By Pat Mariboe
Senior Sports Writer
If you have ever attended an event contest at Washington College, you’ve probably heard the loud and boisterous voice of Jason Bryden echoing from the speakers.
Bryden, the current coordinator of athletics statistics and media services, and current fan favorite of many students at WC, is entering his 11th year working for the school. Originally named the assistant sports information director in August 2006, he was promoted to his current position in the summer of 2013.
“While I started in August 2006, my first visit to WC was in June of that year for my interview,” Bryden said. “I got to the school about two hours before my interview, so I had time to walk around campus a little bit, and I immediately noticed how beautiful the campus was. Combine that with the high academic reputation the school has and my first impression of WC was a very high one.”
Along with working as a public address announcer for many of WC’s games, Bryden also helps facilitate several gameday operations for all of the college’s 17 varsity sports. Bryden can sometimes be seen sitting court-side at a basketball or volleyball game with his laptop in front of him, meticulously writing each and every statistic that occurs during the game. Along with providing students and athletes alike with updated box scores, he is also responsible for many of the game recaps that are published on the school’s official athletic website.
Bryden views the legendary Los Angeles Dodger’s broadcaster, Vin Scully as a personal hero of his. Although he isn’t yet at Scully’s level of 66 years being the voice of the Dodgers, he still holds Scully and many others in high regards.
“I fell in love with sports at a very early age, probably around six-years-old or so,” said Bryden. “In the four major sports, MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL, all the teams I started rooting for at an early age I still root for today, the New York Mets, Chicago Bears, New York Knicks and New York Rangers. In 2009, I became an Arsenal fan in soccer. My two favorite athletes of all-time are Walter Payton and Patrick Ewing, in that order.”
Bryden got his first glimpse of the sports field when he attended SUNY New Paltz, and he owes a lot of his success to his experience there.
“My first taste of collegiate athletic communications came when I was in college at New Paltz in New York,” Bryden said. “The first full day I was at New Paltz as a freshman, I walked to the gym and saw an ad for student help. I went to the meeting and got a job in the sports information office and I really enjoyed working in it my first two years at New Paltz.
My first two years out of college, I worked at a bank, but I knew I didn’t want to work in banking forever even though I did like the people I worked with.”
It certainly wasn’t a clear-cut path for Bryden during his journey early on in his career and he faced much adversity before finally being able to call Chestertown his new home. While working at the bank, Bryden was alerted to a new position that had just opened for a sports information worker and he knew that it was an opportunity he couldn’t resist.
“The spark, which dissipated for a while, was reignited one spring night in 2003 when I saw an opening for a sports information position at a college in upstate New York,” he said. “While I didn’t get it, just seeing that posting was an epiphany for me and I knew I wanted to work in collegiate athletic communications. A few months later in August 2003, Rick Leddy at Southern Connecticut offered me a position and I didn’t make the same mistake that I had made the prior summer, as I was very fortunate to get a second chance. I am forever thankful to Rick for taking a chance on me 13 years ago and letting me start my professional career in the field.
I have gotten to work with some very outstanding people in the athletic communications field, first as an undergrad at New Paltz, and then professionally at Southern Connecticut, then Albany, and here at Washington College. I have learned from all of them and appreciate all that they have done for me. I also want to thank all of the student workers I have had over the years who have helped me out immensely.”
One of those people that Bryden mentioned having a huge impact on his career and life at WC is current Assistant to the Athletic Director for Communications & Academic Support, Phil Ticknor, who works closley with Bryden.
“Jason is in his 11th year working at the College and I am in my 16th, so most of my time here has been spent working with him,” he said. “It’s been productive — prior to Jason, we had an intern in my office for one year, but before that it was a one-person operation. Over time, we’ve shaped Jason’s role to focus on certain areas, including being the primary point person for statistics and historical archives. I think Jason has been a welcome addition to the community. He has done an outstanding job with his duties and is always friendly and supportive with our student-athletes and coaches.”
Although such a popular voice and presence on campus, not many people get an insight into the inner-workings and everyday life of Bryden.
