Scholar of sports
Luke Reid touts local college play
Sports fans know Chico sometimes can seem like an island landlocked by land.
The nearest professional franchises are nearly two hours away in Sacramento, and watching sports on television goes only so far to satiate a sports junkie’s needs.
Enter Luke Reid, assistant sports information director for the Chico State Wildcats. His take on being a sports fan in Chico is simple: Chico is a college town, therefore it’s a college sports town. And he’d love to tell everyone why.
“The first thing I would say is, ‘If you love sports, give Chico State a chance’”, Reid said. “Chico State has, in the world of Division II athletics, one of the top athletic departments in the nation.”
An impressive record backs up that statement by Reid, who’s not just a mouthpiece for his employer.
In the past five years, Chico State sent its baseball team to four Division II College World Series appearances, and the women’s basketball team competed in the 2006 Division II Final Four. The men’s basketball team has fared well, too, making it to the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament in 2004.
But those are just the most visible of the university’s athletic programs. Chico State also fields men’s and women’s soccer teams, and golf teams, as well as volleyball, softball, track and field, and cross country.
Winter, spring, fall. As far as competitive sports are concerned, Chico State has something for everyone, Reid said.
“What you see is a very high caliber of college athletics,” he said. “When people give it a chance, they tend to appreciate what it is.”
Still, not everyone thinks of Chico State as a sports attraction. The university’s Sports Information Office would like to change that attitude.
“We got certain fans in the community, families and that type of thing,” Teresa Clements said, “but the one audience we really have a hard time capturing is our student population.”
Clements is the sports information director at Chico State. Along with Reid, she gathers stats, play-by-play notes and game results, and then translates that information into online resources and other promotional material.
Clements and Reid do most of the writing for the office’s online team coverage. They also contribute to other university publications such as Wildcat Illustrated, the Athletic Department’s quarterly news magazine.
As far as stats and numbers are concerned, there’s really only one person Clements relies on. When it comes to the numbers game, significant to mundane, she never hesitates to call on Reid.
“It’s just kinda fun,” Reid said of his savant-like affection for the hobby. “They’re just interesting to me for some reason.”
In addition to his duties as assistant information director and resident stat geek, Reid is also an unofficial team cheerleader—without the skirt and pompoms, mind you. He’s often seen with his hands cupped to his mouth, shouting praise to players.
“He cares about the athletes and they know it,” Clements said. “He’s just the big guy with the beard who’s at all the games, and they know who he is.”
Too often, however, seats at Chico State’s sports venues remain empty. In Reid’s opinion, that’s a darn shame. He suggests families on a tight budget check out a game or two in Acker Gym, instead of going to the movies or bowling.
“If you love sports you get four hours of basketball,” Reid said. “When you have a lot of fans in the place it’s an absolute blast to be there.”
But he doesn’t want prospective fans to think Chico State is strictly a two-sport venue for spectators. Reid loves the reactions he sometimes gets from people when he travels with Chico State’s teams to cover the Wildcats when they’re away.
“‘Yeah, Chico State, isn’t that the school with the cross-country team?’” said Reid, remembering a comment someone made while on the road. “People know our town because of our teams.”
Reid takes pride in the 11 collegiate teams Chico State fields, “all constantly vying for a spot in the postseason,” he said.
The university has been competing in the California Collegiate Athletic Association since 1998. Throughout its history, the CCAA has accumulated 144 national championships and is the all-time leader in NCAA Division II schools in that regard.
“You’re gonna have quality athletics day in, day out to enjoy,” Reid said. “If you want the experience of being in college and rooting for a college team, then Chico State won’t let you down.”