Ashlee Brackett ’23 grew up around college sports at a young age with her dad being a Division III softball coach. She said she hoped to be involved with college sports in some way after graduating college. 

Fortunately, Elon University offers many outlets for their alumni to stay involved, she said. When it comes to sports, the school’s athletic department is one particular place where former students can remain employed for the school’s athletic teams. It is a “well-oiled machine” as described by Assistant Director of Athletic Communications for baseball Gray Aust.

Brackett and Aust graduated one year apart from each other in 2022 and 2023, respectively. They both worked in athletics when they were students and have found new roles as the primary sports information directors for teams such as women’s volleyball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer and men’s baseball

“I knew I wanted a job in sports, but I had no idea how many were out there that you could specialize in,” Brackett said. 

While she majored in journalism at Elon, she also tested out other potential jobs such as sports broadcasting and multimedia — along with being team manager for women’s volleyball. Though, she said she ultimately decided that her main passions were content creation and writing. 

Although her first job after graduating was with the Disney College Program, a national paid-internship program for college-age students, she remained in contact with Elon’s Assistant Director of Athletic Communications for men’s basketball and soccer Troy Sayles.

“I worked with Troy very closely in the athletic department as a student,” Brackett said. “So I formed that relationship and kind of put in his ear that if there's anything I can do to go back, let me know.”

Aust was involved in many sports organizations as a student, taking part in Elon Athletics Marketing, Sports Information and Elon Sports Vision.

Benjamin Berfield | Elon News Network

Assistant Director of Communications for Athletics Gray Aust '22 became one of the primary sports information directors for Elon University after working for athletics when he was an undergraduate student.

Shortly after graduating, Aust said Associate Athletics Director of Strategic Communications Jason Knavel asked him about assuming a new role within the athletic department. 

Aust and Brackett both highlighted the importance of having a support system they could rely on when transitioning to the athletic department. They also credited certain members of the athletic department who helped each of them get accustomed to their new roles. 

Aust said people such as Knavel and Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations Jason Chandler were integral toward him making the transition to SID after graduating. Aust said the key was creating a relationship with both of them to the point where they could trust him. 

“Having that support system in place was a big part for me,” Aust said. “Jason Knavel and Chandler all really helped me adapt in this new role and it was a really big part of accepting the job because it felt like home here.”

For Brackett, she said Sayles was really helpful when she had to learn the elements of being an SID for the school’s sports teams. She credited his teaching as a big reason why she feels comfortable in her role. 

“I learned what a sports information director does and the background of an SID,” Brackett said. “Troy was a great mentor to me in showing all the aspects that I could grow my career in.”

Brackett said anyone, including newly graduated students, interested in working in the athletics department should be open to the opportunities presented. She also encouraged students who are passionate about a certain area of sports to explore those interests within Elon’s athletic department. 

“Even if you’re not 100% qualified, it doesn’t hurt to step out on that ledge and try to see what happens if you’re passionate about a skill,” Brackett said. 

Today, Brackett said she sees some of her previous responsibilities as a student — such as content creation, writing and tracking statistics — as part of her job as an SID. 

“In the SID role, I still find my passion in content through photography, graphic design and videography,” Brackett said. “I’m still looking at statistics, and then there’s also the journalism background to find things that make our athletes more than just an athlete.” 

Aust also said it’s important to go with one’s gut when working in athletics. He said people like him are the ones making final calls, which is why they have to trust themselves. 

“If you have a passion, go for it,” Aust said. “I had a passion of working with athletes and just being into the statistical side and just the sport side in general, so I just followed that passion.” 

Aust said students transitioning to Elon’s athletic department can further open the door toward learning something new. 

“I think it’s just great to learn from them and be able to adapt to the changing times because they’re also going through the same thing,” Aust said. “It’s like a different world than what they’re used to and so with us coming into it, we’re all kind of learning that journey together.