Class of 2020: Liam Sment leaves his mark on the sports media and analytics program
Through the camera lens, senior Liam Sment captured immortal moments in sports history.
Legendary assistant coach Bud Foster’s final game in Lane Stadium. The unceremonious end to an ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament cut short amid the rise of COVID-19 in the United States.
Sment didn’t just witness these extraordinary events. He documented them by applying the skills he learned in the Virginia Tech School of Communication.
Along with his photojournalistic efforts, Sment devoted his personal time to embodying the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). For two years, he served on the Relay for Life of Virginia Tech executive team, helping organize large-scale events in pursuit of a cure for cancer.
He also pursued his other creative passion — music — and joined Greek life as a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa Epsilon Hexaton chapter.
“I did my best to create all the experiences I could in this phase of my life,” he said.
Sment will graduate this month with a degree in multimedia journalism and a concentration in sports media and analytics. As he begins his next chapter, he reflected on his experiences and memories of the past four years.
A native of Wisconsin, Sment moved to Long Island, New York, when he was 10. He graduated from high school with an associate’s degree in audio engineering. He moved with his family to Southwest Virginia after his father started a new job. New to the area, Sment had little familiarity with the colleges and universities and didn’t know which school to choose.
“But the second I stepped foot in Blacksburg, I just felt the buzz and the excitement,” said Sment. “It was August, before the start of classes, so few people were even here. But the atmosphere just felt right and every step on campus was reaffirming.”
He visited and considered other schools, but the connection to Virginia Tech proved unbreakable.
Sment enrolled at Virginia Tech undecided on a major. But just as he gained confidence in his college choice with each step across campus, entering the classroom of the long-time and legendary Voice of the Hokies Bill Roth sealed his decision.
“Because of Bill’s class, I fell in love with sports media and that’s how it’s evolved,” said Sment.
Roth, who provided radio play-by-play for Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball for 27 years, now serves as a professor of practice in the School of Communication, based in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Students laud Roth for his enthusiastic approach to teaching the next generation of sports media professionals through hands-on experiences, such as covering ACC games across the country.
Sment and his classmates are among the founders of 3304 Sports, the student-run sports broadcasting team. Several of the students are enrolled in the sports media and analytics major, which became official during the 2019–20 academic year.
Roth shared high praise for Sment, who served as the graphics and photography director for 3304 Sports.
“Liam embraced everything about Virginia Tech and the experience an undergraduate can have here. From his academic work, to Relay for Life, and of course with our 3304 Sports broadcasts, he will be leaving his mark on this campus,” said Roth. “Liam has developed into a terrific sports photo journalist, a graphic designer, and a leader among his peers. We’ll miss him!”
Sment said some of his fondest memories covering sports include covering women’s basketball at Virginia Tech and the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
“My favorite event I ever covered was that ACC tournament. The level of play was just so high and the atmosphere was unbelievable,” said Sment.
When Coach Foster concluded his final game at Virginia Tech, Sment captured the emotional scene as rain gently fell.
Last winter, Sment traveled to North Carolina for the 2020 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament on a photography assignment for 3304 Sports, Tech Sideline, Collegiate Times, and Tech Lunch Pail. Quickly, he had to adjust from photographer to news journalist when the 2020 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament abruptly ended before it began.
Sment and some of his classmates had prepared to cover the quarterfinal game between Florida State and Clemson. The ACC allowed only family members to watch the game because of initial fears about the COVID-19 pandemic. Just before tipoff, the ACC Commissioner, John Swofford, walked onto the court with a microphone — an odd sight.
Swofford announced neither this game nor any other tournament games would happen. He then declared Florida State the tournament winner.
“I headed onto the court to capture photos of this surreal moment,” said Sment. “I captured one image that really stood out of the trophy ceremony. Florida State’s team had just ‘won the title’ and not a single player was smiling. I look back at this now and think, this was a huge moment in sports. To be there, it was an incredible experience for me.”
While usually behind the camera, Sment coordinated another event with a deep societal impact. For two years, he served on the Relay for Life executive team that raised wide support for cancer research. Sment felt compelled to volunteer after losing a close friend to cancer and seeing family members battle the disease. As part of the marketing executive conglomerate, Sment helped plan and run this year’s event virtually.
“Helping to put on this nationally accredited event was a ton of work but a truly rewarding experience,” he said.
In his free time, Sment enjoys playing an array of musical instruments and making music through his computer. He aspires to continue producing music while pursuing his goals in creative content within the sports media industry and photojournalism.
But first, he’ll collect his Virginia Tech diploma. Like spring graduates, Sment had to adapt to change during his senior year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s certainly been tough at times, but like many things in my life I try to look at the silver linings,” he said. “I got to meet many new people and go out and broadcast games. I made amazing memories I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
Written by Andrew Adkins