In The Locker Room with Mike Mancini, Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications

Mike Mancini came to Oberlin College after being appointed as the Sports Information Director on Dec. 31, 2007. Now, as Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications, he keeps statistics and publishes previews and recaps for all 21 varsity teams at Oberlin on GoYeo, the Athletic Department’s website.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you end up at Oberlin? What do you do?

I’ve been here for 10 years now. I graduated from the University of Akron and then was working down at the University of North Florida. Then I went back to Akron to get my Master’s [degree], and the Oberlin job became open, and I’ve been here for over 10 years. I’m basically the Oberlin athletics public relations guy. I manage GoYeo; do all of the press releases with my assistant, Michael Durkin; keep all the statistics at all the home games; oversee the videos — any type of communications effort comes from our office. Our job is to promote our student-athletes.

What inspired you to get into sports communications?

My undergrad is in mass media communications, so in college I did a lot of radio and TV stuff. I went that route, and obviously that’s a very tough route to get into professionally. I didn’t really know much about sports information and athletic communications at the time, but when I was graduating and went to Florida Atlantic, they needed someone to do the play-by-play for women’s basketball on the radio as an internship, so I went down there and figured out what this stuff was all about. From a big-scale perspective, there are so many aspects of this job, like providing information to the media. When you’re watching a game at a Division I level or a bigger level, it’s like, “Well, how did the announcer know that?” That [information] would come from my office. That would come from someone in athletics communications or sports information. How do the broadcasters prepare for the game? How are they getting their information? That would all come from our office. That’s how I figured out about this industry a little bit more.

GoYeo was recently upgraded into a more appealing and accessible site. What were the motivations behind the changes?

We did a redesign, and that’s just to keep up with the latest trends that you’ll see on websites. Our website now, in the latest redesign, is a responsive website, which means it will look the same on your tablet and phone — any device you have — instead of having a separate mobile website. The website now is more mobile-friendly, which is a big thing. We have a little bit of a video component on there. We also wanted to promote our “Storytellers” and our “Athletes Among Us” videos a little bit more. We made those [features] more visible — brighter and more visible. We’re just trying to find the best way to showcase all the information that makes it easy for someone’s mom and dad or grandma and grandpa to follow along and find the information they’re looking for in a clean, easy type of web layout.

What are your favorite parts of the job? How have you been able to connect to coaches and student-athletes?

Obviously it’s sports, and it’s fun — that’s what keeps you in it. The hours are long. I’m here when the games are. It’s not just one team or two teams — we’re here for all [21] varsity teams that we have. It can get busy, but it’s fun — It’s not like I’m digging ditches. I think that’s what keeps you around. It’s a college athletic scene; what’s not to like about that? That’s what we’re all kind of here for, and I think that’s why I do what I do.

Connecting with athletes and coaches is kind of like when you get that ‘thank you’ — when they’re appreciative. Sometimes people — a lot of first-years — will come in and have no idea what GoYeo is or who is doing this or that. Building those relationships over those four years with student-athletes is pretty cool. For someone who might arrive as a freshman, they might have no idea who I am. Then by the time they leave, they’re like, “Hey, Cini, what’s going on?” We’re talking about whatever, and it’s like we’ve built a type of friendship with some of the student-athletes you get to cover and see. That’s a pretty cool thing, and I think they learn to respect you. It keeps you young and in the mix a little bit.

You’ve been here for over a decade. What are a couple of your favorite memories? Some of the best games, events, or stories you’ve had the honor of covering?

Baseball winning their first [North Coast Athletic Conference] Championship [in 2015] was pretty cool. That’s one of the teams I’m pretty close with. That was really fun. Just recently, the women’s basketball playoff run was really awesome, and I got to go to the NCAA Tournament with them. Every year I get to travel to Tucson with the baseball team, which is a good opportunity to get out of the cold weather and do all that stuff. My assistant usually goes [to Florida] with softball, and it’s not exactly a break week for us, but it’s fun. I would say those for sure, and then obviously the success we’ve had in track and field and cross country has been fun to cover. What Coach Appenheimer and that program has been able to sustain over the years has been pretty remarkable.

I just think there is a lot of hard work that a lot of people don’t necessarily see that goes into what our coaches do and what our staff does and everything that kind of makes this place go. Over my 10 years, there has been an upward trend. All of the teams have just gotten better and better. It’s a lot more writing about winning now than it was when I first started, and I think that’s pretty cool.