Sports media suits Foote brothers
When the eldest of the Foote brothers first became interested in sports media relations as a career choice, he had no idea that his younger brothers might want to join in the fun.
Jeremy, Brandon and Cory Foote have all made their way from Wayne High School into the world of athletic communications, taking their love of sports and turning it into career opportunities that took slightly different paths to the same destination.
The common thread for all three was Wayne State College, where each of them worked with current Wayne State sports information director Mike Grosz, either as an intern or in a summertime capacity.
"To have three brothers from the same family go into the profession is pretty neat, and to see two of them at major Div. I schools speaks for itself," Grosz said. "It's something you don't plan. It just kind of worked out that way."
Jeremy was the first to enter the world of sports information. The 2002 Wayne High graduate majored in computer science and sports management at Wayne State College and was hired by the University of Nebraska in 2010, where he currently serves as an assistant communications director.
"I worked under Mike at Wayne State, and about a year before finishing up I did a two-month volunteer internship during the summer in the Nebraska Media Relations Office," the eldest Foote brother said. "I've always been a sports fan and decided I didn’t want to sit behind a computer and type computer code all day."
Not long after that came Brandon, a 2006 Wayne High graduate who graduated from Wayne State in 2010 with a degree in sport management and completed his master's degree two years later while working alongside Grosz, and was hired in 2013 as the assistant director of sports media at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City.
"After I had first graduated from Wayne State I was really having trouble finding a job in sports because they wanted at least two years of experience and many jobs also preferred a master's degree," the middle Foote brother said. "I was hired at Walmart in Vermillion to work the overnight shift, and after one shift I knew that wasn't for me. I called Mike as soon as I got home from work because I saw that he had an opening for a graduate assistant. I drove down to Wayne that day and was offered the position the next afternoon."
Cory watched his older brothers as they entered the field, and after graduating from Wayne High in 2010, he went to Nebraska-Kearney to get his degree in sports administration comprehensive. He worked with Grosz and brother Brandon for one summer and spent some time with older brother Jeremy in Lincoln before taking the sports information assistant job at Duke University in North Carolina two years ago.
"I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in sports in some fashion," Cory Foote said. "With Jeremy and Brandon both working as SIDs, I was able to gain an understanding of what exactly a job in sports information looks like and ask them about the best and worst parts of the job. Then when I went to UNK, I took a public relations class that made me realize I had a passion for the writing side of the job."
All three brothers have a variety of duties at their respective colleges that keep them busy throughout the school year.
Jeremy serves as the communications contact for the Husker baseball team and also helps out with football. He also serves as the internet content coordinator for the Huskers.com website and helps with the layout of several media guides. His 2011 volleyball media guide was awarded a Best in the Nation award by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Brandon keeps busy covering all 17 sports at Briar Cliff, writing news releases, creating media guides and taking photos at games. He also manages the school's athletics website.
Cory's main focus is on the schools track and field teams and men's and women's fencing. He also helps out with duties at home football and basekball games, from writing summaries to updating social media. If you see the referees looking at replay during a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, chances are good you'll see the youngest of the Foote brothers, as he'll be the one running the replay monitor.
The brothers get a lot of feedback from people when they tell about how their other brothers are also in the same business.
"Since I was the first one, I told them both to do something else where there are less hours and more pay, but neither one listened," the eldest brother joked.
"I think it's very cool that we are all working in the same field," Brandon said. "When people ask me what I do and I tell them and then I say that my brothers are also in the same field they often think that is neat that we are all doing the same stuff and that they say we should make a family business out of it."
"People here at Duke are always surprised when I tell them I have two brothers working as SIDs," Cory added. "It’s something that has made it really easy to understand what is going on in each other’s lives. We all work long hours with our different sports, so we can relate to each other when it’s the middle of the season and there’s not a day off in sight. But we also understand that getting to work with the athletes and coaches is the reason we do what we do and makes it all worth it."
With all the time spent on the job, family gatherings are usually more about giving each other a bad time about their favorite pro teams than actually "talking shop," although they do occasionally contact one another for feedback or ideas for media guide designs.
"We may ask how work is going for each other but that is often the extent of it," Brandon said. "I like to kind of get away from work when possible and enjoy the time with family. We will pick each other's brains here and there for ideas, or I have requested media guides from Jeremy to see if there is anything we can maybe pull from there to put in our own, or I may get on the Duke website and see how they do some things; but for the most part when we are together, I prefer to just enjoy the time with family."
Cory, who is working on a part-time basis at Duke, said his older brothers have been great networking sources as he looks for a full-time job.
"We’ll talk about work every once in a while, but it’s mostly to check to see how each other’s teams are doing," he said. "The networking purpose is the biggest thing they both have done for me. With my position at Duke not full-time, they both are constantly passing along any job openings they see for me to apply for. Neither has ever hesitated to help me in any way."
And all three are grateful for the opportunity to have gotten their feet wet with the help of Grosz at Wayne State.
"Mike has had a huge impact on all three of our careers, mostly with Jeremy and Brandon being graduate assistants," Cory said. "During the summer after my junior year of college, I was looking to get some real experience in a sports information office and found that at Wayne State with Mike. Brandon was finishing up as a graduate assistant, so working and learning from both of them that summer helped me out tremendously."
"Growing up in Wayne, I knew Mike and I think I first started working for him in the summer, then I helped throughout the year," Jeremy said. "Baseball and softball was a good learning experience because sometimes we had both going on at the same time."
"What I think is even cooler than working in the same field (as my brothers) is the fact that all of us really have that same factor in that Mike Grosz essentially gave us our start," Brandon added. "I know we aren't the only ones who have gone on to have success after working for Mike, and that is really a testament to not only the kind of boss he is, but also just the person he is. He genuinely cares for the people who work for him and he wants to see them succeed in life. I don't know if Mike hears it enough from people but he is really an amazing person and I would just like to thank him for everything he has done for me."
Grosz said it was interesting how the three brothers all wound up in the same profession, and he's happy to have had a role in their growth in the field.
"They're three great guys and are all passionate about sports, and it's just natural that they're in SID field," Grosz said. "They were all die-hard into sports, and now Jeremy has a great future at Nebraska, Brandon gets to work NAIA national volleyball and basketball tournaments in Sioux City, and Cory's running video at Cameron Indoor Arena in Duke. I'd say they're all doing pretty well for themselves."