Ozarks Experience Drives Sports Enthusiast Gallegos

Release Date: 4/23/2012

It has been a couple of years now since the voice of Daniel Gallegos ('10) has been heard on the airwaves here at Ozarks. But if things go as planned, Gallegos hasn't signed off the college athletics scene. Inspired by his never-wavering love for the game of baseball and his experience working in the Ozarks Sports Information Office, Gallegos has embarked on a path that he believes will lead to the perfect career - a career in the field of sports information.

Ozarks grad Daniel Gallegos.

For 2010 Ozarks graduate Daniel Gallegos, a workstudy position in the Ozarks Sports Information Office helped him pursue his dream of a career in the field of sports information.

Gallegos has always loved sports. He played baseball almost all his life, and his high school baseball team at Sylvan Hills High School actually won a state championship. But ironically, Gallegos said it was his lack of playing skills that led to his involvement in the Ozarks sports program and ultimately shaped his decision to go into the field of sports information.

"Baseball is my favorite sport," he said, "but although I had played it all my life, I was not ever very good. But I stuck with it because I loved the game and being on a team." As his high school baseball career came to a close, Gallegos said he thought that his playing days were over…he really didn't think that playing at the college level was an option. But he still loved watching the game, so he put down "baseball" as one of his interests when he filled out his college housing questionnaire. "When I put that, all I intended to make known was that I loved to watch baseball," he said. But that one single answer landed him on the radar of Ozarks Baseball coach Jimmy Clark, and eventually resulted in a position on the Eagles baseball team.

"Fast-forward to the eve before our first game," Gallegos said. "After practice was over, Coach Clark announced to the team that we needed someone to play the batter walk-ups and announce our players as they came to bat. No one, including me, jumped at that request. So, Coach Clark said, 'Daniel, I heard you are good at this stuff, you are doing it!' Of course I was not going to say no to my coach, but the reality was that I had not ever announced a single game in my life!" Although he couldn't have known it at the time, Clark's decision to put Gallegos in the press box set into motion the events that would shape the young man's future.

The prospect of being in the press box as a freshman was daunting. As he climbed the stairs, Gallegos thought about the one thing he felt that he had going for him - he had grown up watching baseball, listening to the announcers, honing in on the things they did that made their game-calling unique. He settled into his seat and took the microphone in his hand. It felt good, almost like it belonged there. He heard himself begin to speak, calling out the names of his teammates. There was no denying it…he was hooked. "Being in the press box announcing and playing music quickly became something I loved doing," he said.

The job in the press box became part of his game day routine. Climb the stairs, take the microphone, call out the names of the players, tell a little about each one…. Working in the press box gave Gallegos a new-found confidence. It also gave him a chance to get to know Ozarks' Sports Information Director, Josh Peppas. As Gallegos and Peppas worked together over the course of that season, during lulls in the action their conversations often turned to Peppas' responsibilities as SID, and to Gallegos' interest in sports journalism. Gallegos soon realized that sports journalism and sports information had a lot in common. Late in the spring, as the season came to an end, Peppas offered Gallegos an unexpected opportunity. "Would you be interested in working as student assistant sports information director?" Peppas asked. Gallegos was thrilled.

So began his sophomore year. It wasn't baseball season, but every day he walked over to the SID's office to find out what Peppas had planned for that day. His new responsibilities covered a wide range of tasks, from sports photography, to helping with stats, and eventually to doing color commentary for the radio broadcasts. "I loved the job," Gallegos recalled, "especially the times when Josh and I would be in the office just talking about sports. I loved that [being SID] entailed being on a college campus and dealt with one school's athletic teams. It gave me a great sense of pride to be an Ozarks Eagle. Being a student at the time, I also loved the interaction I had with all the athletes."

They say time flies when you're having fun. In what seemed a blink of an eye, Gallegos had left his sophomore year behind. But the passing of time and his experience working in the athletic office made Gallegos more determined than ever to pursue this new dream of working in the sports information field. He declared his major - Strategic Communication - and chose a minor in Radio/Television/Video. They seemed to be the programs that would best give him the skills he needed as an SID. He also began to take on more responsibility in the office, writing press releases for the athletic department, and helping Peppas create the media guides used by the different sports teams.

