Dave Plati was the kind of kid who could tell you a player’s batting average...during night games...played on Tuesdays.
He hasn’t changed much.
Plati, the Assistant Athletic Director/Media Relations for the University of Colorado in Boulder for 18 years, is a walking archive of arcane information. Winning quarterback for the Buffs’ 10-9 win over Notre Dame in the 1991 Orange Bowl? Forget the player’s name. Plati probably knows the guy’s address, date of birth and social security number.
That’s what makes Dave Plati so good. That’s what makes CU so eager to keep him year after year. And maybe the best thing of all for Plati? The man gets paid to do something that fascinated him at an early age.
“My background has been in sports information and statistics going back to high school,” Plati says. “I started keeping the football team's statistics as a junior in high school even though I was a "stat nut" going back to fourth or fifth grade. My senior year, the athletic director asked me if I wanted to be sports information director, and I said sure, not even knowing what the heck it was.”
It didn’t matter. The job contained two of Plati’s favorite words: sports and information. Whatever the job entailed, whatever was expected of him, he knew he’d dive in with 100 percent enthusiasm. After awhile, Plati realized he had discovered his career as well.
“I did it, compiled a few record books and a lot of team stats,” says Plati, who would go on to attend the University of Colorado. “I latched on at CU as a student assistant. I then basically had a 4 1/2 year internship in the business that would become my career, was named an assistant Sports Information Director when I graduated, and was named the director 18 months later. So I'm the classic example of what can happen when you know what you want to do early on in college.”
Of course, Plati’s professional life goes way beyond stats. He essentially runs all the information coming in and out of CU’s large athletic department.
“Basically, the athletic media relations office is the liaison between the media and the department, thus is the conduit to our fans through the media,” Plati says. “We coordinate all publications, news releases, interviews and award campaigns, in addition to maintaining relationships with former student-athletes, handling crisis management and designing, editing and maintaining our website, CUBuffs.com. I manage a $500,000 budget.”
Plati also writes a periodic notes column called Plati-’Tudes for the school’s official website. Judging by the wide range of topics (it’s not uncommon to see Seinfeld trivia alongside detailed updates of a talented CU skier), it's clear he enjoys his job immensely. Where others may not find excitement in research or setting up interviews between players and the press, Plati gobbles it up with a passion.
For those looking to join the media/information world, Plati says an internship is crucial.
“I'm a big internship guy. Do several while in college, when you don't have to (and don't expect to) be paid,” he says. “If dollars are thrown your way, great, but don't let that be a deciding factor in accepting an internship or a position as a student assistant. The students are the life blood of our office; we could not survive without them. The ones that rise to the top after two or more years of service often can land a graduate or entry-level position in a business that has a finite number of plum jobs.”
For those who’ve already graduated, Plati says the path may be more difficult.
“That's a tough one,” he says. “The reality is since there are so few jobs, with several SID offices turning out one or two solid candidates a year (if not more), it's a hard mountain to climb. You need to find someone to take a chance on you, probably a large operation that can afford to have an entry-level person on a graduate assistant level.”