Although few students know Jim Caton's name, almost all students know his work. Caton, the Sports Information Director (SID), writes the game reports and sports news for all 31 of Bowdoin's varsity sports teams.
His task is considerable: Caton estimated that he has written between 700 and 800 press releases in the past year, just part of a job that keeps him working 50-60 hours per week. Aside from student staffers that record game statistics, Caton is alone in his assignments.
"Jim plays a critical role," Director of Athletics Jeff Ward said. "I think he is the person that connects us to the outside world. The Athletics Web page is by far the busiest Web page I believe on the College's site, and he is essentially responsible for all of that. And that's only part of his job."
Game nights are the craziest. On a typical Friday, Caton arrives at his office a little before 9 a.m., and likely will not depart until after 10 p.m. His day starts with meetings before setting up the press boxes, grabbing the programs—something he had to make earlier in the week—and prepping his student staffers. He then readies work stations for himself and his students fit with computers and game notes. Then, he waits for the action to begin.
"The easiest time for me sometimes is during the games," Caton said. But it is not long before the frenzy begins again.
Caton quickly spewed out the multitude of assignments required of him.
"Printing out stats. Delivering stats to coaches. Posting stories on the Web. Sending stories to the media. Sending stats to the conference office and the NCAA," he said. "That's sort of the craziness of a Friday."
But none of it seems to phase Caton, who is perfectly at ease in his office tucked away in the corner of the Sidney J. Watson arena—an ideal place to be working for a sports fan.
Caton's job—now fast-paced and content-driven—was not always quite so hectic. In fact, when Caton arrived at Bowdoin in 2001, the job he stepped into hardly resembled the one he currently holds.
"It was a 10-month position here, academic year only," Caton said. "Not much responsibility more than keeping stats and reporting them to newspapers. It was a glorified internship when I first got here."
Caton had jumped into the sports information field right as it was about to take a large turn.
The SID was "almost like a team manager in some ways...but as the Web exploded, it sort of took the job along with it," Caton said. "Ten years ago I was calling after every game and faxing out game reports. Now people don't want faxes or telephone calls." That type of technology has gone by the wayside, replaced by Twitter updates and push notifications, Caton said.
"What's happened is that it has grown more than changed," Ward said. "There aren't a whole lot of things we have taken off his plate."
In some ways, sports information is all Caton has ever known. The summer before his senior year at Ithaca College he took an internship with a minor league baseball team, the Albany Colony Diamond Dogs—now defunct, Caton pointed out—and enjoyed it immensely.
"I was going to a baseball park," Caton said. "I got out of my car every day and heard batting practice."
After that experience Caton said he knew he wanted to be involved in sports. Following graduation he got a job as the assistant sports information director at Middlebury and after one year there he landed the spot at Bowdoin.
Now, nearly 10 years later, he seems quite comfortable to stay.
"I honestly think it's the best [sports information] job in the country," Caton said. "It's exciting to work and it's fun to work. At the end of the day, as crazy as it gets, I'm still going to Bowdoin sporting events for a living."
Though Caton could not completely rule it out in the long-term, he said at this point there was very little allure to moving to a D-I program. As Caton sees it, there are quite a few perks in working at Bowdoin.
"I'm not going to get a Cam Newton scandal here," Caton said. "I'm not going to get a Bobby Knight."