'None Better'

Our retiring sports information director looks back on a 40-year career at St. Lawrence.

Wally Johnson

Recapping 40 years in 500 words isn’t easy…but to avoid the ire of my fellow retiree and long-time magazine editor Neal Burdick ’72, I will give it a try.

I want to say that I am hanging up something after my tenure as St. Lawrence University’s sports information director, but what does a sports information director hang up these days? Actually, those who know me or have seen my office wonder if I am capable of hanging up anything at all. We still do use the phone, although much less than even four or five years ago, as email, texting, Skpe and sundry other forms of modern communication have entered our lives. And, I certainly don’t plan to hang up my cameras, as photography is on my list of things to do as a retiree.

I arrived in Canton in the summer of 1975, looking forward to entering the world of college sports publicity. The original plan was to stay at St. Lawrence for a year or two and then move on to something bigger and better. I did do some interviewing at other places in the 1980s and a couple of times in the 1990s, but as far as I was concerned, when it came down to making a decision on a potential move, there were bigger, but none better.

My St. Lawrence career has spanned five decades, and perhaps could have gone a few more years, but I do look forward to time to myself and the chance to view games as a spectator and fan. My chosen profession often requires seven-day, 70-hour weeks, but those usually occur around the start of seasons or NCAA or other post-season tournament times so the bother is significantly less than it might otherwise be. Any number of factors make the long hours and all-night bus rides a little more tolerable, and most track back to that “none better” statement.

The athletics program at St. Lawrence has grown significantly through the course of my career, from the 13 sports offered in 1975-76 to the current 32-sport program which is enjoying just tremendous success. Fortunately, the athletics and overall University administrations were supportive from the start. As the program began its growth, I did not have to argue hard to get help in my efforts to cover it as well as possible. We progressed from secretaries to interns to graduate assistants and finally to full-time assistants. Our current staff of three has helped create and maintain today’s outstanding web page and all the bells and whistles that go with it.

I have gained a plethora of life-long friends in my SLU career. Current and former staff members are a big part of my core group of friends, while alumni, almost all of them former athletes, populate my Facebook friends list. The quantity and enthusiasm of that friends group is what tells me it has been 40 years well-spent.