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Aurelia native/Dubuque's Misner Recognized With CoSIDA's 25-Year Award

May 15, 2020 7:40am

As campus photographer, Paul Misner had a general idea of what transpired inside the sports information office at Buena Vista University. A few years later, when an emergency opening occurred at the Division III institution in Storm Lake, Iowa, Misner agreed to fill in.

That one-time fill-in is now in his 26th season as a sports information director, the last 15-plus at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa.

As Buena Vista’s staff photographer and publications assistant from 1994-95, Misner designed brochures, programs and posters, helped with the alumni magazine, taught beginning and advanced photography classes, and executed all campus photography needs. As was the case with many Division III schools at the time, the sports information director at Buena Vista doubled as the head baseball coach. He left the position in May, so the school replaced the sports information director position with a person who had a background in radio.

“He was hired in August and by late September, we found him crying next to his desk because he couldn’t handle the stress of all the sports, and he quit for good by mid-October,” Misner said.

Misner agreed to help during the fall, but by November was asked to take over until they found somebody new. He joined a small group of talented student workers who knew the ins and outs of the job and learned a lot about the job during his first year.

“Back then, everything was done by hand,” Misner said. “I had workers who were accounting majors and they understood making things balance. That was important. I fondly remember tossing out the old mimeograph machine with the fuzzy purple ink at the football press box, so being able to use a printer was a huge development.”

Days on the sports information beat for Misner turned into weeks, months, years. He would frequently phone a pair of legends in the field, Duane Schroeder at Wartburg College and Larry Happel at Central College, for advice.

At the University of Dubuque, he became acquainted with Warren Berg (CoSIDA president in1963), who would visit every summer with Navy vets who trained on the campus for V-5/V-12 Navy Training Unit from July 1, 1943 to Nov. 1, 1945. Berg met his wife while training in Dubuque and talked fondly about the early days of CoSIDA and his memories of the people he met in sports information at Luther College. 

A couple years into the full-time job, Misner built one of the first websites for a Division III athletics department after learning about a summer class on html language. The site was practical, functional, and informative, but never during his 26 years on the job has he received more criticism.

“I linked all the stats online and was harassed and yelled at by coaches because they thought I was giving away too much information and costing them wins,” Misner said. “At the time, nobody else in our league was posting rosters, box scores, and compiled stats online after games.”

Fast-forward to 2020 …

“Now you get yelled at if you don’t have the stats out there within a few minutes,” Misner said.

Misner has been active in CoSIDA as part of the (former) Gambling Committee, (former) Social Committee and also did work for the Academic All-District awards. He is the first to have a Division III student-athlete (also the first educator), named to a CoSIDA Academic All-America® Hall of Fame class, when Jeannie (Henningsen) Demers was inducted in 1999.

He is also the only Division III representative to have successfully promoted a Jostens Trophy Men’s Basketball Player of the Year (Adam Jones in 2002), a Gagliardi Trophy Winner (Michael Zweifel, 2011), National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalists (Wyatt Hanus, 2012, Tyson Carter, 2013, Blaine Snitker, 2015, and Conor Feckley, 2017), National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy finalist (Michael Zweifel, 2011), and have the first Division III recipient to win the Cliff Harris Award (Michael Joseph, 2018).

Misner has also placed in seven CoSIDA Publications and Digital Design poster and media competitions.

A native of Aurelia, Iowa, Misner graduated from Aurelia High School in 1984. From 1984-85 he accepted a scholarship and studied agriculture in Australia. Misner returned to Iowa and enrolled at Buena Vista in the fall of 1985, graduating in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a minor in psychology.  

His first CoSIDA convention was Orlando in 1999 and Misner attends as many as possible, budget permitting.

“My first few years I had no idea what the convention was about, so I never went,” Misner said. “I kept going once I started attending and learning.”

Misner remained a member of the Iowa Conference (now named American Rivers Conference), but moved to the eastern part of the state in 2004, accepting a position as director of sports information/assistant director of university relations at the University of Dubuque in July of 2004. The one-time staff photographer has now made a career in sports information.

“It wasn’t something I planned on doing this long, that’s for sure,” Misner said. “I thought I would do it until (Buena Vista) found somebody. They never found anybody.”

After 26 years of late nights, busy weekends, and working holiday tournaments, Misner is still going strong. A big reason is the relationship he has formed with current and former student workers.

“To me, the most rewarding part is staying in touch with your student staff who have gone on to be sports information directors, accountants, doctors, nurses, or pilots and spend time with them when they stop in and say hi,” Misner said. “We can reminisce about the crazy, fun, stressful times we had doing stats.”

(story courtesy of A-R-C)