Denise Archetto has been with Stonehill College since August 2016. She earned three awards last season (2017-18) from the USTFCCCA, AVCA and CoSIDA, for her coverage of the Stonehill cross country and volleyball programs, as well as for the department's graphic design expertise. Prior to Stonehill, Denise spent time at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Amateur Sports Foundation. She received her undergraduate degree from Lasell College and a master's degree from Endicott College.
What got you into sports information? How did you get started?
DA: As some sports information directors have explained to me "it all happened by mistake." Going into college my mind told me that I was going to be an athletic trainer and I wasn't quite sure what it entailed since we didn't have an athletic trainer in high school. I did know, however that I wanted to be involved in sports. It didn't matter at what level in my eyes. So, the summer prior to my freshman year at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, my dad explained to me that I had work study on my account for school and I could get a job on campus. As a softball student-athlete I wondered how this would get done, but that apparently helped me be the professional that I am now.
I quickly learned that there was event staff for each home varsity contest and I thought it would be the perfect fit since I loved watching and being part of athletics. I went to the meeting and learned that they would be looking for statisticians. As a freshman I had no clue what this was, but my aunt had told me that she used to do that when she was younger … she meant that she did the (score) book for basketball teams. I thought – cool, why not? I went up to the athletic director, Kristy Walter, and the sports information director at the time, Janice Coppolino, and said I would be interested in learning. Before I knew it they had put me in front of a computer during a soccer game, then at field hockey, and then at volleyball, being supervised by some awesome seniors that had been doing it for quite some time. My fingers moved with ease and I liked being in front of a computer while watching a game.
Now, while adapting to a new job, being a student-athlete, and taking the hardest classes for the hardest major on campus, I was also working clinical hours with our athletic trainer, Chris Troyanos, to a) make sure I was willing to continue the process and b) learn as much as I could from the best. It turns out my work study was more fun that my clinical hours. The summer heading into sophomore year, I switched my major to sport management and was part of that large percentage that always switches their major during their collegiate career (something I didn't want to be a part of, but it turned out to be the right move). I continued my education and picked up some extra cash working at different schools, while also building relationships with SIDs around Massachusetts and finding my passion in athletics.
What is the best part of the profession?
DA: I could honestly give a list of the best parts of the profession. For me, the relationships you build with not only the student-athletes, but everyone from your institution, other SIDs across the board, and your student workers … those event staff that didn't know what they were getting themselves into … is the best part of the job. I see this job as 50 percent in the office, 50 percent on the field or traveling; if I was stuck in an office all day not interacting with people I think I would go crazy. Being able to give back to athletics has always been on my mind and knowing what the student-athletes are going through keeps me going and wanting to help them. Whether it is the conferences that we can go to, playoff games traveling to, or just a night out with the local SIDs, there isn't a dull moment and you know you are welcome into the family that has been created.
Who are some mentors that you learned from and what are some lessons they taught you?
DA: This could be another list, but I will try to keep it short. The first group of mentors would be the SIDs that I worked for during my undergraduate career: Janice Coppolino, Todd Montana, Emily Machado. All three taught me that this profession is a tough one and you must be ready to react whenever possible. They all taught me how to manage an event by myself, from everything including pre-game, in-game and post-game, whether it was StatCrew related, setting up tents, electrical cords, having a piece of paper and pen ready, or just clearly telling your peers what was expected of them during the game. They taught me how post-game involved breakdown of the event, writing a recap, calling in the scores.
Another group of mentors would include the core group of upperclassmen that guided me through StatCrew during my freshman year. They taught me to be patient, while also being on your toes. Some of them are still in the business today include Olivia Coiro, Catie Prince and Jason Oliveira. I would round out my mentors with the initial group of SIDs that worked with me right after my undergraduate days. These would include Tim Williamson, Andrew Chesebro, Allison (Miller) Fossner, Brock Malone, Zach Reynolds, and of course my former co-intern Meg Kelly — all from Harvard University. They guided me through the ins and outs of being in Division I and being the full-time contact of my own sports. I learned different writing skills, organization skills, technical skills with Adobe products, time management, and working with great student-athletes who went on to compete in the Olympics.
What is the most memorable event or memory from your young SID career?
DA: Another list …. but to touch on the first event that I traveled to. In my Harvard career, I was lucky enough to travel to the first round of the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska. The student-athletes and coaches knew me since I had helped at each of their games during the season to get a handle on how Harvard volleyball matches went, but we weren't as close as I was with my primary teams. Luckily each one of them welcomed me with open arms and soon realized that I would follow them just about everywhere with a camera. I oversaw not only being their SID for the trip, but also I recorded the trip since it was the program's first appearance in an NCAA tournament.
