This summer, the Loyola athletics social media accounts and promotional material began to look different — posts and advertisements that used to be built from pre-designed templates illustrated individual designs and catered to the specific sport or player featured.
The facelift to the athletics department’s graphics came from Jeremiah McCallie, the new director of creative services.
McCallie was hired in May to fill a role that had been empty for almost the entire 2016-17 school year. The previous director of creative services left the department in November, and, because it was so close to the start of winter sports, there wasn’t enough time to hire someone new, according to Bill Behrns, director of athletics communications.
While the position was vacant, the athletics department used pre-built templates for most social media posts and advertisements to save time and effort in a job that had suddenly become the responsibility of the entire department, according to Behrns.
McCallie’s first project at Loyola was to get rid of the templates and start making the social media accounts more interactive and personalized.
“We’re not really using templates, we’re trying to make everything more custom to that sport,” the Springville, Alabama native said. “But also have a blanket look so everything looks similar and people know it’s Loyola.”
The inspiration for what he wanted Loyola’s social media accounts to look like came from The Ohio State University football’s social media accounts.
“If you look at Ohio State and the way they’ve changed the way people look at sports social media … if you look at their Instagram or Twitter, the things that they’ve done, I would say I’m trying to model it to be more like them,” McCallie said. “They’re interactive and they just do so many different things, it catches your eye. You have to stop and click on it and look at it.”
When McCallie is designing a graphic for social media, his goal is to grab a student’s attention to ultimately get more students at the games.
“Maybe kids get to the games more if something catches their eye on social media. They might stop and look at it,” McCallie said. “If it’s something plain they might scroll past it.”
The athletics department has seen an increase in attendance this season, especially at women’s soccer games. Through the first three games of the 2017 women’s soccer season there have been 1,179 fans in attendance. Over the same period in 2016, only 630 fans came out.
The new graphics are likely part of the increase in attendance but, because of all the variables, it is hard to pin down one reason, according to Loyola athletics director Steve Watson.
“Short term, I would say we’ve seen a dramatic uptick in student attendance at our soccer games, women’s soccer had another great crowd [against Indiana State University],” Watson said. “What is that attributed to, it’s hard to measure. We gave away Chick-fil-A sandwiches which helps, but I think we’re doing a good job getting the message out there.”
An aspect of McCallie’s job that students and fans don’t get to see is the use of graphics in recruiting, especially for basketball. McCallie said he builds individual recruiting packets for each recruit. Each recruiting package is extremely personalized to a specific recruit. For example, McCallie said he has photoshopped recruits faces onto Drake album covers, billboards in the Chicago skyline, in Loyola gear and onto ESPN Magazine covers.
The ability for graphics to help coaches recruit has been a big hit, according to Watson.
“The recruiting piece, I’ve heard a lot of feedback from our coaches about how impactful things that are being pushed out are,” Watson said.
The effect of McCallie’s work has already impressed the athletics department, according to men’s basketball head coach Porter Moser.
“Jeremiah is an incredibly talented individual who has a keen awareness for what fans and recruits want to see. He has used his graphics expertise to provide a modern, cutting edge view into the men’s basketball program and the athletics department as a whole,” Moser said. “Simply put, his work is really cool and we have received nothing but positive feedback on his graphics from recruits and fans.”
McCallie has experience in all levels of collegiate sports. He got his journalism degree from the University of Alabama in 2015, and, as a student, produced videos for the school’s softball and football teams. After graduating from Alabama, McCallie worked in the communications department of Manhattan College as a video coordinator.
The size difference in the schools McCallie has worked for taught him various lessons, McCallie said. With Alabama football and its 16 national championships, 695,000 Twitter followers and $51 million budget, he said he learned time management. When a program is as big as Alabama football, the athletics department has to run like a well-oiled machine, according to McCallie. At Manhattan College, which has less than 4,000 students and whose only national championship in school history is the 1973 indoor track and field championship, McCallie had to be more innovative because of a lack of resources.
“Going from Alabama to Manhattan College was a big shock,” McCallie said. “All you know is what Alabama has, so you’re used to just pretty much anything at your fingertips, [then you] go to Manhattan where everybody is working on laptops, but personally I think it helped because you get a lot more creative with things.”
Alabama’s athletics department is much bigger than Loyola’s, but, according to McCallie, the two departments run mostly the same way.
“Coming [to Loyola] of course is a step up [from Manhattan],” McCallie said. “[Between] here and Alabama, there’s less staff, but it’s run more so the same.”
McCallie is continuing to work on a growing list of projects that includes promoting games and building recruiting packages to redesigning the men’s volleyball team’s locker room.