Inside Iowa State
October 22, 1999
Behnd the scenes, but ahead of the game
by Marjorie Sandner, News Service intern
Although she can't always show it, Erin Rosacker is behind the men and women who participate in Iowa State athletics. Rosacker is an associate director of athletic media relations, and while her job requires her to keep a neutral outlook, she said she always wants Iowa State athletes to do well.
"I can't really be a fan because I can't let it affect my job. But I love working with our student athletes. They're great people and they keep me young," she said. "I love working on a college campus because there's always something going on."
Rosacker said that when the teams are doing well, her job is even more fun. The success of last year's women's basketball team and strong start for this year's football team "means more work, but the work is more fun," she said.
"More people want to come to the games and keep up on the news when the teams are doing well," she explained. "It's great when more people pay attention to our teams."
Much of athletic media relations work goes unnoticed, Rosacker said.
"Most people don't realize how much work is involved in each game, from arranging seating for all of the members of the media to taking notes during each game for them to use for their media coverage."
Rosacker's other day-to-day duties include co-editing the women's basketball and football media guides, coordinating interviews and photo sessions of athletes, and compiling noteworthy facts and statistics on the Cyclones and their opponents. She also fields all sorts of phone calls, including the periodic call from a fan wanting the story behind the Iowa State mascot.
"There used to be a costume company in Ames. The company had a contest for people to enter their ideas for ISU's mascot and the cardinal won -- probably because ISU's colors already were cardinal and gold," Rosacker recalled.
Rosacker graduated from the college of black and gold, otherwise known as the University of Iowa, in 1992 with a degree in journalism. She worked as a student assistant in Iowa's women's sports information department and then as an assistant at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., for one year. The wrestling media guide she produced there was rated second in the nation by CoSIDA, an organization of nearly 2,000 college sports information directors.
Media guides include sports statistics, the schedule, background on opponents and biographies and photos of players, coaches and staff.
Rosacker moved on to become the assistant sports information director at Drake University, joined Iowa State's media relations office in 1994 and was named associate director last year.
She said media relations work can be hectic, especially at the end of each game.
"When one game's over, we get down to business," she said. "We immediately start getting all of the stats together and start researching the team they will be playing next."
When compiling notes for media, Rosacker and her colleagues are watching for records that could be tied or broken, and milestones in Iowa State players' careers.
"When it looks like something newsworthy is going to happen, we alert the members of the media so they know what to watch for and what to talk about," she said.
"That's why they always sound so smart," she laughed.
NCAA, Olympic Games
It was her own smarts, however, that contributed to one of the highlights of her career. Rosacker served as the media coordinator for the NCAA women's regional basket-ball tournament the last two years when Iowa State hosted the first and second rounds of the championship.
"It was a big deal and we were successful at it. The people loved having it here in Ames," she said. "Everything, from having hundreds of phone lines available for the press members to arranging interviews, ran smoothly."
Another career highlight, Rosacker said, was the opportunity to work as the press row manager for the judo venue at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
"It was really interesting," she laughed. "The phone lines were messed up and the results system had bugs in it. I had people screaming at me in lots of different languages.
"But it was still fun," she added. "I learned a lot about judo. Did you know that judo is the only sport where you legally can break your opponent's arm and choke him until he passes out?"
A sports fan all her life, Rosacker said there aren't many sports she isn't interested in. The exceptions?
"I don't care what anyone says. Professional wrestling and auto racing are not sports. Really, what kind of skills do these things require?" she joked.
Certain skills are required, however, for the work Rosacker does every day.
"This job requires a combination of desktop publishing, writing, editing and people skills," she said. "And above all, time management skills. There are a lot of deadlines for the work we do."
The time demands are the first thing Rosacker said she would change about her job, given the chance. "I basically don't have time to have a life," she said.
Summer is slower, she said, because there aren't any sports that are in-season. "But there's still always something to do. I use the summertime to work on things like media guides."
She has won two awards for the football guides at Iowa State: best in the district and second best in the nation.
While she joked that her dream job would be "retirement," she admitted that crazy work schedule and all, she enjoys her job.
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