Kyle Serba (North Carolina Central University) – 25-Year Award
by Bill Hamilton, SC State University Retired SID/Historian and CoSIDA Special Awards Committee member
A legendary coach, during his retirement ceremony following an enviable 40-year career, told the audience gathered that he never felt like he had a job because he enjoyed his work so much. Those words also could have been spoken by Kyle Serba, Senior Associate Athletics Director at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina.
A Clifton Park, N.Y., native and a graduate of upstate New York's Utica College, Serba was named Director of Sports Information at NCCU in August of 1994.
"When I got my start in sports information, I fell in love with the profession — watching and writing about sports, building relations with coaches, student-athletes and media members, and being an integral part of one of the most exciting entities on a college campus and in the community," Serba said recently.
Both the title and duties have evolved for Serba, who today, coordinates the media relations, communications and promotion efforts for the university's athletics department.
"I quickly realized the level of commitment, both time and energy, that is required of the job, as well as the personal sacrifices made to be successful. At that point, I did not think 25 years in the profession was realistic for me — working 60-80 hours per week, including nights, weekends and holidays and not being able to spend personal time with family and friends," Serba noted.
"Yet, three factors kept me going: the love that I have for the job, the feeling that I was making a difference and the incredible professional and personal support that I received. When you love what you do, you enjoy the work, even the grind. I knew people who dreaded going to work every day, and I did not want to be like that."
Saying his favorite part of his job is getting to know the student-athletes, Serba is pictured here with former NCCU football player Zachary Means in October 2009.
Landing a position at NCCU, "forced me to see the world through a different lens," Serba pointed out when discussing his foray to Durham, N.C., and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) conference that NCCU was in at that time (it's now a member of the MEAC.)
"Thanks to the upbringing of my incredible parents, I did not have any hesitation or discomfort working in a setting with a population that is more than 90 percent African-American," said Serba. "NCCU is the only full-time job I have ever had. Obviously, the support I have received from the university has been phenomenal.
"I am grateful to former NCCU Chancellor Dr. Julius L. Chambers for taking a chance in hiring a young white guy from New York. I am blessed that the university community welcomed and embraced me as part of the Eagle family. And, I am fortunate that Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree became the Director of Athletics. A respected visionary in college athletic administration, she is also an inspiring and caring leader who firmly believes in the benefits of work-life balance and placing family first."
"Kyle is one of the best athletics communications professionals I have ever met," said Dr. Wicker McCree, who ironically, was hired at NCCU on the same day as Serba. "We have been colleagues since August 1, 1994 and I have been his supervisor for 10 years.
"He has an extensive 'tree' of media relations/communications professionals in the field of intercollegiate athletics and other communication fields. This in itself speaks to his ability to train, mentor, manage and develop people who desire to be in this field. He is a fair, well-informed and motivational manager."
Among the students and assistants Serba has mentored are Bryan Harvey, Assistant AD for Communications at Bethune-Cookman; Brian Smith, Senior Manager at UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship); Raja Rahim African American History Project Coordinator of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at Florida; Jasmine Alston, Director of Graphics and Social Media at Oregon; Ariel Germain, external operations, Howard; and Andrea Wheeler, Director of Digital Media at Alabama State.
"I owe my career to Kyle Serba," said Harvey. "It was his guidance, leadership and inspiration that allowed me to find a career working in collegiate athletics. He has helped so many young people struggling to decide what to do after college."
Others echoing those sentiments include Serba's current staff of Jonathan Duren and Kevin Buczek at NCCU, SIDs throughout the CIAA and MEAC, coaches, sports writers and those in the broadcast industry.
"Kyle is one of the true professionals in the field of sports information/media relations," noted Ed Hill, the longtime SID at Howard who retired last year and is one of this year's CoSIDA Hall of Fame inductees.
Lut Williams, the publisher and editor of the Black College Sports Page, calls Serba "a consummate professional who takes every aspect of his job seriously. He always works hard and many times goes out of his way to accommodate the media."
The chorus sharing William's praise for Serba includes longtime TV analyst Stan Lewter and Eric Moore, the founder of the Onnidan sports group and the Executive Director of BSCIDA.
Jonas Pope of the Durham Herald Sun has covered sports in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) for four years.
"I've covered the ACC big three (Duke, UNC, NC State) as well as North Carolina Central," said Pope. "And, I always tell anyone who will listen that Kyle is by far my best SID to work with. While all the SIDs do a wonderful job, Kyle has gone above and beyond to make sure media members have everything they need."
Eagle head men's basketball coach LeVelle Moton, one of the longest-serving and most successful coaches at NCCU, has known Serba all of his 25 years at NCCU.
"Kyle is a passionate individual who has dedicated his career to enhancing the standings of NCCU athletics," said Moton. "He is candid, creative, and reliable."
Serba's achievements in the field have not gone unnoticed. During his CIAA days, he earned conference SID of the Year Award four times, and his publications and stories have been cited for excellence by CoSIDA. Serba served as president of North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA), an organization he helped create, and he is a member of the NCCU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Never one to toot his own horn, Serba looks upon his long tenure in the field and his many accolades with humility. And, despite a demanding job, family is never far from his thoughts.
"Raising a family as an SID would not be possible without the incredible support and understanding of my family — my wife Dea, who is the solid foundation of our family and a loving mother to our four children: Solomon (18), Sofia (14), Stella (12) and Samantha (4)," Serba said. "I cherish my work but my family is my driving force."