One might begin to describe Ali Paquette, the Assistant Director of Athletic Communications, as an “unsung hero.”
Although Paquette’s work is ubiquitous in the Middlebury Athletics world — she is a stat-keeper, photographer, and social media manager, among other titles — it isn’t always recognized. But this past week, Paquette was rewarded for her behind-the-scenes contributions, winning the College Sports Information Directors of America’s (CoSIDA) Rising Star award. This is given to the best athletic communications director with less than ten years of experience in the field.
“It was definitely weird to win [the Rising Star award] since I’m very much behind the scenes and used to publicizing everybody else, but it was nice to receive recognition,” Paquette, who has worked for just three years at Middlebury, told The Campus. “There are definitely a number of people deserving of this award, so I was surprised when I won it, but it felt very good to be appreciated.”
This award isn’t Paquette’s first. In 2020, she earned CoSIDA’s D-III Recognition Award and won “Best in Nation” for an athlete infographic in 2021. In 2018, Paquette won CoSIDA’s Fred Stabley Sr. Writing Award.
In her role, Paquette acts as a liaison between Middlebury’s athletics teams and the media and public. She runs Middlebury Athletics’ social media outlets, writes game recaps after varsity competitions, and records statistics throughout matches, among other tasks.
Paquette did not always intend to pursue a career in athletic communications. She graduated from Salve Regina University in 2013 with a degree in biology, landing her first job in a lab after graduation. But the former collegiate cross country runner missed sports and craved more out of her professional career. “I realized something was missing,” she explained. At the time, Paquette’s boyfriend (now husband), Ryan Paquette, was coaching athletics at Middlebury College. Entering the sports industry seemed like the right fit.
“I’ve always been into writing, photography, and other creative things, so I thought maybe I could focus on that within athletics,” Paquette recalled. “This role is a hybrid of a lot of different things, so my day-to-day life is always different, which I love. I get to be around college athletes who are very energetic and passionate about what they do, and that makes my job fun.”
Although Paquette’s career at Middlebury began in 2016 as an intern, she has only been in her newfound role as Assistant Director of Athletic Communications for the past two years. Now fully embedded in a field completely separate from her college major, Paquette encourages others to pursue their passions as she did.
“I think everyone, when they’re a senior in college, thinks they have to have everything together and immediately be in the career they want to be in forever,” Paquette said. “As someone who switched professions, went back to school, and spent the bulk of my twenties figuring things out, I think it’s important to remember to have fun in your twenties and know you don’t have to be wherever it is you want to end up. And for anyone interested in sports, my door is always open if you want to reach out.”
Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.