember you can only publicize those students who officially made their deposits to the school.
Speaking with folks in Upstate NewYork last week, they use some of their summertime to prepare game program covers, media guide covers for publications in the coming year.  They also work on video productions which can be used on scoreboards or on the school website.  If you're still doing media guides, it's a great time to get that work done.  Many schools have large, time‑consuming publications.  The football books are due in July.  Obviously the summer months provide an opportunity to really make some headway on those media guides.
If you have a sports information questionnaire that you put out to get information on the aforementioned student‑athlete profiles, summertime is a good time to tweak, edit those, put them on your website, deliver them to coaches, however you go through that process of getting information on your student‑athletes, the summer is a good time to do that.
Those are a few ways we've looked at to renew yourself personally and professionally, renewing relationships to people you come into contact with, we've talked about recapping.
I have a few odds and ends I'm going to run through, some special things you can do in the summertime.
One is research.  If your school has a Hall of Fame or perhaps there are some folks that you'd like to nominate for some of the special awards that the NCAA puts out, coaches associations, some special conference awards, perhaps, summertime provides ample opportunity to research some of those candidates, to provide information so that when those announcements seeking nominees for those awards, you're ready to go and are able to make quality nominations.
You can do some research for your school statistics, record books.  I spoke last year with Ryan up in Minnesota.  He discovered a stash of old baseball score books going back into the early history of the school.  He took them home.  When he was home for the summer, he was on maternity leave specifically, but he used that time to enter them into the automated score book, and build up his schoolbooks, had them all there on the computer, which I thought was a neat idea.
Be advised that the NCAA statistics website has scanned in those season summaries that folks used to type or fill out by hand at the conclusion of the season and send to the NCAA.  They have scanned in all of those going way back into history.  I just looked earlier in the week, football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball information is there.  That's a resource perhaps you're not aware of.  Relatively new, but another great place to go if there are some gaps in your records.
Summertime is a good time to do a website redesign.  Speaking from experience, the summertime is a better time to redesign your website than February, which is when we did our redesign a couple years ago.  Think about that.
Something that's happening more is the idea of digitizing your office.  I heard when Tim, who is now at Bridgewater, when he was an intern in the Charlotte sports information office, he had some extra time and started scanning in old documents, statistics, rosters, photos, scanning them in and digitizing them, freeing up space physically.  So the folks at Charlotte have continued that and made that a summertime project of digitizing the office.
Just a warning.  Make sure you have enough digital space to accommodate that, extra hard drives you may need in your office, whatever storage facility you may need for that digital, make sure you have enough space.  As you know, when you're dealing with videos and photos, you're taking up a lot of data space.
Develop a strategic plan for your office, meet with your staff, administrators to determine how you want the following year to work.  Identify some positives and negatives from the previous season, discuss some potential changes and new ideas.
You may have to relocate your office in the summertime.  That could be a good thing or a bad thing.  I know that last summer the sports information office at Guilford was renovated.  We had to move into our press box to the summer, then return to a new office.  That was nice.  I know other folks have had to shift around and move their location.  Again, it's better to move in the summer than it is in October.
Something else you can work on, a special project in the summertime, you can look to hire new assistants, whether it's an intern, student help, maybe a full‑time position that becomes available in your office, go ahead and review those position announcements, run those through, get them squared away, whether it's the work study staff, financial aid people, human resources people, then pound the pavement to find the folks who will help you in the future.
Sometimes in the summer, without too many games, it's hard to keep fresh consent on your website, keeping news in the local media, your social websites as well.  Keep up with your current and former students and staff, what they're doing in the summertime.
Do you have some prospects or current students who are competing in the Olympics, for instance, this summer, or maybe they're playing on national teams.  Maybe there's some former baseball students who are doing big things in the minor or major leagues.  You can carve out the time to put together a feature.  Maybe one of your former students or coach has qualified for the U.S. Open, just something that may not be specific to your school here and now but is connected to it that you can use to send out and keep some fresh information flowing through your office.
Summertime is an opportunity to test out new software or equipment, whether it's a new version of statistics software, maybe you get some new computers over the summer, something like that.  Summer is a good time to take time, play with it, get yourself familiar with it.
For the very ambitious, those with much time, those probably who live in a larger media market, those who have an interest in somehow turning a few dollars, you can think about developing your own sports information camp.  If you're in a large city, maybe you can get the word out to local high schools, local colleges, and maybe there are people who are aspiring sportswriters or sportscasters, somehow you can get in the camp parade that so many of our coaches are able to cash in on in the summertime, develop your own sports information camp program.
