The Basketball Communicator
Next Stop: the Real World — 2016 grads share their experiences.
Meet English & secondary ed Major Matt Dykstra ’16, director of Sports Media Relations for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Q. You’re the director of sports media relations for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, an NBA Development League affiliated with the Miami Heat. Tell us about your position — what’s an average day like?
A. Because we are a smaller organization than some of the other professional sports teams we are competing with, I, along with all of the other front office employees, have many different responsibilities that might not specifically fall under my title. I am in charge of bridging the gap between our players and coaches and the Sioux Falls community. I coordinate any and all player appearances, player and coach interviews, and feature story requests that come in throughout the season. I am also in charge of setting up all stats equipment prior to each home game, and scheduling both stats and camera crews to ensure all of our positions are staffed for each home game. One of the best parts about my position is developing and creating basketball-related content to release to our fans via our website and various social media outlets. We’ve had numerous players and coaches come through our organization and eventually find their way on to NBA rosters and benches, and it’s always great finding excuses to catch up with each of them. Game days are by far the most busy and entertaining days of the year. Between getting there to set everything up in the morning, handling pre-game interviews and media, making sure equipment for both video and stats crews are working properly throughout the game, facilitating post-game interviews, and sending out a post-game recap each night, it sometimes adds up to about a 14- or 15-hour day. Days like those can be a bit overwhelming, but it boils down to this: my favorite sport is now my job, and it doesn’t get much better than that!
Q. Tell us about the challenges and rewards of your role.
A. One of the biggest challenges is when I have my hand in so many different things throughout the season, it’s hard to do everything to the best of my ability. There are times when it becomes easy to do the bare minimum, and grow complacent in getting different things done. My teammates and I have made it a point to constantly come up with new ideas and new ways to accomplish some of our everyday tasks, not only to keep ourselves happy, but to keep our fans happy as well. Deadlines and the pressure of getting things done on time can be stressful. It’s a challenge to ensure that I am on top of everything, especially as things present themselves without warning, which are impossible to prepare for. However, it has been important to me during those times to remember what a blessing it has been to work with this organization. I enjoy my job, even when it becomes overwhelming at times, and that has made all the difference. One of the greatest rewards of my current position is that I get to work with people, players, coaches, and I get to incorporate my writing ability into my work on a daily basis. Developing friendships and relationships with people from around the NBA Development League as well as people at the NBA level has been a great experience, and it’s something that happens every day. If anyone would have told me a year or two ago that I would be collaborating every day with Miami HEAT executives, I would have told them they were crazy. Yet, I’ve been granted that opportunity over the past year.
Q. Greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
A. I’ve been spoiled in my first year with the Skyforce. As an organization, the team won its third overall championship in April of 2016, and its first championship since becoming a member of the NBA Development League back in 2006. With the amount of roster turnover that happens at the Development League level, championships are often hard to come by. A team isn’t guaranteed that any of their players from the previous year will return, making it difficult to maintain success over a longer period of time. Last year I joked with one of our general managers saying, “Since we won a championship in my first season, I’m going to be expecting this every year now!” He replied, “I’ve been working here for over 10 years, and this is my first championship. You’re spoiled.” He was right. I was allowed the opportunity to experience winning the league’s highest honor in my first year on the job, and I don’t take that for granted. In my very short career, winning a title alongside the people I work with, and as a part of this organization, has been my greatest professional accomplishment thus far.
Q. You’re from Sioux Falls. How did you decide on Augustana?
A. I chose Augustana for a number of reasons. As any high school student might say at some point, I was ready to get out of town following graduation. I was initially reluctant to give Augustana a chance, but after I toured for the first time, the choice was pretty clear. I’ve always loved Sioux Falls, and have never lived anywhere else. Augustana provided its own, unique environment “away from home.” Yet, was still centrally located in a city that I know and love. I was smart, but have never been the smartest. Augustana does a great job of providing scholarships to all students with a wide range of academic abilities. I was also proud to carry on the family legacy, as my mom (Melissa Dykstra ‘91) and dad (Darin Dykstra ‘91) both attended and graduated from Augustana. I also saw, even before attending, how connected Augustana was with the Sioux Falls community, and how beneficial receiving an education (specifically in English and education) from Augustana could be.