Chagnon an intermediary between athletics, public

After being hired this summer as the new Athletic Communications Director, Northern Virginia native Jamie Chagnon has become a driving force behind Vassar Athletics, taking charge of the student-athlete’s image to observers. Constantly working behind the lens, in the press box during games and via the Athletics website, Chagnon seeks to input more information than ever and pay particular attention to the student-athlete as an individual.

Chagnon, who majored in Sports Management at Lynchburg College, has always been a dedicated athlete and sports fanatic. “Sports have always been important in my family — my parents were always big sports fans,” Chagnon recalled. “It was a real bonding thing for [my grandfather and I]. We would read the newspaper and look at the box scores so it was always in my blood.”

Chagnon has also played baseball, golf, football and hockey. “Recreationally I play anything,” he said. “Playing has gotten me to the point where I understand sports.”

Chagnon’s understanding of the game also comes from his work off the field. His interest in sports management began in high school, where he announced women’s basketball games and cultivated his work with public address. The interest carried over into Lynchburg. “Once I got to college, my student mentor knew the Sports Information Director at Lynchburg…I started P.A. announcing for Lynchburg and I wanted one more responsibility and it kind of just grew from there.” After Lynchburg, he stayed on board as an assistant.

For two years during his time as an assistant, he took a brief hiatus to take an internship in Las Vegas. “When I was in Las Vegas, it was kind of on a whim. It was an experience that I wanted to have,” he said. “A lot of people are hesitant about getting crazy and going somewhere different, and that’s not how I am. I feel like you need to have the life experience to mold you.”

Chagnon worked as a Sports Information intern at the Division I University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “I saw that side of it, the Division I side, and I think it prepared me in terms of seeing what that was like, and seeing that people actually put DI athletes on a pedestal. But they’re just 18-21 year-old kids…while athletics are a big part of their life, they’re still students just like anyone else.”

Chagnon also worked as a DataCast Stringer for the MLB before taking on Sports Information as a full-time job. “If you’re watching Major League Baseball game, there are livestats…but it’s very intricate. It’s got where the pitch is, how fast the ball comes in and the degree of break on a curveball, and it shows where the ball is hit,” he explained. “You get to sit in the press box of Major League Baseball games, pretty much every night, and be around beat writers and people that are important in baseball. I’m a huge Orioles fan, so being able to work at Camden Yards and see people every day that I grew up watching play baseball — it was a great experience for me. It’s cool to say that I’ve done it.”

Chagnon took on his first Sports Information Director position at Randolph College. “[Randolph] was 13 teams, a small school, so it really helped me transition to being a head SID and implementing a lot of what I wanted to do, my vision. “ While at Randolph, Chagnon was named 2012 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Sports Information Director of the Year. In 2011 he was the Conference’s Secretary, and in 2013, he was the Sports Information Director President. Chagnon, however, is not overly concerned with these titles. “The awards…it’s nice to have,” he said. “It’s nice to say that you got them, but I think the interactions and the experience I had with my colleagues when I was there and with the student-athletes — and obviously the awards my student-athletes got — were more important for me.”

The student body at Randolph provided Chagnon with a new viewpoint. “When I was at Lynchburg, it was all Athletics. People don’t think like that at Randolph. Athletics are important, but it’s also academically driven,” he said. After working in this atmosphere, Vassar seemed like an ideal place for Chagnon.

Despite this, Chagnon wasn’t looking for a job when he came across Vassar. “I played baseball with [Varsity Baseball Head Coach Jon Martin] in college, so I saw the opening,” he said. “I gave him a call…and he was pretty much saying that this place was awesome. The students are at the next level, the student-athletes are great — they make you think — the student worker group is top notch, the area is fantastic,” Chagnon explained. “Things worked out that I got an on-campus interview and came up here and really enjoyed it. I think that when I was here…it was just right. It felt like a great fit to me.”

Sports Information Assistant Chris Boswell noted how well Chagnon has fit in with Vassar Athletics so far. “The department has taken to Jamie with a lot of enthusiasm. They are excited with all of the new ideas he brings with him and they know that the direction he wants to go in is going to raise the bar at Vassar College,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “In the short while since I’ve known Jamie, I can already call him more than a boss. His skills in video, social media, design, writing, public address announcing and overall management of our office are above the rest.”

Chagnon echoed Boswell’s sentiments on office dynamic. “I have a very good relationship with Chris, and I think the work that he does is fantastic,” he said. “He’s in tune with the students, with our athletes. He’s really what you want in an assistant.”

This year, Chagnon’s duties at Vassar include the input of website content, game statistics, online stories, videos, photographs, posters and promotions. “Our job is to promote the student-athlete, especially on the smaller level.  We don’t have media doing that for us. I don’t have ESPN calling to talk to a basketball player all the time…it’s our job to promote our student-athletes to the community,” he said. “Every student has a story to tell. There are stories that people might not know about, so it’s our job to get them out there.”

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