Sports Information Directors (SIDs) Ben Alkaly and Jeff Bowers act as the liason between athletes, coaches, and the media, among other tasks.
They work out of the media relations office and the Thunderdome, Campus Diamond or Harder Stadium, depending on the season. Alkaly, the assistant media relations director, oversees women’s volleyball and women’s basketball while Bowers, the media relations assistant, covers men’s and women’s soccer and softball. Bill Mahoney is responsible for men’s basketball while a student intern acts as SID for Gaucho baseball.
It is their responsibility to provide home and visiting press, fans and teams with information, be it in person on game day or on the website www.ucsbgauchos.com. The SIDs’ tasks range from writing press releases for the website, which many newspapers use, to ordering pizza on game days, managing team photos, and creating hype for players eligible for awards. However, there are no awards for the SIDs.
“You don’t get recognition of the public, but rather being able to write on behalf of the team and the appreciation of the team when you do your job well,” Bowers said. “There’s really no other position besides athletic trainer where you can get that connection.”
They establish that connection by working closely with the players and coaches, all of whom are on a first-name basis with Alkaly and Bowers. They have had the opportunity to travel with the teams to New York City, Connecticut, Arizona and more in the pursuit of playoff victories as part of the teams.
Bowers’ favorite moment as an SID was the Gaucho men’s soccer team’s first NCAA appearance, hosted by UCSB.
“I remember counting down the last 10 minutes two years ago, and we’re supposed to stay impartial, but I was trying to hold in my sheer joy,” Bowers said. “The teams are there to win, and being able to help that – it’s an adrenaline rush.”
Although sports at UCSB pale in comparison to the prestige and responsibilities of division one football, hosting rounds of the NCAA tournaments puts the media relations office on center stage.
“There was a two-to-three hour span that was a total blur and somehow it got done and everything ran fairly seamlessly and we received a lot of praise from visiting teams and the media after that tournament,” Alkaly said.
Alkaly and Bowers both graduated from UCSB with degrees in communication and minors in sports management. They started as interns in the same office where they now work as full-time SIDs. The media relations office offers internships to juniors and seniors. One student intern handles UCSB baseball while others split their time helping the office in a variety of tasks.
“It’s unique. Most schools would not entrust a whole sport like baseball to a student. It gives them real experience,” Alkaly said. “Our last two baseball interns went on to be full-time interns at UCLA and Cal State Northridge.”
Being an SID is a lot of work, but they enjoy it.
“You’re usually the first to arrive at an event and the last to leave. Most of what you write does not get a byline even though maybe it ought to,” Alkaly said. “But it’s not a bad gig.”