I don't know that there are a whole lot of them, but I suppose you can find a way to do some classroom instruction, then go to the a local ballgame, practice running stats, practice doing the broadcasting, then practice the postgame write‑ups and feature story writings, things like that.  That's probably an extreme summertime special project.  But who knows, maybe that's something you can pull off where you are.
Those are a few things we put together.  Hopefully that will give you a rewarding summertime experience.
ERIC McDOWELL:  Gentlemen, this is truly outstanding.  You make us wish that summer lasted 12 months.
There's a lot of things popping into our heads.  We've got some questions.  Two things right off the top, you talked about golf.  The good thing is that when an SID hits one into the woods, he can say, I don't play a lot, I'm an SID.  Built‑in excuse.  The other thing is the camp you just talked about.  Excellent idea.  I worked at a school where there was a broadcasting camp.  This has been something that has been floated out by a lot of people.  If you're in an area, in our case we have many schools, Division I and others, I think it's a great thought about a week‑long type of thing where people could drive in, local kids from high schools who never get exposed to our profession, it's difficult to expose our profession to young people, and I think that's a tremendous thing, a very good thought.
Is that something that either of you have had experience with or have you worked with anybody who has tried that sort of camp during the summer?
DAVE WALTERS:  I believe when I first came down to Greensboro, I worked at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  I worked for a gentleman named Ty Buckner.  I believe at some point early in Ty's tenure, he had that idea ‑ again, borrowing from the concept of looking around and seeing so many coaches having a camp of some description, they're able to turn a little bit of a profit there.  I believe Ty ran a camp for sports information.  Again, I can't speak to its success or its profitability.  But the concept he did put into action and tried it out.  That just came to me actually within the past few hours as something that folks could do in the summer.
Again, I was thinking it's probably better to do that in a large market kind of setting where your population is large, where there's a big pool to draw from and you can find some folks who may be willing to come out for a half day either in the morning or the afternoon and do some kind of classroom instruction, review, critiques, things like that, then maybe in the evening or afternoon there's an event in your area, whether it's a soccer match or a golf tournament or a minor league baseball game, football game, what have you, where you can go out, watch the game, talk to the media relations person there, get some complimentary or reduced‑price tickets, take the kids out and work the game, expose them to the profession.
I know it wasn't until I got into high school that I kind of learned about keeping stats and working with the media.  Then I went to college and realized, Wow, there are people who get paid to do this.  That's where I picked up and learned the profession.  If you can get to people at an earlier age, they can come to your school and hopefully be better prepared for your staff, too.
ERIC McDOWELL:  We've done in a mock press conference and brought in local media.
I'll get right to the questions.  I wanted to see if the presenters had suggests on how to earn extra revenue during the summer, possible jobs related to sports information.  Some other thoughts on that.
AARON SAGRAVES:  I think the people that I've come in contact with, David touched on it a little bit with the area of teams that might be around you.  A volunteer‑type job might work into a paying job, doing the scorebook for a baseball team.  We have a minor team here in Grand Rapids.  He's actually their scorekeeper.  He shares duty.  He knows in the summer they're wishy‑washy with the SIDs, where they might be during the summer.  He shares those duties with somebody else.
The other way of doing it is trying to see what you might be able to do, any kind of coaching responsibility that you do.  I know some of our SIDs, they do some club coaching, whether it be basketball, volleyball, et cetera.  That's another way of doing stuff.
This is just me, might not be for everybody else, it's trying to get away from sports information for those two, two and a half, three months, whatever it might be for you, just to kind of give yourself a break from sports information.  To go 12 months straight, to get the detail some of us might get, that's a lot to ask for.  Then when you get back in the fall, you might feel like you got that break if you don't do some more sports information stuff in the summertime.
I've done some club coaching in the past to make some money.  I love coaching, working with kids.
DAVE WALTERS:  I got a couple more ideas to piggyback on that.  One, yesterday, I was sitting across the lunch table from John Litchfield.  He was telling me of a practice that apparently is common at some youth sport camps at college level.  It was his men's lacrosse coach came to him and said, Hey, there's a practice where these production companies will come in and provide highlight videos for the campers that they can take and send to prospective coaches.
John has a multimedia coordinator on his staff.  Before he hired that position, he himself handled a lot of video production work for the office.  The coach came to him and said, Hey, would you like to do this?  John went out and researched, looked around, saw that some of these places are charging upwards of $300 bucks a tape for some of these kids.  There's an opportunity to turn a few dollars working at a camp setting.
