By Shaun Chornobroff
Sports Communications Director has been Greg Ott’s position at Rider since 2016; he might work behind the scenes, but Ott’s year-round responsibilities still make him crucial to Rider athletics.
“On a day-to-day basis it’s just promoting our student-athletes… in normal time, there are games going on. So, leading into a season you’re doing your season preview type things, and making sure players’ bios are up to date on the website,” Ott said. “You’ll have preseason polls and preseason awards.”
“Once the season is up and running you’re previewing the games on the website,” Ott explained. “Once the games start, you oversee stat keeping at the games, we oversee clock operations… scoreboard, social media. We work with Chris Foster, our assistant athletic director for digital media, so we’ll have a feed of the video that’s coming through… So he’s able to push a feed to us, and we’re able to very easily cut up highlights to go on social media.”
“Once the game ends it’s facilitating interviews… for when media outlets need to talk to a coach or player in the immediate aftermath of the game. And then it’s writing our own recap, putting that on the website. Working cooperatively with Chris Foster and his staff, to make sure that the video highlights get attached to the recap and any media that’s not at the game, we’re trying to email them the results, so if they want to pick up the story, they can,” Ott said.
Being the sports communication director at a Division I school is not easy, but Ott comes in with a variety of experiences that have helped him take the job in stride.
Ott was the intern associate for athletic communications at Iowa State University, where he was in charge of the visitors’ press conferences through the football season. Having such an important role at a power-five program gave Ott insight he still carries to this day.
“In the immediate aftermath of a game, all bets are off, you are either dealing with coaches who are ecstatic they won the game or crushed they lost a heartbreaker,” Ott said of his time at Iowa State. “To be able to step in and say why don’t you take another moment or two before you go into this press conference, collect yourself. It’s not very often you have to do that, but it stuck with me, that the difference between putting the best foot forward, being really classy walking into a press conference and walking in there with a little too much fluster, a little too much anger, could be a minute of calming down and collecting yourself.”
Prior to working at Rider, Ott was employed by fellow Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) school Monmouth University. There he assisted in Monmouth’s launch of ESPN3 — Rider launched a similar program in 2018 and he’s held a familiar role.
“My role at both places has been similar, I haven’t really been in the trenches with it,” Ott said of his work with ESPN3. “There were a couple of other people at Monmouth who took the lead on that, and anyway I could help I would.”
“It’s the same thing at Rider. Chris Foster does the majority of the ESPN3 stuff, and it’s anything I can do to help,” Ott said.
Even Ott’s college days at Springfield College helped prepare him for his current position. Ott was a sports journalism/communications major, and even the chief editor of his school paper, but after his bachelor’s degree, he took a job as the sports information graduate assistant at Quinnipiac University “because it was what’s available,” unsuspectingly putting himself on his current career path. It’s not the path Ott expected, but one he’s more than content with.
“It’s a lot more exciting than sitting at a desk Monday to Friday, nine to five,” Ott said. “You’re working a lot of nights, a lot of weekends… You’re doing something you love, so it makes work easier in that respect.”
“I like working for a university,” Ott said of his journalism background, which he says helps him write game recaps. “It makes me feel a little bit more part of the team. I think when you’re writing for a newspaper it’s a weird dynamic, but I think having personal relationships with the players, being on their team, having relationships with the coaches, administrators, it’s maybe a little easier than having that relationship where something bad happens and you have to go report on it… You feel like you’re on the same team with them a little bit more.”
Ott is a crucial part of the Rider athletics team, and Rider’s Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations and Development and Senior Women’s Administrator Karin Torchia emphasizes his importance to the school.
“Sports information is the first line of communication for any athletic department, so it’s imperative that the person in the position is able to communicate effectively both verbally and in written form,” Torchia said. “[Ott] has those skills and is able to disseminate information quickly and effectively in any type of situation, whether it’s writing post-event stories or something that affects our entire department on a much more serious scale like we’re dealing with now in the midst of COVID-19 and having our spring sports seasons canceled.”
Torchia even recalls moments during the softball season when the team had home games and the department was understaffed, but Greg’s ability to multitask shined through.
“I’ve seen him be the PA announcer, keep the scorebook, do the computer stats and post to our social media accounts during the same game and that takes serious level-headedness and organization,” she said.
Sports have been Ott’s livelihood, when he wasn’t working in sports, he was watching sports, and his position at Rider has allowed him to work in sports, something he describes as “the toy department of life.”