By Dave Block ’93

Lifelong Lehigh Valley resident Brian Ludrof provides leadership in social media, marketing, promotions, and more for Athletic Communications. In a sense, he’s been a part of Lafayette since age 13, and he has a family tie to one of the most recognizable voices in Lafayette sports.

What's your background in terms of family, where you grew up, and where you live now and with whom?

I’m Lehigh Valley through and through having grown up in Allentown, living now in Bethlehem, and working in Easton. My parents still live in the house I grew up in in Allentown, while my sister (Abigail, 27) is an aspiring actress in New York City, living in Astoria, Queens. I’ve been in Bethlehem for just over three years and live with roommates John Sabino, video production manager in Athletic Communications, and Ashley Gerhart, assistant softball coach. Of course, there’s also Piper, John’s puggle, who runs the house, and Rudy, my parents’ mini golden doodle, who vacations with us from time to time.

When did you join Lafayette?

I’ve been around Lafayette since I was 13. My grandfather, Gary Laubach, the voice of Lafayette Sports Network, employed me to help keep statistics for him on Lafayette football broadcasts through high school. During my senior year at the University of Delaware in 2012, I interned in the athletic communications office here and accepted a 10-month position later that summer. During the 2013-14 school year, I worked full time at Lebanon Valley College in Hershey before a full-time gig opened up back at Lafayette that I couldn’t accept quickly enough. I’ve been here ever since.

How have your responsibilities changed over the years?

When I started, I was pretty much strictly handling sports information responsibilities, like keeping stats, writing press releases, handling interview requests, and managing our athletics website, GoLeopards.com. After the first year or two, I took on the responsibility of all of our athletic social media accounts and served as the lone graphic designer for that content. More recently, I have stepped into the director of creative media role, which has given me oversight of all of our marketing efforts, including in-game promotions, video content, and advertising in a variety of mediums. This latest position has allowed me to become more involved across the Communications Division as well as help out with institutional efforts when called upon.

What are the different things that go into doing your job?

Athletic Communications is basically the full communications and marketing efforts of the College in miniature form. We’re responsible for keeping and stewarding sponsorships, ticket sales, website management, statistics management, have a hand in recruiting with social media, graphic design, and video content, and serve as the communications outlet for all things athletics-related. We also handle some public relations and media relations initiatives, while working closely with our Patriot League counterparts to promote the full student-athlete experience. We do our best to celebrate some of the most impressive students on our campus and all that goes into their experiences and impact.

What's the most difficult part of it?

We’re a small office, so we often have to do more with less. I love the way we’ve been able to pull some things off efficiently and how we’ve put the puzzle together to give our student-athletes the best possible experience on a limited budget. We obviously make mistakes as much as anyone, but we never let limited resources affect what we believe is the right or most innovative way to package or release content.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I love the type of student I get to work with on a daily basis at Lafayette and in the Patriot League. I value the mission of high-academic athletics and putting the efforts of the student before the athlete, and believe promoting that mission to be very rewarding. Let’s be honest, I also watch sports and make things look pretty for a living, so it can’t be that bad.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work?

Like everyone, we’ve obviously shifted to a work-from-home lifestyle, but most of what we would normally work on in the summer months is still happening. We’re busy updating the website for the new year, celebrating our seniors from the Class of 2020, and coming up with ways to improve our offerings for 2020-21. That being said, I definitely didn’t think we’d be putting a Netflix-like series together of our student-athletes baking banana nut bread, or organizing an athletics staff Olympics consisting of all challenges you can do at home, so that’s new and different. Honestly, I’m pretty proud of how quickly we adjusted and the amount of content we’ve still be able to generate in less-than-ideal circumstances.

What's been the most difficult part about it?

Being away from the people. Lafayette athletics and the College in general is really a big family, and I definitely miss seeing and collaborating with everyone on a daily basis. I never dreaded going to work in the morning, because I always knew Phil Labella (director of athletic communications) had a totally immature joke waiting for me or Mick Statham (head women’s soccer coach) was going to give me his legendary “bobbing and weaving” answer when I asked how he was doing. And noon hoops, of course. The best part of the day.

What unexpected positives have you seen during this time?

I’m lucky in that my family has a vacation home in the Poconos that I’ve been able to frequent more than would be typical. I’ve been able to shift my office from week to week between there and Bethlehem, and that’s been a really good change of pace. Without noon hoops for exercise, I’ve gotten into running a little too, and that’s been cool to see progress. I still don’t hit the pavement as much as I should, but I’m getting there.

What are your best personal Lafayette stories?

Childish Happy Hour
When I was in my 10-month position and Mark Mohrman (currently in athletic communications at Monmouth University) was the assistant sports information director, we would work countless hours on basketball game notes (packets provided to media with in-depth information on our teams to use in stories, broadcasts, etc.). At the time, Penny Nace (nicest person ever) was our office’s administrative assistant, and we didn’t feel great about blasting music with sensitive content in the office while she was working a few feet away. So during basketball season, we would wait until Penny left for the day around 5 p.m. and crank up Childish Gambino while finishing up our notes for the upcoming game. We called it Childish Happy Hour, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t bring it back every now and then.

