POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Fall 2017 marks the first semester for Leander Schaerlaeckens as the face of the Center of Sports Communication at Marist College.
Prior to the Fall 2017 semester, the long time face of the Center for Sports Communcation at Marist College, Keith Strudler, departed from the institution to seek other ventures at Montclair State University. For the past 10 years, Strudler was the face of all things Sports Comm at Marist. Since first introduced by Strudler in 2002, Marist’s Sports Communication program has grown into one of the largest and most established programs in the nation. He was also instrumental in connecting Marist College with important decision-makers and thought leaders in the journalism and media industries by helping to establish the Media Leaders initiative.
The program implemented by Strudler offered many opportunities for Sports Comm majors, including lectures involving the theories of sports, to physically producing and editing professional sportscasts. One of the most successful implementations to the Center of Sports Comm is the Speaker Series, in which Strudler would have a casual conversation with a person of interest in front of Sports Comm and
Journalism majors. Just last year, Strudler and Marist College had the opportunity to hear from ESPN and YES Network hosts Linda Cohn and Ian Eagle in the Nelly Golletti Theatre at Marist.
However, following the departure of Keith Strudler, the institution turned to Leander Schaerlaeckens to be the new face of the Center of Sports Communication. Prior to Marist, Schaerlaeckens has had a colorful career in soccer journalism, and has served as a writer for Yahoo Sports, ESPN, and Fox Sports. He has covered numerous events that are spectacles worldwide, such as three FIFA World Cups in 2006, 2010, and 2014. He has made TV appearances on FOX Sports, Fusion and National Geographic and has done radio hits with NPR, ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, Sirius XM and many other radio stations in the U.S. and abroad.
Schaerlaeckens holds an Honors BA from City University in London in print journalism and economics and an MA from American University in Washington, DC in broadcast journalism and public affairs.
With the reigns for the Center of Sports Comm at Marist now in his hands, Schaerlaeckens looks to set upon a new vision for the Center. “The Center for Sports Communication at Marist is a place where we try as much as possible to give our Sports Comm majors a hands-on experience, whether it be interacting with guests that we bring to campus in our speaker series, whether its creating a podcast, as well as other stuff down the line, to give a digital outlet for students to cover sports here on campus,” said Schaerlaeckens
Schaerlaeckens and the Center have since implemented a new podcast network, different than the one previously hosted by Strudler. In the past, the podcast consisted of only the voice the Strudler. Now under Schaerlaeckens, the students will have much more of a hands-on role with the podcast. In the past, certain interns for the Center of Sports Comm would perform the same task they are assigned for every podcast with little to no rotation. Now, the interns have the opportunity to help in other ways they see fit, such as editing, producing, and even co-hosting. “Really from the transition from the radio show where it was just Strudler talking for an hour about whatever, into these more focused podcasts, I think that the center is making a good transition from the 20th century to the 21st century” said Sports Comm major Chris Hupper.
The Speaker Series at Marist has also not seen a decline in popularity since the absence of Strudler. On November 9th, ESPN personality Pablo Torre made a pit stop to the Marist campus on and was met with a fully packed audience made up of college students. Torre is popular among the younger audience, as is best known for his work on ESPN’s “Around the Horn.” Three weeks later on November 30th, ESPN’s head of social media Mike Foss came to Marist to participate in the Speaker Series. Using the connections he has made in his illustrious career, Sports Comm students at Marist can expect many more influential figures brought here by Schaerlaeckens. A potential speaker that Schaerlaeckens wants to bring to Marist is Dennis Crowley, founder and owner of the Kingston Blockade.
Unlike Strudler, Schaerlaeckens is making sure that the Speaker Series and the podcast have relevance to each other by recording a podcast with the Sports Comm interns shortly after the speaker event to compliment what was said and learned. . “I’m not Keith, just as Keith isn’t me,” stated Schaerlaeckens . “So I might think about something in a slightly different way than he does. So the center will be a combination of both our ideas.
“We have a bunch of ideas, and really the plan is for students to come up with ideas for stuff they want to do, and then see if we can help them do it,” said Scherlackens.