LEXINGTON, Ky. – Gallaudet University Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Sam Atkinson was named Friday as one of five finalists for the 2014-15 Grant Burger Media Award presented by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).
University of San Francisco Director of Creative Video Katie Morgan was selected as the recipient of the 2014-15 Grant Burger Media Award. Morgan promoted both indoor and sand volleyball teams through compelling video coverage.
There are five different categories for the Grant Burger Media Award they include: Sports Information Directors (SID), Broadcast, Web, Social Media and College Student Reporter. Atkinson was the finalist for social media, in only the third year for this category.
The AVCA Grant Burger Media Award is an honor intended to recognize members of the media who have been involved in the advancement of the sport of volleyball, whether it be through consistent coverage in all mediums (sports information, print, broadcasting, web content, college student reporter and social media), production of volleyball-specific publications or extensive radio and/or television exposure. It is named in honor of Grant Burger, former Director of Sports Information and Associate Director of the AVCA (1988-92), whose hard work, innovative mind, knowledge and enthusiasm took the areas of media relations and publications at the AVCA to a higher level and increased awareness of the sport of volleyball nationwide.
"I am very honored and humbled by this award. I want to thank the AVCA for recognizing the hard work done by SIDs nationwide to promote the game of volleyball," said Atkinson. "It is a thrill to cover Gallaudet women's volleyball program and all Bison athletic sports. I want to thank my graduate assistant Sarah Bensman and my student workers for contributing to our success promoting our teams and student-athletes here."
Atkinson completed his sixth year at Gallaudet, the world's only university with programs and services specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students, where he has taken @GallaudetBison social media platforms to new heights. GU is currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division III Social Media Leaderboard out of 450 schools. The Bison own a 10.9460 Social Media Index, 2.7 percentage points ahead of second-place University of Mount Union. Gallaudet ended the 2014-15 school year ranked No. 1 in Instagram followers for Division III schools and No. 4 in Facebook likes.
This past season Atkinson promoted Gallaudet’s fifth consecutive North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) women’s volleyball championship and fifth straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Atkinson gave Gallaudet’s fans a behind the scenes look during the tournament run with constant posts on social media. Atkinson, who is the only full-time employee in the Gallaudet Sports Information Office, is responsible for the statistics, social media, live video and game operations for all Bison home games. A dozen matches were streamed on UStream with live statistics provided by PrestoSports. Atkinson and his student workers also hosted a third straight NEAC tournament at the Field House. The Bison finished 22-14, 11-1 NEAC play, had four all-conference honors and senior Kali Frowick was named NEAC Player of the Year and was an AVCA All-American honorable mention. Plus, the Gallaudet Sports Information Office continues to use technology and "Go Green" with its Quick Response (QR) GameDay Programs that were established back in 2011. GU was one of the first athletic programs to use QR Programs in the country.
"Sam is the constant professional and always represents our university in a first-class way,” said Gallaudet Assistant Athletic Director/Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Lynn Ray Boren. “I wish we could have Sam on every road trip to promote our team on all of these social media platforms.”
This is Atkinson’s second honor with the AVCA as he was named 2008-09 NCAA Division III SID Regional Honoree for the Mid-Atlantic region while working as the Sports Information Director at Salisbury (Md.) University. Atkinson received his bachelor's degree in Communication Arts from Salisbury in 2000 and his master's degree in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University in 2013.
In addition, the AVCA honored 43 Regional/Conference SID honorees with Friday’s announcement covering NCAA Division I, II, III and NAIA for men’s and women’s volleyball and sand volleyball.
2014-15 AVCA Grant Burger Media Award
Winner: Katie Morgan (University of San Francisco)
Broadcast: Jake Hromada (Ohio University)
College Student Reporter: Claire Fahy (UCLA)
Sports Information Director: Aaron Sagraves (Cornerstone University)
Social Media: Sam Atkinson (Gallaudet University)
Web: Ken Sickenger (Albuquerque Journal)
The AVCA, with its headquarters in Lexington, Ky., is managed by Associations International. The mission of the AVCA is to advance the sport of volleyball with AVCA coaches at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy and professional development. With a membership of over 6,400 and counting, the AVCA provides a professional network for those individuals and companies dedicated to enhancing and promoting the sport. Members include collegiate, high school, club, youth and Olympic coaches, as well as volleyball club directors. The AVCA provides education to volleyball coaches, recognition of elite players and coaches, promotion of volleyball competitions throughout the world, and networking opportunities for volleyball products and services providers. Further information is available at www.avca.org.