Off the Field: The Pound tells the stories of athletes away from game time

The creative team behind The Pound, a new social media app for UConn’s student-athletes. (Photo supplied by writer.)

The lines at First Night on Oct. 12 were massive, huge blocks of students waiting their turn to enter Gampel Pavilion. Making their way through the press of fans, The Pound used this to their advantage. Promoting their own brand by encouraging students to dunk on their decked-out dorm hoop and asking students to respond to questions on camera for their feature “Big Questions, Little Mics,” The Pound started creating content for their social media platforms.

 The logo for The Pound. (Photo supplied by writer.)

The logo for The Pound. (Photo supplied by writer.)

A recently created division with the marketing department of University of Connecticut Athletics, The Pound tells UConn sports stories about athletes’ “time off the field,” according to Pound founder and content producer Matthew Barry, a seventh-semester digital media and design student.

“The overall goal of this group is to help tell stories of student athletes, alumni and fans of UConn,” Barry said. “What makes the UConn experience more unique?”

Barry was the one who created The Pound. Previous engagement with the Blue Line, the student section for men’s hockey, led Barry to believe there was a content gap. While UConn sports coverage tends to include lots of statistics and the stories of games, it failed to get into the behind-the-scenes stories that really define what athletics means at UConn.

“The Pound focuses on human interest stories as told from the student athlete angle,” John Murphy, assistant digital media and design professor in residence, said.

Together with Murphy and Kevin Spillman, assistant director of marketing in UConn Athletics, Barry worked to create The Pound program, which officially went into action on Oct. 1.

The team consists of Barry, Murphy, Spillman and 15 digital media and design and communication interns. Building the program from the ground up started way back in December of 2017, after Barry pitched the idea to Murphy. Approved by April of 2018, interviews for the intern positions were held over the summer, according to Barry.

“So far I’ve been really excited to see the group come together and mesh as one,” Spillman said. “It’s not easy to start something from scratch but it’s been great to see students get really passionate about their projects and spend the time at meetings to work on the small details and even begin to develop new ideas.”

Before they called it The Pound, one of the program’s working titles was “The Point Dog,” which is a dog-sledding term meaning the dog that directs the sled. Ultimately, the team chose “The Pound” because they felt it was inclusive of all student sections, which have been referred to as the pound in the past, according to Barry.

Much of the work so far has been establishing The Pound as a brand and a platform that students can rely on as they begin to cover games and events. Active on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as @UConnPound (@uconnpound for Instagram), the process normally begins by taking video at games and events and then cutting up the raw footage to be used later on social media. Athletes are also invited to participate. Men’s hockey player Adam Karashik participated in an Instagram-takeover last weekend while the team was on a trip.

Although the program is still laying its roots, they have high hopes for its continuation.

“We have people from all walks of life coming together under this husky brand,” Barry said. “And we want to help tell everyone’s unique story.”


Alex Houdeshell is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.