As the athletics communications industry continues to evolve, Texas A&M’s Shelby Hild is an example of an SID that does more than stat-keeping, media credentials, and the other typical SID duties.
“When I was at Illinois State, and even at UMKC, I was so much more than an SID,” Hild said. “I was a photographer, a videographer, a social media manager, [and] even a director of operations to an extent.”
Hild spent three years at Illinois State as the Assistant Director of Athletic Communications for volleyball, softball, and swim & dive before joining Texas A&M in August. Social media was an emphasis on her role at Illinois State as she increased twitter engagements for softball by 104% and volleyball by 93%.
While at Illinois State, she also worked with non-profit organization Team IMPACT, which connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with collegiate athletic teams.
“Getting the opportunity to play a small role within the Illinois State softball program’s partnership with Team IMPACT is one of my favorite projects I’ve ever been a part of,” Hild said. “The team was paired with a little girl who had juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) and her parents were alums of ISU.”
“It was a perfect match, and it was cool to help provide content that showcased how the relationship developed over 2-3 years,” Hild added. “The team organized activities with her, surprised her with a trip to Arizona with the team and put together informational videos that explained what her disease was and how it affects her. I would highly recommend encouraging your teams to get involved with Team IMPACT. It helped remind me that there’s so much more to life than sports.”
Hild also spent a year at University of Missouri - Kansas City, widely known as UMKC, as the primary contact for men’s basketball, volleyball, cross country, track and field, and soccer. Kansas City co-hosted the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships in 2017, where Hild worked with the NCAA media relations staff to put on the event.
“Luckily, the NCAA Media Relations staff took on most of the behind-the-scenes needs for the championship, but it was one of the coolest experiences of my professional career thus far,” Hild said of the event. “As SIDs, I think we take for granted at times the opportunities we get to experience. People would have killed to get the chance to be courtside for the national championship match, and I was able to watch it from a courtside table. It’s moments like that that make the hard days and long nights worth it.”
Over the past three months, Hild has been making the adjustment from working at smaller Division-I schools on the media relations staff of one of the most prominent athletic programs in the country at Texas A&M.
“The best part of being at Texas A&M is the availability [of] resources,” Hild said. “I’ve got a great team of individuals who want to help build the Aggie brand, and the resources to get it done. At the mid-major level, everyone wants to be like the Power 5s but don’t necessarily have the staffing or resources to do so.”
Surely, the culture, tradition, environment, and several other factors set Power 5 schools like A&M apart from the smaller Division-I schools.
“My favorite part about working here so far is just the culture and the tradition that A&M is built on. It’s hard to explain, but being an Aggie is special and no one knows a stranger here. From the outside looking in, everyone wants to be a part of it, but from the inside out, you don’t know how to explain it. College Station reminds me a lot of home, and I love every part of it.”
Hild added that the transition from Illinois State to Texas A&M has been smooth, particularly because she was already familiar with the day-to-day duties of a volleyball and softball SID. However, she did acknowledge some key differences between the schools.
“Although the sports are the same, the level of competition is higher, and so are the expectations,” Hild said. “The main differences are that I can be a lot more hands-off in the day-to-day stuff at A&M and focus more on long-term goals, big picture items and traditional SID work.”
Outside of her new duties with Texas A&M, Hild is also the vice chair of the CoSIDA Job Seekers Committee, the clearinghouse for all job opportunities within the association and will serve as a professional development resource for those seeking employment within the field of athletics communication.
Hild explained how some of the new changes to the industry as well as the pandemic have forced the committee to adapt to help create exposure for all opportunities.
“When the pandemic started, Matt McCollester and I got together and tried to decide how the committee could best help the membership,” Hild said. “Traditionally, the Job Seekers Committee has focused its attention on the annual convention and putting job holders and job seekers in the same room. With the convention moving virtual, we amped up our resources, which includes year-round resume review and job posting and transaction graphics on our @CoSIDAJobs Twitter account.”
“We are starting to see an influx of job postings of all varieties, from internships to full-time positions, to schools and conference offices, and traditional SID work to creative positions,” Hild added. “It’s been reassuring to know that our industry is starting to add staff members back and creating new positions that help offer support to existing roles.”
Hild’s passion for helping others has been a key piece of the Job Seekers Committee.
“I am a 2 on the Enneagram (brownie points if you know what that means), but I love putting others before myself, and my role with the Job Seekers Committee allows me to do it,” Hild said. “I’m very passionate about supporting women in the sports industry, but also lifting up young professionals as well. Serving alongside Matt McCollester, who has become a great friend and mentor to me, has allowed us to bounce ideas off each other and switch things up from what the Job Seekers Committee has traditionally done.”
Hild has been the beneficiary of CoSIDA’s programming herself, meeting her now co-worker Marissa Avanzato through the mentorship program. The two were also co-captains in the CoSIDA Fitness Challenge.
“I had known Marissa for a couple of years, meeting her at CoSIDA in 2018,” Hild said. “Her mentor at the time, Theresa Kurtz, was a good friend of mine and we had followed each other on Twitter, but never met in real life. We briefly kept in touch over the years, and then Jeremy Rosenthal made us CoSIDA Fitness Challenge co-captains when [COVID-19] quarantine started. The rest is history!”
“With Marissa moving into a new role, and me taking her previous position, it was a smooth transition, and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Hild added. “Everyone at Texas A&M has been extremely helpful, but still getting to work alongside the person who held the position previously made me feel comfortable jumping in right away and she’s been a great resource when I have questions.”
Networking and advocacy are two important things that Hild believes young professionals need to practice to be more successful in the industry.
“My biggest pieces of advice are to network and continue advocating for yourself. Some of my best friends have been people I’ve met in this industry,” Hild said. “When people say CoSIDA is one big, happy family, I wholeheartedly believe it. When it comes to advocating for yourself, it can be hard and uncomfortable, but those are the moments where I’ve always seen the biggest growth.
“Stand up for yourself, take care of your mental health and ask for help,” she added. “As SIDs, we’re always quick to say yes and have a hard time being selfish. If you don’t take a step back, enjoy the ride, find joy in what you do and find something you like to do outside of work, and take the time to do it, this industry will burn you out.”