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Fall 1997

Speaking of Sports: From One Sports Family to the Next...

by Michael Molde

Sports Information

It's past 11 p.m., yet here I sit at my computer in the office I currently share with former SID Jim Amidon taking a shot at my first Speaking of Sports column. Only the bugs that curiously inspect my well-lit screen and two separate security check-ins have disturbed me since about 8 p.m.

As I work, I begin to question why on Earth I'm still at the office, pecking away at my keyboard, and not at home watching ESPN SportsCenter or better yet, sleeping.

I soon realize that question doesn't require much thought; I just love sports and being a part of a college atmosphere. Sure, it's a simple explanation, but also very accurate. It's why I'm a college sports information director.

As this is my first attempt at writing this column for the magazine, I thought it might be appropriate for me to introduce myself to the Wabash family.

The oldest of four boys, I have literally grown up in an environment where sports are more than just what you watch on television. All four of us competed in at least one sport; I played two seasons of high school football and golf, and one season of baseball. But there's more.

My father, Al Molde, spent 26 autumns pacing the sidelines as a collegiate head football coach. Longtime Wabash football fans might remember his name, for he was the coach at the University of Minnesota-Morris when the Little Giants defeated the Cougars, 37-21, to advance to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in 1977. Currently the Director of Athletics at his alma mater, Gustavus Adolphus College, this is the first fall since 1970 that he has not been calling the plays on football Saturdays.

I have so many fond memories of growing up the son of a college football coach. Even though it meant I would see him less when he was away recruiting or on a road trip, it was still special for me to be able to be involved with his program-as a ball boy on the sidelines for 12 years and as a member of the equipment staff in college.

Have you seen those "cable boy" commercials on ESPN which promote college football? That was what I did for three years in college, following my father's every step on the sideline ­ and trying to pull him back when he charged onto the field to "express" his disapproval with an official's call. If you've seen my dad, you'd realize what a difficult task that could be at times!

Because I was "part of the program" during that early stage of my life, I developed an emotional bond to college sports. Those feelings are the motivational force which drive me every day.

My first involvement with the sports information profession was during my sophomore year at Western Michigan University. An organizational communication major, I wasn't sure what I really wanted to do for a career. So I sat down and had a long talk with my mom.

There were two things which I knew for certain-I had a good background knowledge of sports and I liked to write. My mom, an elementary school teacher and one of the most level headed people I know, mentioned the possibility of working in the sports information office at WMU, which seemed like a perfect fit. Within a week, I started as a student assistant in the office.

After graduating and doing a sports information internship at Lehigh University, I returned home to Kalamazoo, Mich., and accepted an internship at Kalamazoo College in August 1995. In a strange similarity to the situation I have entered here at Wabash, my boss at "K" left the SID position to head up the public relations office, so I became the full-time director only three months later.

Kalamazoo College is a fine school and I learned much during my time there. Its athletic department is best known for its outstanding tennis tradition and the Hornets also do very well in swimming & diving. I never took the time to verify this information, but it must be the only school in the United States which has a tennis stadium that seats more spectators than its football facility!

In mid-August, I packed what few possessions I own-basically a bed, a couch, a stereo, a TV, and two boxes full of old Sports Illustrated issues-and placed them in the back of a 24-foot rental truck for the four-hour drive to Crawfordsville. To see the vast emptiness in the back of that truck was almost comical, but those belongings are all I need at this point in my life.

My first day of work at Wabash was August 18, which is pretty late in the summer to switch jobs, but the opportunity I was presented with by Jim was too attractive to even think twice about. Two months into the job, I'm not second-guessing my decision-I've already discovered what a special place Wabash is.

It's very evident to me that athletics play an important part in the everyday life of the school and traditions here are long-standing. I witnessed my first Chapel Sing during Homecoming Week-it was loud, stirring, and strong-exactly the type of spirited event that many schools only wish they could replicate.

On the athletic fields, I have already been fortunate enough to be a part of wins against nationally-ranked Albion College in football, which was the first in the series for the Little Giants since 1989, and versus nationally-ranked Hope College in soccer. Of course, I take full credit for both successes!

Well, it's 2:14 a.m., I guess I better call it quits for the night and head back to my apartment. If I hurry, I can probably still catch the late edition of SportsCenter. See you on the sidelines.