By Kevin Christie
Division III athletics are unique in many ways. Each school finds itself responsible for keeping its own statistics, monitoring their teams’ performances and planning events. At Bluffton, Bill Hanefeld is an unsung hero of athletics.
In his thirteenth year at Bluffton as sports information director, Hanefeld has spent countless hours at sporting events, even hours after they have been over. The result of this hard work is up-to-date live stats, accurate post game stats and game recaps.
“There is a lot of information that we have to process in a short amount of time,” said Hanefeld. “For example, in football games we have four to five people on staff watching the game to keep track of tackles, runs and catches.”
Hanefeld relies heavily on the help of his student workers. A majority of Division III schools have two to three full-time staff within their sports information departments. Every team within the Ohio Athletic Conference has graduate assistants to help aid their SIDs. Hanefeld is the only full-time staff member within his department and credits his student workers with much of its success.
“That is what it’s all about for me,” said Hanefeld. “A lot of other schools have multiple full-time staff to run the department. Since I do not teach a class I feel like working with students here is the best way to spread my knowledge. Being hands-on and getting them involved in real-world experiences is rewarding for me.”
Student worker Joe Watkins has worked for two years with the department and has found the job enjoyable and useful. Watkins accompanies nine other students who work for Hanefeld throughout the year.
“Working in sports information allows me to do something I enjoy—watching sports—but also learn about an industry that I have interest in,” said Watkins.
Living in Bluffton allows for Hanefeld to be in touch with the community as well as many coaches who also live in the village. The close-knit environment within the athletic department has allowed Hanefeld to build meaningful relationships, he said.
“If I ever have a question about a team or a game the coaches here live so close by and want to help as much as they can, that’s what makes my job easy,” he said.