At the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, Muhlenberg, along with the entire Centennial Conference, decided to cancel the remainder of the spring season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In making this necessary decision out of precaution, entire seasons and anticipated senior days were lost and the future was unknown for Muhlenberg athletics going forward.
With the student body sent home to finish the semester virtually and to play their part in containing the spread of the virus, Muhlenberg’s student-athletes were stripped of all that was familiar to them. Being sent home into quarantine, and with gyms closed for the foreseeable future, athletes were deprived of daily workout routines, their camaraderie with teammates, and, most importantly, their connection with the Muhlenberg athletics community.
For ‘Berg’s immensely dedicated athletics community, without sports to appreciate, there proved to be an undeniable void in need of occupation. In one way or another, despite athletic contests being paused for months, finding a way to continue telling the story of the Muhlenberg athletics program was absolutely essential.
Finding this opportunity to remain active and continue engagement with the larger college community was no simple task, but it led to the emergence of the Muhlenberg Mules Podcast.
Debuting on Sept. 9, 2020, with an episode featuring Athletic Director Lynn Tubman, the Muhlenberg Mules Podcast, according to Sports Information Director Mike Falk, was specifically designed to fill the gap left behind with no sporting events to cover.
“[The podcast] was intended to fill the void at a time when our teams weren’t playing,” said Falk. While the idea to start a podcast project may have already been proposed prior to the pandemic and the cancellation of sports, Falk acknowledges the influence that the pandemic had on finally getting it off the ground. “We had tossed around the idea of doing a podcast for a little while; once the pandemic hit there was no reason not to start it,” Falk added.
Indeed, since officially getting its start in September, the Muhlenberg Mules Podcast has been fortunate enough to have experienced tremendous amounts of success. Most recently, episode number 27 was released, featuring young stars in softball and baseball respectively, Kristi Svenningsen ‘24 and Jonathan Toth ‘24.
While the Muhlenberg Mules Podcast is certainly a home run, Falk reflects back upon the process of transforming the idea into an actuality. “We got some good tips from Paul Krempasky, the general manager of WMUH who started the Muhlenberg College podcast ‘2400 Chew,’” Falk said.
However, besides some of the external help along the way from Krempasky, Falk admits that much of the learning was done simply by doing. “It was just a matter of us feeling our way through the best way to approach the podcast. As with any new endeavor, there are things that are best learned simply by doing them. We will constantly try to learn and improve as we go along,” Falk said.
Without a doubt, it seems as though Falk and the rest of the team behind the scenes have developed a successful approach to making this podcast, which for over course of a few months, was the only thing reminiscent of Muhlenberg Athletics. In addition, having the privilege to continue in their providing of an outlet for the community, both past, and present has been meaningful for Falk.
“We’ve made a concerted effort to be topical and discuss issues that we hope would appeal to a wider audience,” he said.
In this effort, Falk reflected upon several recent episodes and the ultimate purpose behind them. “We talked to Kory David (assistant football coach) about issues facing Native Americans, we talked to Megan Patruno (associate athletic director) and Kristen Stuckel (women’s lacrosse coach) about being mothers of special-needs children, and we talked to men’s lacrosse player Jacob Sarrel ‘21 about his family’s campaign to promote COVID vaccinations. We are trying to portray our Mule athletic family not only as coaches and players but also as responsible and engaged citizens,” added Falk.
Fortunately, though, with the Mules back on the field for the 2021 spring season, Falk is thinking towards the future and how, with more news to cover, the podcast can evolve. “Thankfully, we now have athletic contests to report on, so we’ve considered moving to more of a ‘week in review’ format with multiple guests as opposed to what we’ve been doing in the absence of athletic events. So far it’s been a little bit of both,” he said.
“We will continue to have as our goal, telling the best stories we can about the Mules, in whatever format that might take.”