Welcoming the "New Wally"

Aaron Todd '00, M'06

As a kid who grew up in Canton, I spent my fair share of Friday and Saturday nights in Appleton Arena. My father bought general admission tickets, so we showed up 45 minutes before the opening faceoff to watch the teams warm up and to ensure that neither our traditional parking spot on Maple Street nor “our seats” were taken.

I loved the games, of course, but there were two other things I couldn’t wait to do when I went to a game: Devour a Pub cookie, and read the game program’s “Wally World” column, written by former Director of Athletic Media Relations Wally Johnson, who retired in May after 40 years at St. Lawrence.

In my world, Wally was a celebrity. Not only did he write an entertaining column for the game program, he was on the radio broadcast team. In 1988, when I was in fourth grade, I listened to Wally call the national championship game against Lake Superior State, going to bed way past my normal bedtime with tears in my eyes after the Saints lost in overtime. You can imagine how excited I was when he informed me that I’d been selected as a graduate assistant in his department one year after my graduation from St. Lawrence in 2001. 

Working with Wally helped me understand why he is so beloved and respected. He’s a venerable institution at St. Lawrence and in the field of sports information. He was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 2013 and earned the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. So it goes without saying that it’s incredibly humbling to be filling his shoes.

A lot has changed in athletic communications in the 13 years since I left campus. We live stream video of every athletic contest that we can, within technological limitations. We no longer send out press releases and box scores to media via fax, and we now push out stories directly to Saints fans through social media.

But while much has changed, there are several constants that remain. Our student-athletes still work hard every day to wring every last drop out of their experience at St. Lawrence, both on and off the field. Our coaches still see themselves as educators, viewing the playing field as an extension of the classroom. And the guy occupying the office in Augsbury 102 still has a beard, loves the Red Sox (13 years in New England made me a convert), and will do his best to tell the Saints’ story.

Since my return to campus in June, a lot of people have said, “Oh, you’re the new Wally!” One of those people asked if I was sick of being asked that yet.

“No,” I said. “I don’t think that will ever get old.”

Aaron Todd ’00, M’06 was named assistant athletic director for communications and marketing in April. He was a member of the cross country and track and field teams at St. Lawrence. After completing his GA assignment at St. Lawrence, he was the sports information director at Bates College and Merrimack College and was the communications and marketing manager for the Brown University Sports Foundation.