LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Gallaudet University Sports Information Office, led by Associate Athletic Director for Communications Sam Atkinson, was selected Wednesday as the 2016-17 Grant Burger Media Award winner for the Northeast Region as presented by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).
The AVCA honored 10 national award finalists along with 57 regional/conference SID honorees covering NCAA Division I, II, III and NAIA for men’s and women’s volleyball and beach volleyball. Gallaudet is one of 10 Division III regional award recipients for women's volleyball.
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.
Atkinson completed his eighth 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. For three straight years the Gallaudet Athletics social media platforms have been ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III.
This past season Atkinson promoted Gallaudet’s seventh consecutive North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) women’s volleyball championship and seventh 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 BoxCast with live statistics provided by PrestoSports. Atkinson and his student workers also hosted a successful Worthington Classic where 16 matches were held in the Field House in two days. Live in-game statistics and live video were provided for all matches on two courts at the same time.
The Bison finished 21-16 overall, 11-2 in conference play, had four all-conference honors and junior Darriyan Thomas (Vallejo, Calif.) was named the 2016 NEAC Player of the Year while freshman Adele Daniels (Frderick, Md.) was selected as the 2016 NEAC Rookie of the Year. Thomas went on to earn AVCA All-Region first team accolades and later selected as an AVCA All-America honorable mention.
"This is great recognition for our University and our excellent women's volleyball program. I am honored and humbled by this award and I want to thank the AVCA for recognizing the hard work done by SIDs nationwide to promote the game of volleyball," said Atkinson. "I want to thank my former graduate assistant William Lovik and my student workers for contributing to our success, last season, promoting our teams and student-athletes at Gallaudet."
This is Atkinson’s third honor from the AVCA as he was named a national finalist for the 2014-15 Grant Burger Media Award for Social Media and in 2008-09 he was selected as the Division III Mid-Atlantic Region honoree 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.
NEAC foe Lancaster Bible College was the 2016-17 Grant Burger Media Award winner from the NEAC for men's volleyball.
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.