Taylor Corley, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
On Sept. 22, the Berry College Athletics Department announced the resignation of Blake Childers, director of sports information and promotions.
Childers began working at Berry in 2016 when he was just 23 years old and has been the director of sports information and promotions for the past four years. According to Childers, as the media contact for all 21 sports on campus, his job entails handling the marketing and communications aspects within the athletic department, including any outside media coverage of Berry athletics, as well as handling oversight of BerryVikings. com and the BerryVikings social media platforms.
“I like to tell people that anything that didn’t happen on the field or that you didn’t buy at the concession stand was something I was involved in,” Childers said. “So all of the scoreboards, the music, the announcing, the video streaming, the official scorekeeping, all that stuff.”
Off the field, Childers managed the official Berry College Athletic pages on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and in his time at Berry, was able to gain a substantial following on all three platforms. According to Childers, when he started working, the BerryVikings Instagram account had around 800 followers; today that number stands at over 3,700.
“When I came in, especially Instagram, it was mostly dormant and hadn’t really been used very much outside of just like every now and then posting like a final score,” Childers said. “Research and the best practices show us that like Berry’s target audience, which is college students and high school students, are so heavily on Instagram that I felt like that was really an untapped resource for the school and I put a lot of focus on the Instagram.”
The BerryVikings social media platforms now lead the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) in number of followers on each page.
However, his contributions to the athletic department do not stop there. Through Berry’s student work program, Childers was a part of the sports information department for two years. He was then able to apply his experience and perspective to his job as a director.
“I wanted to have ownership of my position when I was a student in that department and that’s what I wanted to give my students the opportunity to do when I came back as a director,” Childers said.
According to Childers, one of his goals coming into the job was to better utilize the student work program in the sports information department. He wanted to equip students who worked there with the experience needed to get jobs in the athletic communications field after graduation. He restructured the student work team so that there were five supervisor positions.
“Basically the students who were able to come through and work on that team and in that program, in four years I had five students graduate and then immediately go into jobs in the athletic communications field.”
Students who were a part of Childers’ team saw opportunities to work in the athletic communications field immediately following graduation, and many received jobs such as graduate assistants at DI and DII schools, including Valdosta State and Lenoir-Rhyne University, and assistant sports information director at a DIII school in Texas.
“That to me, if you want to talk about what I’m most proud of, that I was able to accomplish, is giving the students the opportunity to grow their skills and then immediately go and be able to jump into the field after they graduated,” Childers said.
After graduating from Berry himself in 2015, with a visual communications major and business minor, Childers spent a year working with the South Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), a DIII athletic conference out of Atlanta.
While working at SCAC, Childers was able to travel, run tournaments, manage social media accounts and work on multimedia video productions, but what he missed most and what drew him back to his alma mater was being able to partake in game day festivities firsthand.
“One of things I didn’t really get to do was actually be at the sporting events on game days and when I was at the SCAC I knew I wanted to do that,” Childers said. “So when the Berry position opened, obviously it being my alma mater it was going to be a great fit, but I was going to have the opportunity to all of those game day activities that I wasn’t getting to do and so it was just a really good opportunity to do somethings that I was looking to do.”
Childers reflected on the time he was able to accompany the women’s softball to Atlanta when they won their regional title 2018.
“Being able to share in moments like that was something I alway really enjoyed,” Childers said. “That to me was the most fun part of the job. That’s something I’m going to miss. I think Berry has an incredibly successful athletics program and so I saw a lot winning over the past four years and being able to cover that and kind of share in their success was something that I always really enjoyed.”
The former director of sports information and promotions will be taking on a new role as a communications specialist with Home Depot but is confident that his previous work experience has prepared him well.
“It’s going to be a lot different than working in sports but there are also a lot of similarities to it with video and graphic design, being able to write effectively and communicate in a concise manner and stuff like that,” Childers said.
Childers wants to thank the entire athletics department for four really good years and continues to celebrate the success of the DIII program. He is looking forward to attending sporting events at Berry and cheering as an alumni.
“If I have the opportunity, on weekends and stuff like that, to help out with sports whenever I can and whenever I want to, that’s probably something I’ll still do,” Childers said. “But it’s going to be an adjustment to actually having free weekends now, so it’s going to be cool.”