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Home Features Behind Bulldog Athletics: From Volunteer to Director of Athletic Communications

by Savanah Baker


Director of Athletic Communications Jake Knabel has changed the face of Concordia’s athletic communication department since his appointment in 2012.

Knabel graduated in 2010 from the University of Iowa with majors in journalism and health and sports studies and began as a volunteer at Clark University in Dubuque, Iowa.

This position helped him secure an internship at the national office of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in Kansas City, Kansas, where he worked as a sports information intern. There he gained a national perspective on athletics and the function of sports information.

“I wasn’t at a school, so there wasn’t as much interaction with coaches and athletes, but I wrote releases every day and took notes and learned what goes on in a national office,” Knabel said.

Knabel was hired by Concordia as director of athletics communication in June 2012.

“People just assumed that I kept stats in this position, but another [Sports Information Director] once said ‘Nobody really compliments you for nice stats’, it’s all the other stuff that gets noticed,” Knabel said.

As Director of Athletics Information, Knabel is in charge of promoting Concordia’s athletic teams, emphasizing the positives of the department and getting stories out on athletic successes. This includes posts on the athletics website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

“Social media is fun because you get to be creative and engage with people,” he said. “I’ve made our coaches do things they didn’t have to before, like live interviews, reading their players’ tweets and other media types.”

Along with promoting current athletics, Knabel has taken the time to archive previous seasons of sports in order to facilitate easy access to old statistics and records.

“After improving the archives it’s a lot easier to go back and say ‘Okay, someone scored 35 points last night, is that a school record?’ which we wouldn’t have known or been able to do before I got here,” Knabel said.

Knabel’s work in the athletic department has not only impacted him and the coaches, but the athletes as well.

“The thing that I like now is that when athletes come in now, they expect to be interviewed and see coverage on the website no matter what sport it is, which I don’t think was necessarily an expectation before I was here,” Knabel said.

In four years, Knabel managed to exceed expectations for his position.

“The biggest change is the way athletes are covered here now,” he said. “I’ve heard from some athletes who were juniors and seniors when I started here that they didn’t even know who their SID or director of athletic communications was. Which, if you’re a high-profile athlete or All-American, you should know who your SID is.”

All the changes Knabel implemented did not go unnoticed. At the end of the 2014-15 school year, he was awarded the Great Plains Athletic Conference Sports Information Director of the Year.

“It was the first time the GPAC had the award, so it was cool to be the first one to win it,” Knabel said. “However, the year we had athletically played a role in that. You’ll get more exposure when you have teams winning like we did. I’m thankful for the athletes we had that helped Concordia stand out.”

Knabel said many people in his position told him it was a thankless job, but he has not experienced that since being at Concordia.

“It surprised me how much people noticed that I did well here,” he said. “People are quick to compliment. We have a very positive atmosphere in the athletic department and university.”


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