The coronavirus outbreak has been a source of stress for students, athletes and staff as individuals adjust to life in a pandemic.
The Lehigh Sports Communications and Multimedia Department within the Lehigh Athletics Department is in charge of covering and reporting on games throughout the year. But, with the cancellation of spring sports and most students home for the semester, there’s no in-season content for the department.
That hasn’t stopped them from continuing their jobs.
Steve Lomangino, the director of Sports Communications, said no one on their team has been negatively affected to the point where they need a second job.
“We’ll all just continue riding out the self-isolation storm, while trying to do our job of telling the Lehigh athletics story as best as we possibly can,” Lomangino said.
Lomangino said the rest of the year will be different and challenging, but the department will continue to work.
“The abrupt ending to the spring seasons and winter championship seasons threw everyone for a loop, but it’s our obligation to continue producing content and handling media requests, which have picked up over the last week,” Lomangino said.
Justin Lafleur, the senior assistant director of Sports Communications, said the department still has plenty to do, despite the cancellation of sports for the academic year.
Although their duties have shifted away from game coverage, Lafleur said the department merely has to be more inventive in their story ideas.
“With the absence of sports currently happening in our country, we are thinking creatively about how to create compelling content on both our website and social media platforms,” Lafleur said.
Although sporting events have stopped, Lehigh athletes still have plenty of stories to tell, whether it’s profiling a standout athlete, looking at their extracurriculars or featuring alum, Lafleur said.
The department has been working collaboratively and thinking creatively about how they will replace two months of steady, in-season content, Lomangino said.
“We will be producing a lot of feature content — some written, some video — a heavy emphasis on our spring sports and especially the senior student-athletes who had their careers end abruptly,” Lomangino said. “For most of our sports, we do Q&As with the seniors. We call them senior reflections, which normally appear around senior day competitions.”
Lomangino said they will continue to do these features for the next two months to highlight the spring sport seniors. They also will be adding a video component recognizing seniors through conversations with head coaches, Lomangino said.
Lafleur said they are getting a jump-start on their typical summer work — areas such as updating student-athletes and coach bios, working on record books and sorting through photos.
“When everything happened this month, there was an underlying expectation between all of us that we would and should create content to the best of our ability,” Lafleur said. “It won’t be at the same pace as during the athletics seasons, but there are still plenty of stories to tell to keep fans engaged, whether it’s through the website or social media platforms.”
Kelly Rohrer, multimedia coordinator for Lehigh Athletics, said the department is still conducting weekly meeting check-ins with Sports Communication, Marketing and Sales.
Rohrer said using Zoom has been a great tool to use for conducting feature interviews.
“It’s not how we usually do these, but in the environment that we’re in now, it’s been beneficial,” Rohrer said.
Lomangino said the Sports Communications and Multimedia Department will also be featuring content that will include recapping the year with highlight videos and social media content, possibly re-airing some top Patriot League Network games from the past year or some classic games.
They are also working with their department’s awards committee to see what they can do in terms of their year-end athletics convocation, Lomangino said.
While the coronavirus pandemic has changed their day-to-day work, the department continues to develop new content and cover Lehigh’s athletes, current and former, wherever they may be around the world.