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Publish date: Apr 26, 2011

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Picture beats a thousand words

By David Pickle

Adelphi’s student-athlete orientation video didn’t get a mention at the Academy Awards show in February. But if there were a prize for Best Short Subject to Define College Athletics Expectations, Adelphi student-athletes and staff might possess an Oscar now.

To be clear, there’s nothing fancy about the nine-minute video. But it does hit a communications bull’s-eye for information and entertainment.

David Akinyooye and Erika Loomer during a taping session.

The idea was born when Assistant Athletics Director Suzette McQueen became aware that student-athlete orientation sessions had become increasingly less effective over time. The sessions had gone from a full day involving various groups such as public safety, residential life, academic services and media relations to a two-hour event “where we tried to cram in as much as we could, knowing that we couldn’t keep their attention.”

McQueen did notice, however, that the student-athletes perked up when the public safety staff provided a PowerPoint presentation. And from there came the idea: An entertaining video might generate more focus.

So, over the summer of 2010, McQueen joined basketball player David Akinyooye and volleyball player Erika Loomer (a member of the Adelphi Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) in figuring out what content from the student-athlete handbook could be treated with video.

It included a welcome from AD Robert Hartwell and a few words from athletic trainer Mike Gavagan, along with descriptions of various Adelphi programs. But the highlight was a pair of skits emphasizing the right approach to academics.

In those skits, Akinyooye shows how to deal with the temptation of choosing a party over studying while Loomer demonstrates how to be engaged in class. Both used clever scripting and editing to convey the messages with a laugh.

“Watching ourselves on the big screen was a little weird, but we got tons of positive responses not only from other athletes but from administrators, as well,” Akinyooye said.

Loomer said: “At first, we weren’t sure how it was going to turn out or all come together or if everyone would get the message we were trying to put out. But many of the athletes came up to me afterwards and said that hearing it from your peers as opposed to having it told to you made it more effective.”

Another student-athlete, Kwesi Peters, handled the videotaping and editing (the overall cost was less than $500).

“All the filming took about three hours,” he said. “We set up in the gym, the pool, the main field and tennis courts, as well as in the classroom. As for post-production, it took about five hours. But it was fun. The out-takes were very funny.”

McQueen can’t say for sure that having student-athletes watch a peer-produced video will have any long-term effects, but she said that everybody did seem to enjoy it, which was definitely a step in the right direction.

Hartwell said he was most pleased with how student-athletes took it on themselves to reinforce their value as role models and community citizens.

“This was an educational sensation because the message was real and fun,” Hartwell said. “We noted that the buzz lasted a long time compared to a lecture from the AD.”