From Quinnipiac to Quinnipiac

Will Fowler

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Noonan (left) and Solari (right). (Quinnipiac Athletics)

At Quinnipiac University, there is a very close-knit sense of community. Families exist in a home away from home all over campus; whether it be in the form of clubs, sports, classrooms or in dorms. But one family people don’t hear of often is the working family.

 

This family is in Quinnipiac’s Athletic Department. Athletics has a hard-working, always-busy staff, but there are two names that stand out in particular: Kevin Noonan and Nick Solari, listed under ‘Athletic Communications.’ The two graduated from Quinnipiac, and are both very familiar with the school’s student media.

 

Noonan invested much of his time in the Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network (QBSN), and actually witnessed the creation of the magazine. For Solari, he loved to write and spent much of his time crafting articles for the newspaper, The Chronicle. In fact, one of his pieces was a national finalist by the College Media Association for “Best Sports Piece.”

 

Looking back on their days as undergraduates, the two mentioned that Quinnipiac’s student media during their time was not as developed as they see it is now, saying they sometimes worked in a trailer by the Commons dormitory because the media suite didn’t even exist. They both laughed, remembering their days being up until 2 a.m. working on things they needed to get done; whether it was writing a late night recap for QBSN or meeting a deadline for The Chronicle.

 

The creation of the media suite came in 2009. Noonan expressed how the space “made student media what it is today.” Both of them felt that, right now, student media is the best it has ever been and will only continue to develop, as long as the students stay motivated.

 

“[You’ve] got to be willing to put in the work, whether you’re getting paid or you’re not,” said Noonan.

 

So, after their time in Hamden, both as undergraduates and graduate assistants, they followed life where it took them. For Noonan, that meant shipping up north to cold up-state New York at Colgate University. He worked there for two years, but then received a job offer from home.

 

“It was a chance for me to not only come back to Quinnipiac but to come back to Connecticut and be closer to family and friends. Quinnipiac has always felt like home to me,” Noonan said, smiling.

 

Solari took a position also in New York, but on Long Island with Stony Brook University’s athletics. Like Noonan, the recent graduate was already eager to come back to Hamden. “It was a no brainer for me. It was a chance for me to come back to my alma mater, work with a lot of coaches and staff members that I already knew, and just come home,” Solari said.

 

To experience a different department was something very important to the two. When reflecting their time at their first jobs at different schools, it gave them new perspectives and it let them try something new, “If you work in one department your whole life, you think that’s the only way to do things,” Solari mentioned. Noonan added on to that, explaining his willingness to try something new was helpful when coming back to Quinnipiac.

 

Since coming back, they work as Sports Information Directors (SID). But while their job is demanding – and sometimes stressful – what exactly does an SID do?

 

For student media, quite a lot.

 

Without SIDs, student (and even professional) medias would not be able to communicate to Quinnipiac Athletics in a personal way. There would be no interviews with athletes, no written game recaps, and no press conferences with the coaches – all the reasons why people love and follow sports.

 

The directors not only oversee a variety of the school’s sports and its athletes, but they are responsible for the face of QU athletics. The department lets the staff tell a story in their own words, and that can be both rewarding and frustrating. So, when describing their job, the alumni agreed that social media has grown and become more of the focus of their everyday tasks. As the paper industry dwindles, more people are turning to technology for their sports updates. A lot of what they do is finding new ways to reach audiences, either through the athletics website or Twitter. Regardless, they are always working with on the social platform.

 

Between the pair, Noonan and Solari coordinate, organize and promote 10 of the 21 Division I level sports on campus. So the obvious question: how do they stay organized? Do they keep a huge, heavy binder full of everything on every sport? Again, they laughed. Instead, Noonan says he writes himself sticky notes every day, so it’s not too overwhelming.

 

Part of what makes Noonan and Solari such valuable additions to the Athletics Department is their young age. Considering that the targets of their audiences are now digital and online, their age gives them an advantage with their knowledge of popular technological and social trends. Noonan then guessed that the, “average age of our SID’s is 25 years old. [I’m] willing to bet we are the youngest Athletic Communications Staff in the country.” Not only a bold statement, but an impressive one.

 

It sounds like they live the dream. And they do, no doubt. So we asked them, “What’s the hardest part about your job?” There was a silence, and the two exchanged a confused look. “I think the fact that we both had to pause when you asked us ‘what’s the hardest part of this job is,’ says a lot. It speaks to how happy we are to be back. It really is refreshing to transition into a new job, but to know people from a place you were, at a point in your life when you were really happy is so incredible,” Solari said.

 

Besides being grateful for their opportunities, they agreed that, if they had to pick the hardest part, that it would be the pressure of promoting the teams. Quinnipiac athletics are on the rise, with an unbeatable women’s basketball team and a nationally ranked men’s ice hockey team (No. 6 as of 2/11), each team deserves the recognition that it works for. Whether it plays a defending national champion (Quinnipiac men’s basketball away vs. Villanova) or makes it all the way to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship game (Quinnipiac men’s soccer vs. Rider), they all work hard and people like Noonan and Solari makes sure it shows.

 

“So then, what’s the best part?”

 

Another silence, but they laughed because that question was hard too. Answering that question was one they had to think about because there are so many great parts to the job. They had to pick one, but they didn’t leave anyone out.

 

Noonan started by saying that it was the people. Between the guidance from others to building relationships with everyone that’s involved, it’s just that “Quinnipiac’s a lot about family,” Noonan summarized.

 

“We’ve kind of lived Quinnipiac,” Solari added, laughing. “I wake up every morning, even when you have bad days in this industry, and sometimes I just say to myself: ‘I’m at my alma mater; working in sports, working with incredible student athletes and coaches – and great people.’”

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