Summer league basketball, depending on where you are, if there is a real quality summer league program, maybe one where there are some NBA and big‑time college students who are participating, they may be organized and have need for statistical helpers.
Locally here in Greensboro, I've made a few dollars working All‑Star events, things like that.
Summer is also a great time to volunteer.  This didn't make any money per se, but if you're relatively new in the profession, you can find a sporting event that's close to you, whether it may be a NASCAR race, a USGA golf 70, a USTA tennis event, just contact whoever is in charge of media operations and say, I'm interested in sports information, relatively new to the profession, I'm in the area and would love to help out for a few days.  While that may not provide any money for your pocket, I think it would provide valuable experience and potential contacts that may help you as you advance your career.
ERIC McDOWELL:  That's great.  Minor league baseball I did one year and I truly enjoyed it.  I made sure to do only the official scorings on weeknights, you don't want to commit seven days a week for it.
Let's get to some more questions.
A lot of SIDs have earned money in umpiring and also stringing, of course, for a local paper, writing a weekly story for a weekly paper.  Can you talk about other ideas for the website for the summer.  They like the top 10 moments.  This group just released a new website and would like to drive traffic during the off‑season.  It's very challenging for us to do that.  Give us, each of you, a thought that pops into your head how to drive website traffic during the summer months.
DAVE WALTERS:  Something that pops into my mind right off is a Where Are They Now segment.  This would be something specific to your institution and your website where you go back and you identify some students of note who have competed for your institution in the past.  You track down and find out where they are and contact them.  Do a brief Q&A.  It doesn't need to be a full‑blown feature story, but do a brief Q&A, introduce what they did while they were students at your school, ask them what they're doing now.  You can ask them what their educational experience at your institution meant to them, ask them what they would say to today's current student‑athlete at said institution, get a current photo of them, whack it on your website, put it up there weekly.
You can probably exchange that information with your alumni office, maybe you can even get some editorial assistance from that office, as well.
AARON SAGRAVES:  It's ironic.  You took my idea, Dave.  We're actually starting that with a local website here that does a lot of high school stuff.
Another idea might be, last week I sent an email to all our coaches asking for what are their student‑athletes doing during the summer.  We know a lot of soccer players, baseball players, are playing in a lot of different leagues throughout the summer, whether it might be travel ball leagues, things like that.  I'm constantly asking my coaches, What are your student‑athletes doing during the summer?  I want to stay up on them.  If there's anything cool they're doing, we had a student‑athlete of ours, a men's golfer, qualify for the Michigan Open here in Michigan.  It's like the U.S. Open of Michigan, if you want to call it that.
We do try to be a little more balanced with that because that could get kind of out of control with 26 sports that we have, how many sports you might have.  You have to be a little bit selective of what you might put up there.  But it's always great to see what certain student‑athletes are doing throughout the summer.  Once you get the ball rolling a little bit, you get people out there during the summer, I knew Johnny was doing this, I'm doing the same kind of thing, can I get my information on there as well?  It always helps out, too, if you can plug that stuff through your Twitter and Facebook page, because that's what student‑athletes are on most during the summer.  They might not go to the website because they don't think there's a lot going on, but if you get that information on your Facebook page, it might plug them back into your website.
DAVE WALTERS:  My counterpart over at Methodist University, it's called Summer Profile.  If you go to MUMonarchs.com right now, the first thing that pops up is 25 questions with Brian Hockaday.  It's a straight up Q&A.  You can get students you know who are coming back for the next year, you have a ton of student‑athletes, you find out the very best ones, interesting ones, you can roll one out from a different sport, a different kid each day, every other day, so there's a steady stream of something fresh to post on your site.
ERIC McDOWELL:  I was going to touch on that.  It's low maintenance.  We've done a thing called, Nice to Meet You.  They have set questions, they respond in the email.  That is a tremendous thing to keep up to date.  The alumni office does stay in touch with people for giving.  It's good if they keep that site fresh.
This one came in.  Summertime work suggestion that I'd like to offer is that you create a database of your student‑athletes and their hometown media.  Then I tried to discover if they earned campus academic honors, something to begin a working relationship with their hometown media.
Thoughts on that one?
