(November 2, 2018) Career planning has become more challenging in the two years since the first of Sam and Alaina Hovan’s two children were born. Selectivity became paramount. When a new opportunity presented itself, the Hovans knew it was right. Now Sam is the new Assistant Director of Athletics Communications/Digital Media at Longwood University in Farmville, VA.
The opportunity is a hybrid athletics communications position with traditional SID responsibilities and plenty of broadcasting. Hovan will serve as voice of Lancer athletics for radio and roughly 40 broadcasts of various sports on ESPN+. He leaves a sports information and broadcasting position at Arizona Western College, a two-year school in Yuma, AZ.
“The job at Longwood allows me to grow as a storyteller both in and out of the broadcast booth,” says Hovan. “Longwood focuses on connecting with their fan base in a way that is unique, I think, among schools. The communications team has creative freedom to try out story ideas that I haven’t really seen too many other places.”
The fact that Longwood is a Division I school also appeals to Hovan. “The expectation is excellence,” he says. “I have a chance to find out if I have what it takes as a broadcaster to keep pursuing my dream at the highest level.”
Hovan admits the challenge of moving up sometimes makes him nervous. “Sure! But who wouldn’t want the opportunity to pursue their dream and find out if they could really achieve it or not,” he says enthusiastically.
Starting a family two years ago has changed the way Hovan and his wife evaluate potential career opportunities. “It has a huge impact. Instead of seeing how a position would impact me and my career, I look at it together with Alaina as a team,” he says. “We evaluate how it would affect our whole family from how much she might have to work, would I be able to help cover her work hours watching the kids, when would I see my kids, etc. We really try and communicate to stay on the same page about what is best for our family and go from there.”
The Longwood opportunity was not posted on STAA’s public job board but was emailed to STAA members in September when the university requested assistance. “I started putting my application together quickly,” Hovan recalls. “In the process of researching the school and creating my cover letter, I found that I had worked with Chris Cook, my future boss, when I was interning for the capstone piece of my Master’s degree [at Syracuse].”
Many job seekers emphasize the broadcasting part of positions that include media relations or other duties. Hovan knew better. “I think it was really important that I focused on ALL aspects of the job, and that I didn’t try to make up things that I didn’t do. The broadcasting is important, of course, but the position encompasses quite a bit more. Since my experience lined up with both parts, I could emphasize that.”
Hovan also dug into Longwood’s athletic history when preparing his application. “Hopefully, I made myself stand out because I already had a base level of knowledge about the teams/programs when I interviewed. While I always knew to do that, STAA helped me clarify how that should come out in the cover letter.”
Hovan joined STAA in May and attended an STAA San Diego Play-by-Play retreat in July. “There are two big challenges that my STAA membership helps me address. One of the biggest is finding out about open positions. It is really difficult to hear about most of the openings, and many that I wanted to apply for don’t have public postings.
“Second, my membership provided great tools to help my approach stand out. Specifically, I learned how to polish my cover letter even more. I always knew how important it was to research your potential employer, but STAA gave me a concrete approach to putting what I learned on paper in a coherent way.”
(Visit Sam’s website).