Sarah Park’s Halfcourt Grenade
More recently, Sarah Park ’20, who was goalkeeper on our field hockey team, took one for the team at one of our men’s basketball games this past winter. Sarah, who has an infectious personality and is honestly just a joy to be around, was chosen to participate in the halfcourt shot at the game against Loyola. Sarah didn’t disappoint as she heaved a one-handed effort right through the … Loyola huddle, sacrificing her chance at $1,000 for the good of the cause.

Flight to Kansas
During my first year traveling with the men’s basketball team, we were making a trip to the University of Kansas in the winter of 2014. Our team bus was leaving around 5 or 6 a.m. that day to travel to Philadelphia, where our flight was departing from. Being naive and much less professional than I am today, I thought it was fine to go out and have a couple of cocktails the night before departure, head to bed, and just get up around 4 and pack in the morning before heading up to campus to catch the bus. Instead, I was awakened as the bus was already loaded by one of our assistant coaches asking where I was. Mind you, at this point, I hadn’t even packed, and our flight was leaving in about three hours from Philadelphia. I told the bus I would meet them down there and went into full panic mode. Somehow, and to this day, I’m not exactly sure how, I packed, loaded my car, drove to Philly, and met the team in security with plenty of time to spare. And I didn’t even forget a belt (a common mistake with coaches and staff who wear suits for game days). Needless to say, I have never missed the bus since, as that phone call from then-assistant Donovan Williams (currently an assistant at Longwood University) still haunts my dreams.

How do wins and losses affect the enjoyment of your job?

With everyone at Lafayette having such close relationships, I’d be lying if I said my personality and everyday emotional well-being doesn’t sometimes ride on the success of our teams. I’m so passionate about the types of student-athletes that we have and want them so much to do well that it’s so disappointing to see them fail sometimes. It’s obviously much easier to promote winning and success to the outside world, but we have the fortune of promoting people with winning character, regardless of win-loss percentage, so that’s definitely an advantage in tough times on the field or court.

What are your thoughts on Climb the Hill? Do you sense momentum?

Absolutely. Bruce McCutcheon (former athletics director) will always be one of my favorite people to be around, and I learned so much from his leadership and commitment to Lafayette athletics. That being said, Sherryta Freeman has come in with a purpose and set lofty goals that are starting to be met with lofty results. Last year alone, we jumped six spots in the Patriot League’s President’s Cup standings and saw men’s soccer, field hockey, and football all finish within the top two spots in their respective standings. Our athletes, coaches, and staff are all more committed than ever before to creating a championship culture here, and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it.

Whom do you admire here?

There are two who immediately come to mind. One individual and one group. The individual is Scott Morse, our senior director of communications for campus life and athletics. The amount of hats he needs to wear on a daily basis, especially given his increased role in COVID-19 communications, is consistently impressive. I’ve known Scott for a long time, and his professionalism, work ethic, and never-ending desire for improvement in his craft and our product is something I aspire to imitate. The other is our sports medicine staff, who often get overlooked and are critical to our success. This group works countless hours to keep our student-athletes in the best possible condition to perform at the highest level. They’re critical to a positive experience and give our student-athletes the care mentally, physically, and emotionally they need to succeed in all areas of campus life. Kudos to Baily, Frantz, Dawn, Tiff, Hali, and Alfonse for everything you do.

How would you characterize the noontime staff and faculty basketball games in Kamine?

Infinitely more fun exercise than running. It’s very clear the majority of us were not college athletes, but we sure give it our darnedest.

What else do you do for fun?

I enjoy hanging out with friends and family around the area and am playing a ton of golf this summer. I also play a lot of tennis and have started to cook a lot more during quarantine and like to think I’m getting a little better at it.

Besides Lafayette, what teams do you root for?

Cubs, Packers, Flyers, and Sixers in the Big Four. Everton in the Premier League.

What is your background as an athlete?

I tried/played pretty much everything growing up but keyed in on basketball, tennis, and golf once I got to high school. I wasn’t good enough in any to play at the Division I level, but played basketball, flag football, and softball in intramurals throughout my college experience at Delaware. I still play basketball, tennis, and golf regularly, and sports will always be a huge part of how I enjoy life.

What did I miss about you?

As a Cubs fan, working with and getting the chance to meet Joe Maddon ’76 was and continues to be an incredible experience. It’s obviously pretty cool to say I’ve met and work with (from time to time) the manager who ended the drought in Chicago.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Lafayette is truly a special place. There’s a reason there are so many alums who work here and so many staff members who leave for one reason or another (myself included) and either come back or remember their time here so fondly. It’s such a community, and everyone really has each other’s backs. I loved my time at the University of Delaware and wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything, but I truly feel more like a Leopard than a Blue Hen. #RollPards, #BeatLehigh.

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