Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon, Josh Yonis

“He thanked me for the hard work I had put into my article on his son and then went on to tell me that my writing reminded him of some of the greats he read frequently. I knew at that point, this was something I may want to do for the rest of my life”

Josh Yonis, Carroll Class of 2011 graduate, had charted out his career plan. He was a flourishing member of the Carroll Dragon Band and had planned to attend the University of North Texas and pursue a degree in Music Education. An opportunity to serve in Carroll ISD opened up for the first time that year, and it ultimately redirected his entire future.

In 2011, Carroll ISD’s Board and Community Relations Department introduced the Communications, Marketing, and Sports Information (CMSI) internship program for students who were interested in not only helping out with in-game entertainment at Dragon Stadium but also had an interest in journalism, photography, and video production.

Rick Herrin, former Assistant Director of Communications for Carroll ISD and current Director of Communications in Aledo ISD, saw the program as a way for students to get real-world experience in various areas of this industry.

“The vision of the program has always been to provide an avenue for students to learn valuable hands-on skills in photography, video, writing, marketing, and event coordination,” Herrin said. “We also wanted to showcase their talents running video at Dragon Stadium, writing and photography on and coordinating and assisting with big district events.”

Yonis joined CMSI and dove in head first. He was a member of the first group of interns and immediately made the most of it.

“We always communicated to the interns that the program was as much as they wanted to make of it, and Josh certainly made the most of it. He was dedicated to the program and was a pleasure to work with because of his eagerness to learn and contribute,” Herrin added. “He was a true leader in the program, continually generating and contributing creative ideas. He was a tremendous asset to the department as we were able to his publish his contributions regularly through our communication channels.”

There was one opportunity in particular that stuck out to Yonis as a turning point in his vision for his future. Yonis spent time working on a spotlight article on one of the standout Dragon Football players for his class. He remembers that the only time to get quality photos of the athlete was during a Friday night pre-game warm-up, while he was also preparing to participate with the Dragon Band. After the article was released on MySouthlakeNews, Yonis was called to the office during class the following week.

“I thought I was in trouble,” Yonis said. “I walked in, they handed me an envelope and I asked if this was all they needed. The front office assured me I wasn’t in trouble. I opened the envelope to read a thank you from the athlete’s father. He thanked me for the hard work I put into my article on his son and then went on to tell me that my writing reminded him of some of the greats he read frequently. I knew at that point, this was something I may want to do for the rest of my life”

Yonis applied and was accepted to Southern Methodist University and began his studies in Sports Management. Upon graduating from SMU, Josh went all in to find where he would land next.

“I basically ‘cold-emailed’ every college athletics program in DFW, I was looking for a school that had my next opportunity. Finally, I landed at DBU as a graduate assistant in the Athletic Department”

While Josh worked towards his Master’s Degree in Sports Management, he was able to fully immerse himself into the day to day operations of a collegiate level athletic program. His daily duties included press releases, statistical research, social media content, and much more.

After wrapping up his degree, Yonis was hired on at the school he originally had planned to attend. He was brought into the UNT Athletic Department and served as the Communications Assistant. He worked directly with numerous teams within the department.

Earlier in 2018, Yonis landed what he calls his current “dream job”. He serves as the Assistant Director of Communications for the Southland Conference. The Southland Conference currently has 13 schools in which it oversees in athletics including Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian, and others. His day to day duties include handling public relations for the conference, preparing and distributing daily information on stats and matchups, and other information needed to help promote and tell the story of the schools in the conference.

CMSI is still offered to high school students in Carroll ISD. Yonis hopes current students with an interest in journalism, photography or video will get involved as soon as they can.

“If it weren’t for Carroll ISD offering CMSI and the leadership within that program,” Yonis says. “I would not be in the position I am today. That program started my career.”