July 21, 2010

By Amy Farnum

The TCU athletics program has had its share of media attention over the last academic year, highlighted by the football team’s appearance in the Fiesta Bowl in January, and capped off by the Horned Frogs’ first-ever trip to the Men’s College World Series in June.

Most student-athletes acknowledge the extra buzz around their teams, but they may not realize the efforts that go into coordinating publicity for the program.  But women’s soccer standout Jackie Torda and wide receiver Curtis Clay have been learning what it takes to promote teams and student-athletes as interns in the media relations department over the last two summers.

Torda, an All-Mountain West Conference player, is majoring in advertising and public relations, and concentrates on writing articles such as student-athlete of the week for the department’s web site, tracking news coverage on TCU’s programs, and helping the staff track down bio information for teammates and fellow student-athletes.

“I’ve learned a lot from it and seen a lot of the things that I like to do or don’t like to do,” said Torda.  “I like being in sports because it is what I’ve grown up with.  I think this is a great learning experience and has taught me a lot about jobs that are out there.”

Like Torda, Clay is interested in working in the sports world, particularly in his area of study – broadcast journalism.  
“I always saw the media relations staff members out at our practices, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to see what it’s like on the other side of journalism,” said Clay.  “I would like to go into sports broadcasting … but if you want to contact the team you have to go through media relations.  I thought it would be very interesting to see the other side and it has been very valuable to me.”

Clay is producing a summer conversation video series for www.gofrogs.com, which features different student-athletes participating in fall sports. He is focusing on how they are spending their summers, their expectations for the upcoming season, and mixing it up with some fluffy questions like what they love most about TCU.

“We just want to give fans of TCU athletics another way of getting to know some of the student-athletes,” said Clay.
“Curtis is filling a very important role because we don’t have a video person on staff,” said TCU Athletics Media Relations Director Mark Cohen.  “He’s putting together these interviews, and that is an area we always we wanted to enhance.”

Although they are summer interns, Torda and Clay were able to experience TCU’s run to the College World Series as members of the media relations office.  They each also took a little time off to head to Omaha and sit in the stands to support their school’s baseball team.

“When we beat Texas to go to the College World Series, it was crazy around here,” said Clay.  “With all the media attention, the whole staff had to come together and work strictly on baseball just to manage all the attention we were getting.  I was told that it was very similar to how it was when the football team went to the Fiesta Bowl.  It’s really exciting being a student-athlete, a fan and working in the media relations office.”  

In addition to the communications and organizational skills Torda and Clay are learning, they each have expressed an interest in remaining connected to athletics.

“The athletics department is obviously something we’re interested in because it’s not just what we do, but we know all the people around it,” said Torda.

“I feel like my comfort zone is sports, and I think I would do a better job if I concentrated in sports,” said Clay.  “Having an athletic background, I think I will be able to relate to the players while interviewing them, and where I can take a question or where I can’t.”

Cohen agrees that the interns’ experiences as student-athletes are a plus in athletics media relations.

“They have that little intangible,” said Cohen.  “They’re sharp, hard-working, and personable and do a great job.”