CHADRON – Alex Helmbrecht presented “Behind the Polo Shirt, an insider’s look at the world of sports information” Tuesday night in the King Library as the final installment of the fall Graves Lecture Series.
Helmbrecht, director of College Relations and former sports information director (SID) at Chadron State College, spoke and fielded questions related to the SID field.
Helmbrecht, the 2013 recipient of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conferences’ top SID award, discussed Stat Crew software, postgame press releases, working with longtime information director Con Marshall and the relationship an SID has with student-athletes.
Helmbrecht grew up in McCook, Nebraska, with teenage aspirations of a becoming an actor. While he had some interest in sports, most of his time was spent with theatre.
“I had interest in sports back then, but mainly I had aspirations for the big stage. I would have never guessed I would work in the world of sports information and statistics,” Helmbrecht said.
Helmbrecht studied at McCook Community College for two years after high school earning an associate of arts degree before moving onto Chadron. While at Chadron State, he was the entertainment and sports editor for “The Eagle” student newspaper.
His knack for journalism, coupled with a minor in the subject and a major in English, led him to the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.
“Jeff Fielder and Steve Frederick taught me a lot about deadlines and working on the clock. I attribute a lot of my work ethic to the two years I spent there,” Helmbrecht said.
Helmbrecht was hired as the SID at CSC in 2007. He was tabbed to replace RMAC Hall of Fame member Marshall, who had been in the position since 1969. At first, he shared an office and telephone line with Marshall and Justin Haag, former CSC employee.
Tight spaces and numerous road trips taught Helmbrecht a lesson early on.
“Being able to work anywhere at anytime is a trait every SID must have,” Helmbrecht said.
During his time as SID Helmbrecht had many memorable moments, including covering Danny Woodhead, volleyball games in Armstrong, national championships and being able to witness the first NCAA cross-country season were highlights the former SID touched on.
Helmbrecht also noted the effect his job enabled him to have on student-athletes.
“You have the ability to insert yourself into their lives at a very meaningful time. You get to know them and build a relationship with them, and that was one of my favorite parts of the job,” Helmbrecht said.
Helmbrecht also explained the statistical input system known as Stat Crew, a keystroke-based computer program that allows users to effectively track and store stats for essentially any sport.
He said the most difficult game for him to stat was a 2012 football game against Colorado Mines when a snowstorm took the game crew by surprise.
“In football you have to stat to a single yard. So, Justin Haag and I taped the entire field, goal line to goal line with masking tape on the window of the press box, because you could not see anything,” Helmbrecht said.
Helmbrecht’s job as SID lead him to his current position as director of College Relations. According to Helmbrecht, balancing his work with his family, takes time management and patience.
“It was difficult to balance work duties with the responsibilities of being a husband and father, but with a detailed schedule and proper time management, I was able to make it work. You have to leave your work at the workplace and that's something I've always tried to do. And, thankfully, I have a patient wife who understands professional dedication,” Helmbrecht said.
—Conor P. Casey, Graduate Assistant