He learned new things…courses in Public Relations Principles, Strategic Communication Planning, News writing, and Video Editing all taught him new skills and concepts. He worked on his radio programming, looking for ways to create his signature on-air style. He learned other things as well. He watched Peppas tackle his day-to-day responsibilities, and began to understand that each person's work has a 'voice' of its own. "Josh is incredibly good at his job, but you wouldn't know it from hearing him talk," Gallegos said. "He thrives in the behind-the-scenes. It made me want to model my sports information work ethic after his - to have my work speak for my talent and my abilities."

Junior year was over and as he began his final year, Gallegos' work was finding its voice. He was named American Southwest Conference Academic All-Conference for Sports Information on two separate occasions, and helped author several award-winning media guides. His weekly radio program, "The Mid-Week Sports Report," was immensely popular and he had become to some the "voice" of the Ozarks Eagles baseball team. He became a leader on campus, serving on the student athletic advisory committee and as resident assistant in his dorm.

Ozarks grad Daniel Gallegos.

During his time at Ozarks, Gallegos was a familiar voice on KUOZ radio, hosting a weekly talk show and doing play-by-play and color commentary for the Eagles baseball team.

Graduation came and went. Gallegos sent out resumes, and made phone calls, looking for a position in college sports. In July 2010, his efforts paid off. He was offered a position as Assistant Director of Athletic Communication & Sports Marketing at Allegheny College, in Meadville, Penn.

Once again, Gallegos found himself in familiar territory - the "freshman" on the team so to speak. Allegheny College had several sports that Gallegos had never worked with before. "I had to learn on the fly everything there was to know about those sports, especially how to stat them properly and how to write about them using the correct jargon," he said. As the primary contact for nine of the 21 sports programs at the college, Gallegos found himself responsible for about half of the school's sports programs. "I was in charge of everything for [each] sport, all the pre and post game releases, select feature stories, media guide creating and updating, game programs, updating their websites, nominating for players of the week, and being the official statistician for those sports as well," he said.

Gallegos spent a year at Allegheny College, then made the difficult decision to leave the college for that next big step in his career - he enrolled in a graduate program to pursue a Master's degree in Sports Administration at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark. Gallegos said this program will give him a chance to learn a wide variety of concepts about how to be a sports administrator. "It will be interesting to be exposed to the other sides of sports administration, being that my career focus is set towards communications and media relations," he said.
While working on his degree, Gallegos is also working as graduate assistant for sports information at the university. "I assist in the coverage of all sports at HSU," he said. His duties range from writing game stories, to updating the athletic website, to serving as official statistician at the home contests.

Gallegos is on target to complete his Master's program in the spring of 2013. "With my Master's degree in hand, and all the great experience I have received at Ozarks and Allegheny, I will be more than qualified for most of the jobs that will be posted at any given time," he said.

But spring 2013 isn't here just yet - it is spring 2012, and once again baseball is in the air. But this time, Gallegos won't be the new kid on the team. Instead, he'll be back in a very familiar role, using skills he learned in the Ozarks Sports Information Office, covering the sport he loves. "I'm doing a summer internship in media relations and broadcasting with the Arkansas Travelers," Gallegos said. The Travs are an AA minor league baseball team in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization, and Gallegos will cover the home games for the team through the summer months. "One of the most prominent things I will be doing is writing game stories after the games," he said. "I will also write some player features every now and then."

Looking back at his experience at Ozarks, Gallegos has some advice for students who might want to go into sports journalism or sports information. "It's something you must have passion for," he says. "The hours can be really brutal, but it's worth the effort. Always be willing to do new things, to learn. Be ready to learn each day. That's the mindset I had coming in. There is the potential to learn a lot in this line of work, if you're willing. I am grateful for the opportunities given me at Ozarks both in and outside the classroom. That's why I'm where I am now."