For the 23 years in his position, and throughout his life, Mike Scala, former sports information director for Montclair State University athletics, always had one purpose in mind: to be there for the student-athletes and everyone else around him no matter what.
Scala passed away on Aug. 25 after a long battle with cancer.
Patrick Duffy, the current sports information director for Montclair State athletics, reflected on his friendship with Scala.
“[Scala] always had an answer, whether it was a work or life-related question,” Duffy said. “Any time there was a hard decision I needed to make, [Scala] was one of those people that I trusted the opinion of. He was more than a colleague, he was a friend and a mentor to me.”
Anyone who knew Scala will tell you how much he meant to them beyond working with him. He was an integral part of the operations of every sport here on campus and he will have a lasting legacy here at Montclair State.
Scala began his journey as a Red Hawk as a student studying computer science, he later switched to broadcasting. According to Jonathan Edmond in his article from last December about Scala and Duffy, Scala tried to work on anything he could in the athletics department as a student. Clearly, that work early on paid off for him.
Scala would then move on from Montclair State after graduating in 1992, but only for a short stint at Monmouth University as their director of athletic communications. Then, in 1994, he came back to continue his longstanding relationship with his alma mater.
Scala eventually met his wife, Jaime, at Montclair State, which turned into an over 20-year-long marriage. Together, they had three kids, Jenna, Michael and Joelle.
He even created the athletics website we know today as montclairathletics.com, where you can find game recaps, previews, stats and other stories on the student-athletes and other members of the athletics community.
Cameryn Martin, a senior defensive lineman for the football team and the new sports director for 90.3 WMSC Upper Montclair, has developed a relationship with Scala both on the athletic side and on the media side. He praised Scala for what he has accomplished with his technological advancements.
“He has made access a whole lot easier,” Martin said. “When I prepare for games for WMSC, I go through Montclair [State] Athletics; it has all the links, you can pull up stats very quickly. And we all use it, including the Red Hawk Sports Network [RHSN] and The Montclarion. We’re all able to pull up stats in a heartbeat because of the way Scala made it so simple and direct.”
Another student who has developed a connection with Scala on the media side is production intern and producer of the RHSN show “Inside the Nest”, Jason Naccarella. Naccarella remembers a recent trip the network had and how helpful Scala was in that process.
“Although [Scala] didn’t travel with us, we met with him to discuss plans and logistics for the trip,” Naccarella said. “He was so supportive and loved the idea of us going, which further motivated him to help us in any way that he could.”
Naccarella shared how he hopes people remember Scala.
“[Scala] made sure things got done in a way that benefitted everyone and made everyone happy,” Naccarella said. “People should remember the way he impacted so many lives and helped people on and off the field. He provided so many great opportunities for students and athletes that allowed for them to go on and do great things in their lives and careers.”
Not only did Scala help motivate the students in the sports communications program, and vice versa, but he was also a major part in motivating home crowds at the Panzer Athletic Center as a PA during men’s and women’s basketball games. Whether sophomore guard Mike Jackson hit a crazy three-pointer or senior guard Nickie Carter sliced her way to the basket for a smooth layup, Scala brought the energy to every Red Hawk possession.
Graduate student outside hitter of the volleyball team Carly Waterman had kind words for Scala and his energy at these games.
“A huge part of any game’s atmosphere is the announcing,” Waterman said. “[Scala] was the voice of Montclair State athletics and it won’t be the same without him.”
Waterman spoke highly of Scala’s work as sports information director as well.
“[Scala] was truly the best at what he did,” Waterman said. “He cared so much about everyone at the university and we all cared so much for him. [Scala] should be remembered for all the work he has done for us and how many lives he has impacted solely with his personality. No one can replicate the work he has done and we miss him tremendously.”
Martin is the new PA for the Montclair State soccer teams and Scala is one of his biggest inspirations going into his new position.
“Now with the new job I got with the Montclair State soccer teams for being a PA announcer, I want to one day be able to get comfortable enough to the point where I can have the same energy [as Scala] no matter what happens, and try to even exemplify some of Scala’s enthusiasm,” Martin said.
Scala has also amassed a wealth of accolades alongside being the voice of Montclair State basketball games. In 2019, he was named to the Montclair State Athletics Hall of Fame for all of the hard work he put into the Montclair State Athletic Department.
Duffy remembers that day fondly.
“My favorite memory was being at [Scala’s] Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2019,” Duffy said. “It was such a well-deserved honor and it was great to see family, friends and colleagues show support for this honor. That’ll resonate with me for a while, it was really a great night.”
A year later, Scala had another great day when CoSIDA, the College Sports Information Directors of America, awarded him with the 25-year award, recognizing him for his hard work over a 25-year span with Montclair State. In talking to Jess Liptzin about the award in 2020, Scala mentioned that the best part of the job is working with student-athletes.
Athletic director Rob Chesney goes in-depth on the care and respect that Scala had for all student-athletes at Montclair State.
“He made the student-athletes here feel important,” Chesney said. “That’s a unique trait that he had, and he cared about them and each of the teams. Nobody cared about them more than he did.”
The overall impact Scala has left on Montclair State and the athletics program and everyone within it will never be replicated. He was a special human being who always worked hard on the task in front of him, made sure the people and students around him were feeling their best and, above all else, cared for his wife and three kids along his journey to becoming a Montclair State legend.
Duffy said he will miss Scala and is sending condolences to his family.
“I’m going to miss [Scala], his daily references to ‘Friends’, ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘The Sopranos’,” Duffy said. “There is a major void here at Montclair State, and our hearts are broken. My thoughts are with his wife Jamie and his kids Jenna, Michael and Joelle.”