If you happen to catch a University of Arizona basketball game over the next month,
chances are you’ll see Matt Ensor (’11) sitting an arm’s length from the team bench. Matt is the Associate Director of Communication Services, serving as the media liaison for the Wildcat basketball team, currently ranked in the top 10 in the nation. A native of Oregon, Matt’s professional journey is a testament to his work ethic and drive. He enjoyed VCU’s magical ride to the Final Four and has worked at a Division Two school in Georgia most people have never heard of. The key is that he has valued each and every experience.
This Q&A was conducted by CSL graduate student Andy Hogue.
Andy Hogue: What aspect of the CSL program most prepared you for the position that you currently have?
Matt Ensor: I would say there were several aspects of my time in the CSL that contributed to where I am today:
Networking: I wasn’t really a believer or practitioner of networking before entering the program. Meeting new people and maintaining relationships with others in our field is crucial. If someone can bring up your name in a conversation, you never know where it can lead you. For example, I first heard about this position at the University of Arizona opening up through Scott Day (my old boss at VCU). Networking is also key in hiring because it’s essentially people who can give good references on your behalf.
Ability to work on the fly: Every day I come in to work is different than the one before. Multitasking is key because I am constantly working on something and forced to change gears and switch to a different project. My course load and coursework in class while I was a CSL student helped me prepare for that type of work style while working as a SID in the Athletic Communications office helped me refine that work style.
AH: What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome working in this industry and how did you do it?
ME: I would say the biggest obstacle I faced was securing my first full time job. In the final months of being a CSL students and the two months after graduation, I was unable to get a job. I had interviews with Washington State, Lehigh and West Florida. I wasn’t able to secure any of them with just the one year of experience as a GA in the CSL. I didn’t work in the Sports Info office as an undergrad at the University of Oregon, which came back to bite me at that juncture of my life. It was only when Georgia Southwestern State called me about a paid internship that I took with them. It was a $800 a month stipend (pre taxes) that included a free dorm room in a freshman building and a meal plan. The CSL encouraged me to take it and to put my head down and work as hard as I can and turn it into another opportunity. That’s what happened when I wound up at the University of New Mexico in a full-time capacity after my 11 months in Americus, Ga.
AH: How has the CSL network helped you not only getting started in the industry, but each step along the way in your career?
ME: After graduating graduate school, I think the CSL Network has been the most helpful with job opportunities. When I went to New Mexico, Tim Lampe (former CSL faculty member) helped me out as a former employee there. When I went to Arizona, it was Scott Day who first referenced me to the job. I have had classmates approach me about possible job opportunities to gauge interest. On top of that, I consider much of my Network as resources for any potential job I may want to pursue in the future at their institutions or within the same conference.
AH: What is the best advice you would give to a current student in the CSL in reference on how to manage their expectations of trying to get that dream job right after graduation?
ME: I think my experience presents several important pieces of advice:
Be prepared and open to move anywhere: I went to a state I had never been to after graduation as did a lot of my classmates. You can’t really afford to be picky on where your first job will be right out of grad school. It’s your first step, not your final step. You can always move for your next job.
Treat any job you have like it’s the biggest thing you have going on. When you act above your job or are too good for it, it’s one of the most off-putting things you can do. Chip Kelly had a quote that I love about this when he became the head coach of the Eagles. “The big time is where you’re at. If you just do your job every single day (and) come with a passion, appreciate where you are, (then) good things are going to happen to you.”. He went on to discuss how when Kelly was coaching at New Hampshire, he thought he was at the big time. When he went to Oregon, he thought the same thing. This is important because if you work as hard as you can at whatever job you are at, it will get noticed by a lot of people.
AH: How do you balance life and work being a Sports Information Director?
ME: I would say this is the biggest thing I struggle with and fail at personally. I am one of those people that is “married to their job”. Part of it is by necessity. When we have a home game that’s at 7 p.m., I usually arrive at 10 or 11 a.m. and don’t leave until midnight. I obviously travel a lot for away games, so I log a lot of hours during the season. Being 30 years old without a wife or children, I think kind of encourages this in my own warped sense of things. You spend a lot of holidays with the team somewhere during the season and can’t afford to take time off or miss a game for weddings and etc. Luckily Coach Miller and my own boss are always encouraging me to strive for a better life-work balance. I would like to have a family in the future and am trying to work at having a better balance. I have the mindset of a young lawyer joining a new firm, and I just need to outwork everyone and be the first in, last out of the office. Tampering this competitive nature of mine is part of the struggle.
AH: What is the most creative piece of content you have produced as a Sports Information Director?
ME: I pride myself in trying to be as creative and original as I can in my content in whatever form it takes; game notes, infographics, video concept, etc. I would say one of the most creative was trying to quantify how Arizona Basketball is “everyone’s big game”. When we play on the road, it’s always the other team’s “blackout”, “whiteout” or any other “out” type of promotion. So I began charting the official attendance at all of our away games and comparing it to the average crowd for the year before we played there. On average opposing crowds were 46.8% larger for Arizona in Pac-12 play. It’s a note that really resonated with announcers and Coach Miller would often reference it to the team.