Once we arrived, we were all hungry, but the coaches were determined to get some work done so I went with the team to Chipotle and that's when the real fun started. Just about all of them were my height or taller so it was fun looking up to student-athletes that were a year younger than you, but what was really fun was the moment when they all decided to ask me 20 questions, involving my age, where I'm from, how I got in the business, favorite team, etc. The first question was "so…how old are you?" I let them guess and they all said older than my age at the time, 22 … shock hit them. That's when we all first connected, with the fact that I had wanted to get Chipotle with them. From then on, they would continuously scream my name "D-nice" from the Key and Peele skit and tell me to turn the camera on to capture the moment.
The things I took away from this trip: the team's resiliency going up against Nebraska, the No. 4 team in the nation; newly formed friends; the intensity of an NCAA Tournament and what is put into it all including preparation (during the event and after), tweeting and putting together a video montage for the team to remember forever; and lastly, a selfie that will last a life time and is still floating around the team since the freshman class on that team is now graduating. Now, every NCAA event that I am part of or go to, chills go down my spine because of the initial moment that this team made me remember.
Another moment would include this past Spring 2018 semester and the summer when I received three awards including the track and field USTFCCCA Excellence in Communications Award for Division II, a CoSIDA citation for excellence in communications for one of the graphics that we did during the year (8th in the nation in Division II), and the AVCA Grant Berger Media Award for the East Region for coverage of the volleyball program this past year.
How long have you been in the business? What year is this for you, where have you worked before and for how long?
DA: If I include my four years at Lasell College, I would say that I am entering my eighth year in the business. Without the four years, I would be beginning my fourth year. Throughout my collegiate years, I helped other local colleges and universities with stats and was able to connect with new people, including the staff at Harvard University. After helping them out a couple of times, they told me about their paid internship, where you can continue to learn about the profession at a great institution while you continue your education at any college. I decided to go for my masters right after Lasell College and took on the masters of education in athletic administration at Endicott College's Van Loan School which was all online, giving me the capability to work and learn. While studying, I was accepted for the athletic communications intern position at Harvard and worked with five sports: men's volleyball, women's tennis, women's and coed sailing, men's and women's fencing and was a secondary contact for two ticketed sports: men's ice hockey and women basketball.
This year of my life was a turning point. It wasn't a turning point away from the profession, but it tested my patience and determination as I went from Division III to Division I. Following the internship, it was a nerve-wrecking process getting another job since the internship ended at the end of May. Jobs were posted, and I was lucky to land my current position at Stonehill College in NCAA Division II. I have never had a dream position or school but knew that this college was great since I had previously applied to it the summer before choosing a college.
Why do you enjoy working at Stonehill?
DA: I enjoy working at Stonehill because of the connections that I have formed. I am sure at any other school, I would get just as many connections but these student-athletes, coaches and administrators have seen a difference in the athletic communications department. And though I may see it as my job, they see it as change for the better. I also enjoy the opportunities to grow. I have been a part of hosting two NCAA Tournaments, traveled to nine playoff runs, and traveled to two NCAA Tournament appearances. I am currently part of the Northeast-10 Conference Sports Administration Council and recently was selected to be part of the CoSIDA U Committee.
As a young professional, how do you bond with your student-athletes and how do you hope they will remember you for years to come?
DA: I think that relationships are the most important thing to get out of your job and since we work with the student-athletes, it is extremely important to maintain those lasting relationships. Of course, being young helps, but I believe that also being a former student-athlete also helps connecting and being able to ask them about classes, time management, getting to know their professors, anything else that they do on campus, and of course keeping in touch to see where they land a job after school. One way that I have found that they remember me is the selfie that I make all my teams take that go to NCAA Tournaments. I started that back when I was at Harvard and continue it with the Stonehill teams that I travel with. Sometimes a team might get a selfie even if they don't make it (NCAAs), but that just means that they made a lasting impact on me. I continuously say hi to them whenever I see them and make sure to make myself visible for them.
I believe that this profession may be a behind the scenes job, but it is important for the student-athletes to know who to go to, especially, for example, if a local newspaper wants to interview them. One of the keys that I developed myself going through my Harvard experience was that all sports matter, no matter how small. As I covered fencing, a sport that not many people know about, I found that the team enjoyed when I could attend a practice, match, or bring them in for an interview. I have taken that and brought it through to Stonehill and have found the same response with cross country, track & field, and equestrian. Now it may seem like I am giving them more attention, but in reality, I am just giving them everything that I normally give to the other teams that I cover — it is my job every day to do so.
With 21 intercollegiate sports, Stonehill boasts one of the top athletic and academic programs in the country. Stonehill has finished in the top three of the Northeast-10 Conference Presidents' Cup standings for overall athletic performance 14 straight years, following a third place finish in 2017-18. The Skyhawks have received the NCAA Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Achievement each of the first seven years of the program's existence of honoring institutions with an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 90-percent or better. Stonehill has earned a 97% Academic Success Ranking (ASR) by the NCAA, which considers the academic success rate of the institution based on the graduation rate of student-athletes, good for fourth among all NCAA Division II institutions, with ten Skyhawk teams receiving a perfect rating of 100%. In addition, the Skyhawks are ranked third in the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) Power Rankings for Division II used to assess the academic and athletic standards of all NCAA and NAIA athletic programs.
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