It was no shocker to see Mike Scala presented with a 25-year award by the College Sports Information Directors of America (COSIDA). He has been a part of the Montclair State University athletic community for over 25 years both as a student and staff, where he got his first job as Assistant Sports Information Director (SID).
“I’m very honored and humbled to receive this award from COSIDA,” Scala said. “Just the ability to work with student-athletes, coaches and administrators, to embrace new technology and always trying to advance something that I’ve always been very deeply in love with.”
Scala graduated from Montclair State in 1992, where he began working with his predecessor, Al Langer. This was where Scala first started learning the ropes of the job in sports publicity, as well as how to thrive in a professional environment. He said if there’s anyone he owes it to for being such a big influence on his work, it’s Langer.
Today, Scala is in charge of managing the social and media relations for all 18 varsity athletic programs at Montclair State. The main site, montclairathletics.com, was started by Scala himself. This was just one of the many innovations he brought to the table.
This decade has also had major transitions which now involve the use of technology for most day-to-day tasks. Scala has fortunately been there to lead the way during this time of innovation where internet has shown to be a huge asset, but is still so new to many of us. This is where his creativity was able to flourish.
“[I’m] seeing the growth and the evolution of not just my profession but college athletics and the university,” Scala said. “All three have changed dramatically just within the last several years, let alone since I began my professional career almost three decades ago.”
Scala did leave Montclair State to work at Monmouth University for a while, but later returned to the school. To him, Montclair State is a place he calls home.
“A lot of people asked me why I would leave being at [a] Division I sports program and to return to Montclair State, a Division III school,” Scala said. “I have a lot of great memories that involve Montclair State. I graduated from here, got my first professional job as Assistant SID, made many lasting friendships and met my wife.”
Scala works on two sides of the spectrum, doing writing and graphic work as well. When asked what his favorite part of his job is, he could not be more straight forward in his response.
“I always say the best part of my job is working with the student-athletes, getting to know them and watching them grow on and off the field,” Scala said. “It’s amazing to watch their transformation from a wide-eyed, first-year college student-athlete into a mature young adult during that time.”
When it comes to his job, Scala is all about helping people and doing what is best for everyone. According to him, receiving this award is “great and all,” but what he really prides himself on is the results he can bring out in the Montclair State athletes.
When asked about his single favorite memory or moment, neither the awards or multiple championships he brought to the Red Hawks came to mind. Instead, it was something more simple.
“It’s an email that I received from a student-athlete following their senior day,” Scala said. “In it, the person thanked me for the gift I had made and the words that were spoken during the ceremony and how it was one of their most cherished moments. It was then I realized, more than I did before, the impact I could have on a student-athlete. I still have that email and every so often I’ll look at it as a reminder of why I do what I do.”
As Mike Scala continues his career, his creativity and love for the student-athletes of Montclair State will only continue to grow. His passion for his work only makes him all that more deserving of the award handed to him by COSIDA.
“I became a Red Hawk and as we like to say to our athletes, ‘Once a Red Hawk, always a Red Hawk,'” Scala said.