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Seniors Take On Full-Time Roles With Penn State Athletics Communications

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Two Penn State seniors have taken on big-time roles with Penn State Athletics this spring. Some might say these are big shoes to fill. For these two, it’s been no issue.

Former Onward State writer Connor Donohue and Eric Yang have stepped into roles as sports information directors for Penn State’s softball and track and field programs, respectively. As such, they’re serving as the primary media contacts for both teams, all while balancing their classwork and living life as Penn State students.

Donohue and Yang, who both previously interned with Athletics, have worked in their roles since March. The opportunity to become fully-fledged sports information directors came after their respective predecessors left their posts

“It caught me by surprise, and [they] just told me that she wanted me to take over, and I accepted,” Yang said. “It was a really quick transition period.”

Courtesy of Eric Yang

Sports information directors serve as the in-between wall for college athletics teams and the public media. They’re generally also tasked with managing social media pages, compiling statistics, and curating other content to keep fans at home informed on the team’s latest achievements.

The pair of students started working for Penn State as interns in the strategic communications department in August 2021. While interning involved several tasks, including writing game recaps and keeping statistics, the experience they both now share requires much more responsibility.

“I was on a Zoom call with Big Ten producers and commentators because they wanted to talk to [my] coach, and they’re contacting me to set up these interviews,” Donohue said. “I’m like, ‘What the hell?'”

Donohue stressed that the writing did not slow down in this role but instead picked up immensely. On top of press releases, Donohue is tasked with assembling statistical reports for the softball team’s staff.

Courtesy of Connor Donohue

Finding the balance between student life and the transition from being an intern to becoming a sports information director was no easy task. Yang mentioned the first week on the job was by far the hardest. He noted feeling overwhelmed by updating Penn State’s website, lining up contact information, and organizing an entire team’s worth of information on the fly.

Donohue often finds himself traveling across the country to ramp up communications efforts as the Nittany Lions hit the road. Donohue said he’s glad he received time off to walk at graduation in a few weeks while Penn State softball heads to Illinois to face the Illini.

In their last semesters as undergraduates, the pair spend a significant amount of time staying committed to their work.

“It’s definitely a sacrifice,” Donohue said. “It’s a sacrifice the same way, like any student-athlete, I have to work weekends and travel with the team, which is still fun and an awesome experience.”

Yang works from Happy Valley and has not traveled with the team yet, but plans to later in the season. He noted that traveling with the team is one part of the job that excites him most.

Following commencement this spring, both Donohue and Yang will continue their education by pursuing master’s degrees and working in strategic communications as graduate assistants beginning next fall. Donohue will stay in Pennsylvania and head to Kutztown University, while Yang will venture east to The College of New Jersey.

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About the Author

Gabriel Herman

Gabriel Herman is a journalism major at Penn State from Minneapolis, MN. He writes about several sports-related topics. If you want to discuss great moments in Minnesota sports history, you can reach him at [email protected].

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