Inside a small, undecorated office, tucked away in the Spartan Athletic Complex, Jason Bahenna began his second week as director of Athletic Communications, working hard to continue the work done by his predecessor, Ben Stockwell.
As the fall athletic season was fast approaching, Stockwell accepted a position at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., leaving Castleton an opening it needed to fill.
In Stockwell’s absence, graduate students Tom Blake and Jordan Doroshenko, along with Dean of Advancement Jeff Weld helped to make sure everything was prepared for the season.
Lucky for Castleton, Bahenna was looking to return to New England from Seattle where he had been for nearly 10 years, just as they were looking for someone with his kind of experience.
Once he took the position on Sept. 12, he assumed responsibilities including overseeing the communication efforts for the 29 division III varsity sports, working with the two graduate assistants, updating castletonsports.com and social media platforms and writing stories to send to media outlets, among other duties.
In past years, Bahenna has lived all around the country, most recently in Seattle working as the sports information director at Seattle University. During his time at the school, the athletic program became division I, part of that included the media outreach he worked on.
He enjoyed Seattle, but said it was time to leave.
A New England native, Bahenna is very glad to come back to the area.
“This is home,” he remarked.
His family is from the Boston area and while living in Seattle, he could only come home twice a year and at very limited times due to the intense division I schedule. Here he will have an earlier break and is only a three-and-a-half hour drive from his parents’ home.
Another thing he missed about New England was the sports teams.
“I’ve lived on the west coast twice, but I’ve always been an east coast guy,” he laughed. While he likes all the New England-based teams, basketball is his favorite sport to watch as he grew up watching the Celtics in the ‘80s. He also missed watching ice hockey regularly.
Through his career he has learned to appreciate sports like volleyball and softball, and has learned to tolerate soccer, he said making a hesitant face.
While not an athlete himself, joking that he wasn’t given the genes for that, Bahenna has always been involved in the sports world, starting as sports editor for his high school paper and working for the radio station.
He is also a big fan of live music. When asked what his favorite genre is he had to think for a minute.
“It varies. Classic rock. Older stuff,” he said mentioning some shows he’s seen lately: Aerosmith, U2, Fleetwood Mac. “I also like to chill out at home with a good comedy. Intelligent comedy; you have to think about it to enjoy it.”
Although he’s only been on campus a short while, he loves the feeling Castleton has.
“It’s a good ole fashioned New England college. The brick buildings on the other side of campus, the green space. It’s intimate and friendly. So far so good,” he said.
Because of his recent arrival, most people on campus haven’t gotten to know him much, but they are well aware of his level of sports knowledge and ability.
“He's detail oriented, hard working, and understands the role that athletics plays at a university like Castleton,” Weld said, adding that from his initial observations, Bahenna is also very humble and passionate about collegiate athletics.
Associate Dean for Athletics and Recreation Deanna Tyson agrees.
“His knowledge of sports information is great. He knew what we were already doing and he can move us forward,” Tyson said. “He did well jumping into our busiest week in athletics.”
Tyson mentioned that Stockwell knew every athlete by name, which is quite the feat considering there are over 600 student athletes. She anticipates that in time Bahenna will be able to maintain the work Stockwell had done to help the athletics department move forward and stand out by working on the social media pages, website, and programs for games.