Vassar sports would not be what they are today without the behind-the-scenes work of the Athletic Communications Department. Headed by Director Jamie Chagnon, the department works to tell the stories of over 500 varsity student athletes on Vassar’s campus and enhance their overall experience.
Chagnon explained, “The primary responsibility of Athletics Communications [is] to disseminate information to members of both the print and electronic media as well institutions that Vassar competes against. Among Athletics Communications’ many varied duties are press/media relations, editorial releases and feature stories, game and special event programs, newsletters, statistical maintenance and record keeping, web-content management and collaborative work with Vassar’s Office of Communications.”
Vassar Athletics covers a vast range of teams and conferences at the Division III level as a member of the Liberty League, United Volleyball Conference and Seven Sisters.
The department is always going through growth and development. The latest being the hiring of Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Tiana Aument. Aument is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. and has worked closely with various forms of sports media throughout her time in college.
She will replace Keith Sneddon, who left the department in November to pursue a Division I communications opportunity at the University of Maryland. Athletic Director Michelle Walsh commented on Sneddon’s time at Vassar, stating, “He made many valuable contributions to the department and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
Although she only finished school this past December, Aument already has a wealth of experience. She served as a staff writer for the USF Oracle, covering basketball, baseball, football, soccer and volleyball. Aument also contributed to the local Tampa Tribune and 24/7 sports publications. A mass communications major, she worked at Bulls Radio, training volunteers on technical aspects of the production process and would produce up to four sporting events a week.
She also helped broadcast and record studio shows and sport updates. She was also a student representative on the Diversity committee from Oct. 14 until her graduation. Aument began her work this past January and looks to contribute to the expanding communications department.
Walsh highlighted some of the department’s recent accomplishments, explaining, “In the short time I’ve been here, the Athletic Communications Office has spearheaded a website redesign, created new game day programs, and enhanced our game coverage through post game interviews. They continually seek new ways to promote the accomplishments of our talented student-athletes.”
The department has made a conscious effort to improve upon its existing resources, particularly social media. Chagnon has made this a primary goal of his since he started at Vassar in 2013, highlighting his involvement on Twitter and Instagram.
The Vassar Athletics Twitter (@VassarAthletics) has been extremely active as of late, posting links to articles on the Athletics website, coining hashtags like “#BrewUp” and giving up to the minute updates on Vassar sporting events. Various other Twitter accounts have also been started to represent individual Vassar teams. Many times these are run by athletes on the teams themselves. The account currently has just under 1,400 followers.
The Vassar Athletics Instagram account has been equally as successful, but benefits from being able to post in-game highlights that reflect the school’s newly renovated digital brand. Posts summarize each game or competition throughout the Vassar Athletics community.
They offer scores and key statistics, as well as the date and location of the event. The page also highlights Athletes of the Week and provides links to the newly renovated website.
All of Vassar Athletics’ digital content is streamlined to the site, which recently got a sleek makeover this past year that features a drop-down menu that separates sports by team and provides an updated list of statistics, schedules and game recaps.
Chagnon also believes that equal coverage is extremely important. “We’ve tried to improve our coverage of all 27 teams by showing equal coverage. The video part of what we do has improved I believe, in doing highlight videos and also webcasting a vast majority of our events,” he continued. These 27 teams include not only the 23 varsity squads, but also Vassar’s four varsity club sports–the rugby and rowing teams.
Aument’s prior experience both in and out of the classroom will vastly help the growing department. She served as a student leader for New Student Connections at USF, helping new students connect to the University through the Sports Network.
Her experience dealing with students will be beneficial to the growth of the department. “An already strong writer, Tiana will look to also improve some of our video production and video highlight packages along with her other duties,” explained Chagnon.
Aument’s past writing experience is also marked by her time volunteering at Florida Focus. While there, she helped direct and produce shows while working with graphic and video design.
The department has had an assistant director for the past seven years. Aument’s arrival is much needed given the demands of the position. “The demand that 27 sports puts on the Athletic Communications Director, having an assistant to balance the work flow and assist in everyday duties is vital. In comparison, Vassar has the most sports in the Liberty League, but only two full-time workers in the office, one of just three schools with only two full time SID professionals,” Chagnon divulged.
Aument’s experience and enthusiasm make her the ideal candidate. “Tiana brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the position; her degree in mass communications has further prepared her with the necessary skill set to engage Brewer fans in a variety of media channels,” explained Walsh.
Chagnon has some major goals he wants to have accomplished in the near future at Vassar and Aument will be vital in helping them come into fruition. “I’d love to see our webcasting operation take the next step into multiple camera productions, with the possibility of doing instant replay as well. I also would like at some point to be able to hire another person in charge of video production and highlights, and another goal of mine is getting to the point where we are considered the best Athletic Communications office in this conference, and among the best in the nation. I think we are close, professionally speaking.”
Chagnon also hopes to dip a bit more into the marketing aspect of the sporting events themselves to get more spectators to events on campus. “We have amazing student-athletes here on campus, and I really wish that we’d have a little bigger crowds to see our teams,” he added. Chagnon hopes to see Vassar move up the ladder in the Liberty League and become perennial championship contenders in all sports.
The department is also working on its branding of the athletics department, putting up banners in facilities so as to visually celebrate the accomplishments of Vassar’s student-athletes both past and present.
“The facilities will look very different next year with the projects we have currently going, and hopefully if they come to fruition, our student-athletes will love the new look that we have for them at venues, online, on social media and in print. It’s an exciting time to be at Vassar for sure,” he concluded.
Aument is stepping into the world of Vassar Athletics at a time characterized by rapid change. With multiple sports on the rise and a breadth of quality athletes, facilities and programming, her experience will only help further build the Athletic Communications Department and Vassar Athletics in general.
Chagnon put it best, saying “I think her excitement and fervor for sports in general has me excited about her being with us. Though she hadn’t worked with an Athletic Communications office before, but she has come to Vassar committed to learning the business. She has a high learning curve, but I’m excited about her progress through just three weeks.”