By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
ST PETER —
Opportunity knocked for Ethan Armstrong three years ago and he’s glad he answered the door.
When he graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2009 after playing football for four years, he quickly took a summer job for a landscaping company in Fargo, N.D. The money was OK but Armstrong knew he didn’t want to make a career out of it.
With a degree in communications, he wanted something more in his field of expertise. Early that fall he pursued that path by taking a job as an intern in the Gustavus Sports Information Department under Tim Kennedy.
“I heard that Tim needed some help because the grad assistant he had been counting on decided not to take the job,” Armstrong said. “We already knew each other so when he offered me the internship, I took it.”
Armstrong had played cornerback for the Gusties and also worked for the Gustavus basketball team in the winters, doing a lot of videotaping and whatever else head coach Mark Hanson needed him to do.
With that foundation he began to learn the intricacies working in a sports information office. By the time the 2010-11 school year rolled around, Armstrong had decided he wanted to earn a master’s degree. Kennedy hired him as his graduate assistant and Armstrong began taking classes at Minnesota State University.
“I learned so much those first two years working for Tim,” Armstrong said. “You couldn’t ask for a better mentor.”
By the summer of 2011, Gustavus Adolphus announced that they were promoting Tim Kennedy to vice president for marketing and communication. Basically, school administrators had seen how efficiently Kennedy had run the SID office and they wanted him to do the same thing for the college as a whole.
Gustavus did a search for Kennedy’s replacement in sports information but, when it couldn’t find a suitable match, they decided to offer Armstrong the job for 2011-12 on an interim basis. He took it with the stipulation that he could continue to pursue his graduate degree in sports management.
To say Armstrong’s plate was full last year would be an understatement. Between being a full-time grad student and trying to run a college sports information office, he didn’t have much free time. Fortunately, Kennedy lent his support when he could and Armstrong also received the usual assistance from the 15-20 work-study students who helped out during the school year.
Apparently whatever Armstrong did last year was appreciated by the Gustavus administration. After re-opening the search for the new SID, Armstrong was given the job and the interim label was removed.
“It didn’t take me long to say yes,” Armstrong said. “Having been here for three years already I’m not coming into the job cold. I know what needs to be done.”
The 26-year-old has come a long way from planting trees in Fargo. He’s glad to be establishing new roots at Gustavus.