For Your Information
Sports information staffers provide the stats to media and the public
Veterans Derek Inouchi, right, and Markus Owens share football duties as part of Mānoa’s six-member sports media relations team
If you knew Colt Brennan’s 416 first-half yards against Northern Colorado this season set an NCAA record… If you heard Dave Shoji’s Wahine Volleyball team won 114 consecutive conference matches before falling to New Mexico State last season, then they did their job.
Away from the bright lights illuminating field or floor, scribbling on a notepad or researching records, the University of Hawaiʻi’s sports media relations team keeps a lower profile than a fourth string punter. Yet they are vital to the public image of the intercollegiate programs, providing just about every record or side note heard on a UH sports broadcast.
"Our primary role is to serve as the department’s liaison to the media," says Sports Media Relations Director Derek Inouchi, "making players and coaches available for interviews and press conferences and making sure everyone has the most current information and statistics on our programs."
"The department has really grown a lot," observes veteran Honolulu Star-Bulletin sportswriter Cindy Luis. "The university wants a top notch program and wants to take itself to the next level. A big part of that growth is keeping the media involved. The sports information department is extremely important, and they do a very good job."
Technology has transformed the industry, and Inouchi’s team must keep pace. The website gets 13,000–21,000 visitors each day. "Not only do we serve the media, we have in effect become a member of it," Inouchi says. No longer limited to daily papers and the evening news, fans, recruits and reporters can visit the UH athletics website to read stories, check stats, download video and see pictures of athletes.
Assistant Director Markus Owens recalls the changes since he joined the department in 1992: "When I first came aboard we had something called a telecopier. It was like a fax, but the document had to be rolled around a cylinder to be sent. The thing was, the person you were sending it to had to be waiting on the other end with their machine to receive it. Our boss, Ed Inouye, would come back from football games and wait past midnight so the guy in Kansas City could get to work in the morning and turn on his machine."
Technology helps Kelly Leong, point man for all 13 UH Hilo Vulcan sports programs. Phoning from a road trip with the soccer team, he explains: "Thanks to the Internet, email and cell phones, I am sitting in Oakland having dinner, doing this interview. I can send out a game story and update stats right from here. That’s invaluable considering all the teams I need to cover."
Duties start hours before each game and last long after. "With the hours we put in and the amount of work this job demands, you really have to enjoy what you do," says Inouchi, who is also responsible for the office budget, a staff of five and student employees. The 1996 UH Mānoa graduate has been primary media contact for eight sports over the past 10 years. Becoming director last fall is a dream come true, he says. "First and foremost, I am a UH sports fan—have been all my life. I will always remember the first time we beat BYU in football; the whole stadium was rocking from kickoff to the final whistle. What a ʻchicken skin’ moment."