Purdue University Northwest Sports Information Director Nicole Watkins has been named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Sports Information Director of the Year for 2015-16, it was announced by the league office Tuesday afternoon.
Watkins, who now serves as the Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information, Marketing & Event management for Purdue University Northwest after the merging of the Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central athletic programs earlier this month, was selected by a vote of league sports information directors.
Beginning her third year in the Purdue University system this coming fall, Watkins saw both the Peregrine video and social media product grow exponentially in 2015-16. On the video side, she led the creation of the student-run, upgraded, two-camera, high-definition video streaming product, which produced a 235 percent growth in Purdue Calumet's YouTube channel views and a Stretch Internet live video growth of 104 percent.
Purdue Calumet's social media rise included a 144 percent jump in Twitter, 117 percent in Facebook and an incredible 253 percent in Instagram during Watkins' first two years at the helm of the sports information department. The creation of post-game graphics, videos and embedded video highlights along with feature pieces have sparked the tremendous surge.
Among other duties Watkins is responsible for within the athletic department include being the point person for Late Night Madness, the Welcome Back Student-Athlete Picnic, the Final Flight Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet, the Coaches Caravan and numerous other promotional and community outreach events. Included in the latter are Alumni Day, Hall of Fame Day, Military Appreciation Day, Future Student Day and Kids Day events.
Added to Watkins' job description this past year has been overseeing all of the athletic rebranding and design with the merging of the two schools' athletic programs. She was a leader on the Mascot Committee Task Force and also helped design both the new Pride logo and PNWathletics.com website.
Under Watkins' direction in 2015-16, Purdue Calumet captured its third and fourth-ever CoSIDA Academic All-America awards, while also making history by landing the Peregrines' first-ever At-Large CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year in senior tennis player Lori Haas. Her work also placed in the top 10 in six NAIA SIDA Publications and Media contests highlighted by its Best Cover in the Winter Brochure category and third place in the Feature Stories category for her piece on Hall of Fame inductee Sandy Love-Todd.
"I congratulate Nicole on a well-deserved honor," stated former Purdue Calumet and current Purdue Northwest athletic director Rick Costello. "Nicole's graphic design, creativity, timely press releases, social media presence and her tireless work ethic have energized the PNW brand. On behalf of the PNW Pride, I greatly appreciate Nicole's amazing efforts to publish and bring to life the academic and athletic achievements of our student-athletes and coaches."
Watkins, one of the department's primary photographers, as well, has also served her conference and the NAIA in numerous capacities. At the conference level, she has served on the CCAC SID Executive Committee, while at the national level, she served this past year as the NAIA-SIDA Splash Page/Wallpaper contest coordinator. Watkins has also served on the CoSIDA Academic All-America Committee as a district coordinator for the past three years.