Writing the Sports History Books

Preserving the University of Maryland's athletic archives combines this alum's passions for sports, research and primary sources.

By: Brittany Risher  Wednesday, April 3, 2019 04:43 PM

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Photos by Joshua Fernandez

Many rabid sports fans spend hours of their free time on their TVs, computers and phones poring over game highlights. For Laurainne Ojo-Ohikuare '14, the athletic archivist at the University of Maryland, it’s part of a day’s work: She helps digitize videotaped games before they become so grainy viewers can’t tell if they’re watching basketball or field hockey.

Ojo-Ohikuare, one of only three athletic archivists in the nation, is tasked with collecting, maintaining, organizing and publicizing any materials that support the story of University of Maryland's athletic history. It's a role that combines all of her passions.

Laurainne Ojo-Ohikuare - Inset Image

Ojo-Ohikuare examines a 2013 "Maryland Pride" size-19 sneaker from the university's archive. The footwear is among more than 750 pieces that span decades of UMD athletic apparel history.

“To fuse my love for sports and athletic departments with my love of archives and primary source materials is a dream come true,” says the English major and computer science minor who played volleyball at Muhlenberg. “I get to teach students, alumni and everyone in the athletic department about their history.”

A job like this wasn’t on Ojo-Ohikuare's radar as a Mule. By her senior year, she wanted to be an English professor, so she planned to attend to New York University for a master's in Irish literature. Former Assistant Professor of History Kim Gallon suggested adding a master’s in information and library science, due to Ojo-Ohikuare's love of research, and Ojo-Ohikuare took her advice.

“Entering a dual degree is kind of nuts,” Ojo-Ohikuare says. “But collaborating with my professors and learning what I really liked kept me motivated.”

In some ways, it was a continuation of her time at Muhlenberg, where she says mentors like Gallon and Associate Professor of Computer Science Clif Kussmaul made her aware of opportunities and then gave her the confidence to make her own decisions. “I never felt completely lost. I knew what all my options were,” she says. “They gave it to me straight and I felt very supported.”

Today, she's pleased with her decision to join UMD.

“If you told me as first-year student that I'd become this, I don't think I would have said, 'Yeah!,'” she says. “But I love sports, I love watching sports, I love the technology part of libraries, I love research and I love primary sources. I'm really having fun and making sure athletic history is preserved and preserved properly.”