by Eric McDowell, CoSIDA Past President
Imagine four sports communications professionals on a four-hour plus trip home after a productive convention. Imagine the discussion, the ideas that flow, and what thoughts they have for the future. Imagine the possibilities.
"We were driving back from the 2003 CoSIDA Convention in Cleveland and Geoff Hassard talked about getting involved," said Dennis O'Donnell, a CoSIDA Hall of Famer from the University of Rochester. "We suggested that he put in a bid to host the ECAC-SIDA workshop and he did, using his organizational skills and contacts."
Geoff Hassard's face lights up with ideas. Whether it is talking about a student-athlete or an upcoming post-season event on the SUNY Oneonta campus, those who know him can picture his smile and hear his laugh even if they are not in his office.
At the June CoSIDA convention, the SUNY Oneonta Assistant Director of Athletics/Sports Information Director will receive a 2019 25-Year Award for his long-time, award-winning service to the profession.
Retired Towson SID Dan O'Connell was the 2005-06 President of ECAC-SIDA the year that Geoff hosted that workshop.
"I was very impressed by his knowledge and care. Geoff came to me with the idea of hosting the workshop. He had a committee ready and convinced me that Oneonta would be the place to go for the workshop in my presidential year," said O'Connell. "Up to that point, it was the best workshop that ECAC-SIDA ever had. There was a bus trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame and there was a dinner at the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The programming was outstanding."
Geoff's service with CoSIDA and ECAC-SIDA led him to that opportunity. He served the regional organization as President and was on the board of directors. He was CoSIDA's Northeast College Division Board Representative from 2008-11. CoSIDA Hall of Famer and retired SID Roger Crosley, a long-time treasurer of ECAC-SIDA, knows Geoff from "way back," shall we say.
"His passion was evident from the time he started as an unpaid intern in my SID office at MIT (the Massachusetts institute of Technology). As Geoff grew in the profession, he realized how important it was to give back. His leadership in the athletic communications field is exceeded only by his talent and humility," said Crosley.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, located in his native Massachusetts, provided Geoff with his first full time opportunity in 1994. As the director and sole member of this NCAA Division III 19-sport "SID shop," he did it all, from releases and guides and student supervision and training, to hosting the year-end awards banquet and this new-fangled thing called … the world wide web. Imagine.
"Geoff and I go back to the days of the old Freedom Football Conference in the mid '90s, with him at WPI and me at Plymouth State," said Kent Cherrington of Lasell College, a former CoSIDA board member, ECAC-SIDA Past President and a long-standing fellow AAA Committee member. "In the early 2000s, we took an epic baseball vacation along with Scott Dietz (now at Wheaton) and his wife. We visited four major league stadiums in four days in four states and two countries, finishing it off with a minor league game in Rochester.
"It's hard to find an SID who cares more about this profession, who is respected more, and who is more enjoyable to be around," continued Cherrington.
Geoff joined Dennis, Roger and Kent in an exclusive club when he received ECAC-SIDA's Irving T. Marsh Award in 2015.
In July of 1999, Geoff and his wife Irene moved to Oneonta, NY, where their two then-young sons Garrett and Gunner became engaged in youth sports. As the Assistant Athletics Director, Geoff can take pride in many memories, including a weekly television show, a national championship on the soccer pitch, developing a full-time assistant, input on the senior management team, and painstakingly serving each Red Dragon student-athlete from 21 teams.
"It has been a great pleasure and honor to work with Geoff all these years," said Oneonta Director of Athletics Tracey Ranieri. "He is the most reliable, check-the-facts, stat focused and organized person I know. He put Oneonta on the map with forward thinking initiatives on our website and finds ways to celebrate student-athlete and department wide success.
"Geoff provides guidance, insight, drives policy and is a key stakeholder in decision making. He is a servant leader, always working for the team and doing what is best for the whole. I am proud to have him as a colleague and grateful for his commitment to Oneonta."
As mentioned, Hassard will receive a 25-Year Award at the 2019 Convention in Orlando, in the land where imaginations come to life. It is a fitting place for a fitting honor not only appreciated by him, but by all those whose lives he has touched. Yes, even those vets in the four-hour car ride home, that made it feel like only a four-minute ride. Time flies when you imagine.