CHARLOTTESVILLE — So, you work for the UVa athletics department and your computer malfunctions or your wireless connection disappears. Who you gonna call?
Howard Goodman, of course.
VirginiaSports.com regularly checks in with members of the athletics department who play vital roles but generally operate outside of the public eye. Few are more critical to the daily operation of the department than Goodman and his staff.
Goodman is a busy man, but he made the short walk from his office in University Hall to mine the other day to talk about work and, in some cases, play.
Title: Manager of information systems
Tenure: Goodman, 59, has been at the University since 1996, when he was hired by Information Technology and Communication (ITC) for a position in Academic Computing Health Sciences (ACHS). He moved to the Fine Arts, Music and Education (FAME) libraries in ’97 before joining the athletics department in ’99. “It’s very inspiring to see the efforts of other people here, not only the student-athletes, but the support staff,” he says. “There’s a lot of people here that put in 80-hour weeks that people don’t know about.”
Education: Goodman, a native of Providence, R.I., attended Boston University and later earned a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Family: Goodman’s wife, Claire, is an Interfaith minister who specializes in personalized wedding ceremonies. Goodman has three children — son Dave and daughters Asha and Jai — and a stepson, Justin. Dave works in D.C., Asha in New York City and Justin in Charlottesville. Jai is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Back in the day: Goodman moved here in 1982 at the invitation of a friend who owned the first Apple Computers store in Charlottesville. “Computers were really just getting started at that point,” Goodman recalls. “My friend wanted me to fix computers, and my response was, ‘I don’t know much about computers.’ He said, ‘That’s OK, no one else knows much either.’ It was kind of learn as you go.” His first computer: an Apple II Plus, in 1982.
Career path: Goodman left Charlottesville for a couple of years to work as service manager for the Apple store in Alexandria, then returned around 1984. Save a short stint in radio sales, his professional life has revolved around computers for the past 27 years. Given that computers have become ubiquitous, Goodman chose his profession wisely, most would agree. “I didn’t have foresight,” he says. “I just got lucky, I guess.” And now, he says, “I have the best job, because I have the love of athletics and the love of computers, and I’m able to combine them.”
Fab four: When Goodman started in the athletics department, his staff consisted of Charles Drumheller, then a half-time employee. His office has grown considerably. Drumheller is now the staff’s hardware expert. Melissa Simmons works with software and training and is the resident BlackBerry specialist. Beth Huckstep manages the office, and James Baldys is the web programmer. “Great staff of dedicated people,” Goodman says.
Off the clock: Goodman works out regularly at the Aquatic and Fitness Center and also practices yoga, which he studied and taught long before it attained its current popularity. A lifelong Boston Red Sox fan — he’s a son of New England, after all — he was the P.A. announcer for UVa baseball games at Davenport Field from 2000 to ’08.
On-line: Most of the 250 or so people who work in UVa athletics have computers, Goodman says. Those who don’t have computers have access to them. Also assigned to department employees are more than 100 BlackBerry phones, “which are computers themselves,” Goodman says. “Computers are everywhere. The athletics department couldn’t run without them, as most businesses couldn’t.” Most computers in the department are Macs.
Wait, there’s more: Goodman and his staff manage three computer labs for student-athletes — in the McCue Center, U-Hall and John Paul Jones Arena — and are responsible for maintaining various servers, as well as the staff website. Moreover, “we take care of stats at all [home] events,” Goodman says. “One of us, usually me, is at every football and basketball game.”
Favorite UVa sports memory: After considering several worthy possibilities, Goodman went with a classic — the Feb. 14, 2001, men’s basketball game between Virginia and Duke at sold-out University Hall. The ‘Hoos won 91-89 on Adam Hall’s last-second lay-in off a pass from Roger Mason Jr. Pandemonium ensued when the final horn sounded.