For the sixth consecutive year in a row, Alma College continues its legacy of having a student earn the Tom Renner Associate award. This award is given each year to one undergraduate student for the student’s successful service as a top sports information student in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, MIAA. This year the award was given to Alma’s 2020 graduate, Mason Ippel(’20).
“The Tom Renner Associate SID Award is presented to a student assistant at an MIAA member college sports information office for outstanding service as an undergraduate” said Alma College’s Sports Information Director for the Athletic Department, Matthew Moran. “It is named in honor of Tom Renner, the MIAA publicist from 1967-2008.”
In order for a student to be considered, they need to not only be a sports information student, but nominated by the school’s sports information director. Once being nominated, the student is then competing against other students, who were selected and within the MIAA conference. From there, the winner of the award is selected in the summer following the school year.
The Tom Renner award is given to students for their outstanding performance within their school’s sports information office and the work conducted within that office for some of the college’s teams.
“I worked directly with the sports information director for all four years at Alma” said Ippel. “My final year I was brought on as a student assistant to work more closely with the day-to-day operations and to have another level of responsibility. My responsibilities included recording stats for all sports, setting up the press box before games and tearing it down after, writing and distributing game day flyers, communicating with officials and covering wrestling and baseball more closely to write post game recaps.”
Each student worker would have their own specific responsibilities. In fact, Ippel even took his responsibility as an assistant outside of the office. He travelled with Alma’s baseball team on their spring break for their games in Florida.
“Mason worked insanely hard for it” said senior sports information student, Hunter Chovanec(’21). “He would be working in the office after football practice, in the morning and would stay late at night if asked. Mason never complained and was always ready to attack whatever project came to us. He had great enthusiasm and he made me a better worker/person along the way.”
Although Ippel was selected for the award in his senior year and for his many contributions to the college, many note the endless qualities he possessed to earn the award. Beyond his contribution to teams’ social media posts and videos as well as statistics and game recap analysis, Ippel possessed the necessary attitude to not only get work done in the sports information office, but to make him a stand out candidate through his dedication to the program.
“Mason is someone you love to have on your side” said Moran. “He is a leader and hard worker. He always has a positive attitude. He learned how to keep the statistics for many of the sports we have at Alma and you could trust they would be correct. He also has a great passion for sports and for creating engaging content on social media.”
Along with his drive and dedication to the program, Ippel always had his eyes set on achieving this award. It is something he had set out to earn for himself and the college.
“I was pretty excited to win the award” said Ippel. “It was definitely a goal of mine. It was a goal for the office, as well, to have someone win it because someone from Alma has won it 6 years in a row now.”
As mentioned earlier, Ippel is not the first Alma college student to earn the Tom Renner award. He is the sixth-consecutive winner of the award for the college. The first winner of the award was Brent Willis(’10) in 2010.
However, the six year streak for recipients at Alma started in 2015 with Grace Wheeler(’15) and was followed by Brad Vannatter(’16), Ali Holmquist(’17), Harrison LaLone(’18), Emily Jodway(’19) and Ippel.
“The Sports Information Department relies on our student-worker staff to help with the game day experience for every home athletic event, keeping the website up to date and creating video/content” said Moran. “We have been lucky to have students that come here with a passion for athletics and then after gaining experience in sports information they want to pursue it as professional career.”
With Ippel securing the tradition of Alma winning the Tom Renner award, the sports information office aims to continue helping students have access to working in a sports information field. Chovanec hopes to keep the tradition alive through his work at the sports information office and his work with Ippel by earning the award after his senior year.
“If I ever need advice I know [Ippel] is a call or text away, but this was also a team effort” said Chovanec. “Every student in this office works hard. If they gave an award for top sports information office, I believe ours would be right there in contention. Go Scots!”