DAVE WALTERS:  That's great.  I have a composite list that I carry over from all of our hometown papers.  When I see a new student come in that identifies their hometown paper, I can run a find within that database and hopefully it's already there and I just need to copy and paste and insert the new student into that list, then I have it able to work with.
Academic honors are another great way to provide some fresh content and also information to put in your students' profiles, whether it may be from a coaches association, from a conference, or as the writer said, from your own institution there are certain academic awards that are definitely worth publicizing locally and to the student's hometown paper.
AARON SAGRAVES:  To keep the traffic on your website.  You have a lot of stories.  You might want to separate those out.  Right now you might have a lot of stories with honors, post‑season honors.  You may not want to do those all on the same day.  We've talked on our staff to space those out a little bit.  Right now you don't have game articles going up every day.  It gives you that time to share things.  It might cover a three‑ or four‑week span, trying to get those out there on your website.
ERIC McDOWELL:  We've talked about evaluating your value guys.  One thing that I think can be done prior to August or so is have an Excel master sheet a student would be assigned to, and you're putting down the hours you worked in the day.  It's almost like the Fred Flinstone Bedrock time clock with Dino.  For somebody that's looking to try to show the type of time put in, it will assist getting more students, more staff.  We know of seven instances where this has helped in staffing.
Just like your thought on that, a sheet or something you would have ready to go.  Conversely, also in a Word document, categories, so that every week you or a student or somebody would just add to that category of what just happened.  All of a sudden May 15th comes, you're doing your evaluation, and you don't have three pages typed out of things you accomplished, or you may not remember.  This is something that could be prepared and even train for a student.  Give us your thoughts on that before we get your final comments on the panel.
DAVE WALTERS:  I heard you make that presentation at a CoSIDA workshop a few years ago.  I was like, Man, that is awesome.  That's a great idea.  Unfortunately I'm not skilled enough to pull it off.  But if there are other people out there who are able to do that, to come up with some type of device to track what they're doing, that I think would be especially helpful not only for explaining your value to your superiors, but I think it would also be very informational to you as you take a look at how you're spending your time.  We may not realize that we've just spent three hours looking for this minuscule bit of information that in the overall scheme of things really isn't that important because we keep getting distracted.  To actually have documented how we spend our valuable time I think is very, very significant.
It's almost like, if you compare it to finances, the register in your checkbook, as it shows you where you're spending your money, likewise this document you suggest will show you where and how you're spending your time.  I think that can only make you a better professional.
AARON SAGRAVES:  I don't have much more to add to that so I'll turn it back to you.
ERIC McDOWELL:  Let's get some brief final comments, final thoughts, maybe a motivational pitch, if you will, to our members.  We'll start with Dave and then Aaron.
DAVE WALTERS:  There are a lot of things that you can do to better yourself in the summertime.  What's most important is that you take care of yourself personally, and that is taking time for vacation, doing it on your own terms, and take time for yourself professionally to make yourself a better professional.  That needs to be first and foremost.
There are a lot of ideas here that a lot of people can do.  I don't think any of them are nearly as important as taking care of yourself.  Get some rest, exercise, pursue hobbies, and do those things which are fun, because those things give life.  You really need that life as you go through the busyness and the very draining season that the typical life of a sports information director endures.
AARON SAGRAVES:  I would agree with Dave there.  I won't say all the same points.  Spend more time with your family, be home as much as you can, take time away from what you're trying to do throughout the year.
But another thing to add on to that, instead of saying the same point twice, is you know what's coming in August, in July, whatever month you might be getting that started.  A good thing is to plan ahead.
I'm kind of an overorganized freak when it comes to that staff.  I've already tackled a lot of the media guide stuff we'll be doing in the fall, some of the records, because I know how busy those first few weeks in August can be when all our student‑athletes and coaches come back on campus.  Then it goes from August 1 to June 1.  Just plan ahead.  That's probably one of the most important things you can do, set out a couple days, get a couple things done ahead of time so those first few weeks in August don't become such a hectic time.
The main thing is to take care of yourself, like Dave said, and reenergize yourself.
ERIC McDOWELL:  Dave and Aaron, this was outstanding, touched on a lot of bases, personally and professionally, it was excellent.  We thank you for a great session.
We want to thank our panelists, Dave Walters, Aaron Sagraves, for a tremendous wrap‑up to our continuing education series.  Thanks to you folks for listening.  We hope they've been informative.
Thanks again, everyone, for listening.  We appreciate your efforts.  We hope you do make the most of your summertime hours as well.  This is Eric McDowell from Union College saying, Have a great day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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