It was 2012, Justin Lafleur’s second year working with the Lehigh Athletics department. It was also the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. And Lafleur was handling the media, by himself.
“After Lehigh beat Duke, I will never forget what happened as I was standing at the locker room getting bombarded with media requests,” Lafleur said. “C.J. McCollum came up to me and genuinely said to me, ‘I know things are really busy, and you have a lot coming at you. Please let me know what I can do to help.'”
Lafleur, the senior assistant director of sports communications at Lehigh, said that moment was one of the most rewarding experiences he has had in his career.
Joined by Lafleur are director Steve Lomangino and assistant directors Tim Geer and Derek Behrenshausen, who together make up Lehigh Sports Communications.
As a team, the group of four handles everything from recording statistics at a softball game to conducting play-by-play analysis at a volleyball game to handling media requests from outlets such as ESPN and CBS Sports.
The voice over the loudspeaker at football games and wrestling matches belongs to Lomangino. The man handing out stat sheets at men’s basketball and lacrosse games is Lafleur. The person who records all of the track and field and cross country statistics is Geer. The previews and recaps about the men’s soccer and baseball teams are written by Behrenshausen.
Lomangino has been with Lehigh’s athletics department for almost 15 years.
“Our job isn’t the typical 9-5 job,” Lomangino said. “It is different every day, but you have to have a real passion for what we do. It’s a lifestyle more than a job.”
In addition to being passionate, Lomangino said the job requires adaptability.
Particularly during seasons that overlap for different sports, Geer said his days could start in the early hours of the morning and end well after midnight. Some days he may be on the road traveling with the women’s basketball team, and when he gets back to the hotel after the game, he still has to upload track statistics from the meet earlier in the day.
But for Geer, that’s his favorite part of the job he’s been doing for the last four years.
“I love how I feel a part of what’s going on,” Geer said. “When people go onto the website and read the preview or look at the statistics from a game, we are the ones that do everything people see, and it is cool to feel like I contributed to the production of that.”
Though each member of the sports communications team comes from a different background, they all share the same passion. Their love for sports is what drives them to tell the stories of Lehigh’s student-athletes.
Lomangino said his favorite part about his job is watching athletes’ Lehigh experiences develop and seeing what drives them as athletes and students.
Lafleur said his appreciation for sports and athletes that he has not previously worked with has grown over his time at Lehigh, specifically his appreciation for the commitment rowers put into their sport.
Behrenshausen, who is in his second year at Lehigh, said he enjoys seeing how hard student-athletes work.
“Especially here, a lot of kids have a lot on their plates with school and everything else,” he said. “We don’t necessarily have the best athletes, and you know how hard they have to work just to compete at the level they are at.”
When an athlete finds success or has a good game, Behrenshausen said he gets the opportunity to share it with the Lehigh community.
“When they thank me for a tweet or a post, I feel like I helped make their day,” he said.
Geer couldn’t agree more.
He traveled with the softball team to UCLA last year and said watching the women compete in the NCAA Tournament was an incredible experience. After the game, Geer said the players’ families thanked him for being part of the team.
But, what the Lehigh Sports Communications department values the most is its team.
“Working in sports is a lot like playing sports,” Behrenshausen said. “You have to be a team player and rely on the people around you.”