“Usually when I come into the office, the first thing I do is check my e-mail and then handle any tasks that need to be handled,” he said.
“Some of those tasks are stat files, media requests, and requests from people on campus. On game days, I have office work that needs to get done before the game. I try to get out to the contest around 90 minutes to two hours before to get everything set up, such as getting the program ready to putting the programs out for the fans.
I try to, if I can, to write some of the recap if I am responsible for the story during the game if possible. For baseball and softball, it is quite easy, where as volleyball and basketball are a little more difficult due to the pace of play. For a lot of home contests, I go home and write the story from home. Most road contests, I write the story from home. Currently, I am responsible for player nominations for the Centennial Conference and sending e-mails to opponents to obtain what the office needs for the contests and I do a lot of that work on Sundays to get ahead for the week watching television,” he said.
Its not all work for Bryden.
“Something I really like to do on days where I have a late afternoon or night game is to get a workout in at some point during the day. Quite often it is the first thing I do when I get in and it’s a good way to kick off the day, even if it’s on a day where there is no game. On weekends when there is a home contest, I really enjoy going to the dining hall and having brunch to fill up for the day. Also, after many contests at Kibler Field at Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium, I join the teams at their tailgates. It’s a nice way to wind down following a contest, chat with people and get some outstanding food.”
When not in his office in the Cain Athletic Center, Bryden can be seen patrolling the Cater Walk to and from the dining hall with a Mountain Dew and a take-out box in hand, sometimes mingling with various student athletes along the way. Whenever you’d like to know who won the 1994 Stanley Cup Final or who led the MLB in homeruns in 2002, Bryden is your man. A walking sports encyclopedia, Bryden is always open to having lengthy chats about any and everything sports. For those who don’t get the pleasure of talking sports with Bryden in person, he usually posts a daily sports trivia question on his Facebook page for those brave enough to test the brainpower of Bryden.
Bryden has been working at the school for over a decade now, which means he has seen many talented athletes come and go. However, with great athletes come great memories, which Bryden was eager to discuss.
“I have many memories here, but the three that stand out the most are both men’s lacrosse related,” said Bryden. “The first one was meeting Dick Vermeil in February 2010 prior to a men’s lacrosse game against Goucher, as his grandson was on the team. He was very nice to me and actually asked me where I watched Super Bowl XXXIV, where he led the St. Louis Rams to a 23-16 win over the Tennessee Titans. For him to ask me that question is something I’ll never forget.
The second was them winning War on the Shore in 2013 here in Chestertown. To come back from 6-3 down entering the fourth quarter to win 7-6 made it extra special. They kept at it and found a way to win. I will never forget Hunter Nowicki Class of 2014, scoring with his off-hand to win the game and them running out the clock on the north side of the stadium with all the students going crazy on the hill. I got to do PA for the game and to get to announce the Charles B. Clark Cup presentation to Washington College was an amazing feeling.
The third one was getting to broadcast baseball’s season opener in 2016 against New Paltz. To see WC play my alma mater was really special for me, and to get to broadcast it was a dream come true. Even though I had graduated New Paltz 15 years earlier and I knew nobody on the New Paltz baseball team, it was still an emotional day. I spent a lot of the broadcast, when time permitted, telling the listeners about New Paltz. The Shoremen won 14-0, but it is a day I will never forget.”
Although sports will always be Bryden’s first passion, he lists the WC faithful as a close second. He expressed his thanks and grace for all of the support he has been shown and talked about how the WC community will always hold a special place in his heart.
“The community here at WC has been great to me,” he said. “A lot of incredible people here at Washington College, from the staff to the faculty to the students, have embraced me since day one. I have gotten to meet many incredible students over the years and quite a few of them I’ve gotten to stay in touch with over the years after they have graduated. I always enjoy seeing them whenever they come back to WC for a game, an alumni event, Birthday Ball, or some other type of event or if I see them in my travels. It always makes me feel good when the student-athletes and coaches thank me for being at the game, whether it’s to do statistics, announce, or in many cases, both.”