Jasper graduate immersed in Syracuse sports

BY COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

Susie Mehringer didn’t play sports at Jasper, but they’ve always been a big part of her life as she grew up around them, and she has spent decades making a living in sports.

The 1988 Jasper grad is the assistant director of athletic communications at Syracuse University (N.Y.). Mehringer has had to wear various hats in the sports information department at Syracuse, and will celebrate her 26th anniversary with the school in August.

She couldn’t have imagined she’d have been around this long when she first joined in 1994, but she loves it.

Susie Mehringer

“It’s the people that I work with in our office, the people that I work with in the athletic department, the coaches and administrators in it — really, the student-athletes,” Mehringer said. “Just working with them — I admire them so much what they do — and just being able to tell their stories and share their successes is probably what’s kept me there.”

Mehringer recalls taking sports-related vacations when she was younger. She went to St. Louis with her family to see the Cardinals, and has memories of her cousins, Mike and Jim Burger, as athletes at Jasper before they played baseball at the University of Evansville. Mehringer also recalls how exciting it was when the Wildcats went to the Class 4A state championship game in football in 1987 when she was a senior.

She also noticed she loved to write, but laughed when asked why she didn’t try to become a sportswriter for The Herald.

“I think it was just I really wanted to work with a team and an organization — just one organization as opposed to covering a lot of different sports,” she said. “So, I think that’s why I went the route of PR as opposed to news journalism.”

Mehringer attended Ball State University. She first thought she would work in professional sports, but grew a love for college athletics, and admiration for the student-athletes who balance their college athletics with their academics. Mehringer noticed Ball State had a sports information major when she was a senior in high school, but the school dropped the major, and she instead majored in public relations.

She first began working in sports information out of college at the University of Evansville. Mehringer called it an internship, but said she was treated like a full-time employee with the chance to do many different things.

Mehringer landed the Syracuse gig through a convention in Chicago of College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). She’s had a change in roles through the years, and believes she has evolved through an increase in confidence on how to help coaches and athletes build their communication skills and helping them out.

She joked that it was “complete chaos” in the sports information department during Syracuse’s national championship men’s basketball season in 2003.

“That year, we were fortunate enough that the regionals, the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight were in Albany, New York, and that was only a few hours away,” Mehringer said. “So, I was able to go those two rounds and support our staff there, and then I was able to go to New Orleans for the semifinals and finals. I think people would be surprised how much — especially once you get to the Final Four — and I was also there in 2016 as well, and it’s become so much pressure for [the team] from the media side.

“They have photo shoots with CBS,” she continued. “They have interviews with television, with radio, newspapers. I mean, there’s basically two full days of things like that, and then they’re trying to practice and prepare for the game. So really, there’s a lot of distractions for the team, and they just have to kind of get through that to where they kind of concentrate on the game, but it’s so exciting. There’s nothing like it, and it was a great opportunity.”

Some of Mehringer’s current roles include coordinating the website of her department, Orange Exclusive magazine and being a photography liaison. She credits being organized as the key to success in her roles, as there’s a joke within the department that they never have the same day twice. Priorities can change in a matter of minutes, and being a good communicator with time management skills is crucial.

It’s been especially tough for her as the sports information department has had to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak and adjust accordingly. Mehringer noted how good the women’s lacrosse team was this year, and it was hard with their season being canceled.

“Learning that they weren’t going to get the opportunity to play for a national championship that they had really been working toward all year, it’s heartbreaking,” Mehringer said. “It was heartbreaking for them and to watch them learn that their season was over, and that they weren’t going to get that chance.”

She’s hoping it can be done next year, as student-athletes who had their year canceled were granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Mehringer knows to anticipate many scenarios as coronavirus cases continue to rise in some states, and said steps are being taken to prepare for that on the sports information side. She wonders how they’ll do interviews, or how the pressbox will be set up.

“We don’t have a lot [of answers] right now, because that’s two months away,” she said. “So, a lot of things could change between now and then. I think everyone’s just trying to look at the different scenarios of, ‘What can we do? How can we keep everyone safe, but also at the same time doing our jobs to the best of our ability,’ and so we’re hearing different things, but we won’t know for sure until those first games come and what it looks like across the board.”




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