by Diana Petrovich, Staff Writer
On October 11, Saint Vincent College displayed its most recent remodeling, more virtual than physical: a new athletic department website. Sports Information Director Jeff Zidek said it was time for a change.
“I have always thought that our website was one of the best around as far as content, but we needed a better, newer look,” said Zidek.
The SVC athletic department decided to implement the upgrade with the help from an outside source, Sidearm, a company that specializes in sports information. Based out of Syracuse, New York, Sidearm is responsible for over 400 schools’ athletic websites around the country, including NCAA Division I schools like Syracuse University and fellow President Athletic Conference schools (NCAA DIII) such as Waynesburg University and Theil College.
“Sidearm has become the leader in college sports websites…it’s all they do,” Zidek remarked.
Perhaps the most noticeable changes in the website’s upgrade are the visual ones – the look of the website is completely different.
“The old athletic website was modeled after the school website,” said Jim Berger, Assistant Sports Information Direction.
Along with a change in graphics and layout, the new website contains larger, clearer photographs, including a main page five-story slideshow, and sport-specific slideshows on every team’s page.
“The new page is easier to navigate,” Berger added, “It looks more professional, too. We have already gotten a lot of compliments on it. Upgrading was a sort of ‘keeping up with the Benjamins’ process.”
Berger remarked that most of the time spent on creating the new website was devoted to re-archiving stories, photographs, and statistics from the old website. The contract for the new site with Sidearm, signed in July, was completed only after several tedious hours of transferring the information from the old site to the new.
“Believe it or not, we had over 3,000 pages on the old athletic site. It took a lot of work to get as much of it copied over as we did. Everything had to be redone basically from scratch,” said Zidek. Berger and Zidek credit two hard-working work study students with helping complete the transfer of information: freshman Abby Geisel and sophomore Ethan Ross, who also plays for the SVC hockey team.
Despite the process of manually updating the new website with old archives, Berger praised the upgrade.
“It’s not only easier for viewers, but it’s easier for us updating it. The new athletic website can upload different files types than the old site did, and it can upload them faster,” said Berger. Upgraded file types include .pdf, photo slideshows, and easy Excel and Word document transfers.
The new athletic website is more than just a superficial or convenience upgrade. Having a navigable and attractive athletic website is important for SVC on many levels.
“First off, it helps recognize our athletes who represent the school,” said Berger. “Second, it helps keep alumni, family, and friends who may live out-of-town updated. Thirdly, it helps our coaches’ recruiting processes, which in turn helps our teams and admissions.”
Zidek added, “Perhaps the most important aspect of that is the recruiting part. High school students are obviously well versed when it comes to the web. Having a good website really helps the coaches in that respect.”
In addition to the new website upgrade, the Sports Information Department has another separate, yet important, new tool. Already broadcasting audio of select sports since 2001, the department has recently signed a contract with Meridix Webcasting, allowing them to begin video broadcasting of football and volleyball.
“We also plan to do live video webcasting of all home basketball games and all home men’s lacrosse games this year, along with audio of many home and road games for various other sports,” said Zidek.
Whether looking at archived stories and slideshows on the new website or watching video of a game online, dedicated athletes, fans, perspective students, alumni, and perhaps even rival opponents will all benefit from the progressive changes being made in towards broadcasting and communicating sports information at SVC.