I can’t believe I’m holding their title. It’s a dream come true thanks to the work of lots of people who put the time and effort into making sure I was ready for this. If I can continue to find success and be happy in the industry, then I believe I am exactly where I need to be.
Assistant Director of Athletics Communications
Oklahoma State University
The interview with Patrick Osborne was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
1Tell us about your role as the Assistant Director of Athletics Communications for Oklahoma State University Athletics and what does a typical day look like for you?
That’s usually the first question I get when someone finds out what I do – so I’ll give the usual answer.
There is no typical day in my job. Sounds great, right? Each day brings a new task, a new assignment and new opportunity.
Sure, some things will never change. There will always be press releases to write, roster maintenance and bios to write, stats to keep and archive, photos to log, interviews to help set up, etc.
But in general, no two game days look exactly the same just as no “normal” Monday looks like the next one. There are new social media strategies to take on, new ideas to formulate, and new feature story ideas to tackle.
With all the news, the constants of the job look as such:
Website upkeep (Rosters are up to dates, stats, media/credential information, feature stories, previews/recaps, etc.)
Statistic upkeep (Scoring our games, checking for accuracy, logging for historical purposes)
Media relations (Helping facilitate interview requests, working with the local and national media on story ideas to help promote our teams, securing credential requests and making sure to be a good host – such as making WIFI, power and a working area is in good working order)
Historian (Making sure all stories, photos, videos and notes are properly logged and kept for future generations)
Social media (Outside of our website duties, our work with social media the most vocal and public part of our job)
And that’s the beauty of the job. We’re writers, sometimes creatives. We’re historians who live in the new age. We’re scorers, but we’re also a sounding board for our student-athletes and coaches.
2Based on your education and your experience, it seemed like you knew early on that you wanted to work in the sport industry. Tell us how that came about and what has kept you going so far.
I always knew I’d work in sports. I grew up playing a little bit of everything but knew by about middle school I wasn’t going to be good enough to make a living on the field or court.
By high school, I had a choice to make. I grew up in an Oklahoma family – so everyone assumed that was the easy choice (so did I, truthfully).
But there was the other school, Oklahoma State. They had this sports media program I kept hearing about, and I had to see it for myself. I knew about 5 minutes into my tour I was going to be a Cowboy. And from there my path was set.
I wanted to be a journalist. Just like every kid who grew up around sports, I wanted to work for ESPN. It was the dream.
It wasn’t until sophomore year of college that things would change when my future boss, Gavin Lang, came and talked to one of my sports media classes. He wanted to talk athletics communications.
It was the first time I had even heard of an SID. I thought it sounded really cool, but I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it.
I was a shy, not overly confident student who sat in the back and went about his day trying to not be noticed. But sure enough, after class that day my professor emailed me and let me know he thought I should apply.
A day later I did, and two weeks later I was hired to start the fall of my junior year. The rest, as they say, is history.
3Having worked in communications and public relations roles since graduating from Oklahoma State University in 2017, what brought you to this side of the industry (communications and PR) instead of the media side?
The thrill of the job.
I love being part of a team and getting to showcase all the great things about my alma mater and a program (men’s basketball) that means the world to me.
There’s no greater joy in life than the opportunity to help others shine and tell their story.
4If someone wants to be successful in communications and public relations, what do you think are the three most important skills or attributes they need to have and why?
They must be humble, never let the ego get in the way. Our job isn’t about the spotlight, it’s about moving the spotlight to others. We work for our student-athletes, coaches, and athletic department. It isn’t about us. Our best days are the days nobody knew we were there. Our success is our team or athletic department’s success, and that’s always been enough for those of us in the industry.
They must have an engine. Anyone who works in sports knows it’s not always glamorous. There will be long hours, very few days off at times and lots of assignments thrown your way. Mistakes will always happen, but if your coaches/bosses see you’re giving your best effort, they will never fault you.
They must know when enough is enough. The grind is real, as I said in the second answer. But the most successful people in our industry are the ones who know when they need that day off, time to unwind and recharge. Don’t be afraid. There’s this message around sports that people who take time for themselves aren’t hardworking or don’t care. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Find time to invest in yourself. The results will thank you later.
5Who in the sports industry do you look up to and why? And how has this person inspired you to pursue this career path?
This is a tough question. I’ve had some wonderful mentors over my time, and I give any success I’ve had to them.
Stephen Howard took a chance on a first-year student my junior year of college and let me help him with men’s basketball.
Gavin Lang, my boss as a student and today, took a chance on me that year as well and gave me my first shot at being the lead on a sport with softball.
Chris Deal spent the next two years helping me survive those first couple seasons on softball – even while balancing his duties as football’s director of creative services.
Nobody has played a bigger role in my career, though, than Matt Freed.
Matt was my oversight and mentor during my time at South Carolina. It was my first job out of school, and I thought I knew everything. Shoot, I had just done softball for two years at a Big 12 school and survived!
I very quickly learned I didn’t know everything and had tons to learn.
Matt was patient the whole time and made me a far better SID than the one he got when Carolina hired me.
He trusted me every step of the way, even when it probably would have been easier at times to step in. He let me learn, he helped me learn and he shaped a lot of what I do today. But more importantly, he made me a better person.
Now that I find myself in a leadership role like his, I’ve tried to model my oversite style after his so I will end it here because I could speak for days on all the things he’s done for me.
If we had more SIDs like Matt, the industry would be a far better place.
6What do you eventually aim to become in the sports industry?
Truthfully, I’m not sure.
I never imagined at 27 I’d be the men’s basketball SID at my alma mater. The same office held by some of the best SIDs our industry has ever known (Mike Noteware, Stephen Howard, Will Hancock – just to name a few)?
I can’t believe I’m holding their title. It’s a dream come true thanks to the work of lots of people who put the time and effort into making sure I was ready for this.
If I can continue to find success and be happy in the industry, then I believe I am exactly where I need to be.