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Chestnut Hill's Pitts prepping for life after basketball with communications internship

02/28/2023, 2:00pm EST
By Jared Leveson

Jared Leveson (@jared_leveson)

PHILADELPHIA — The thought of studying communications in college popped in Trevonn 'Tre' Pitts’ head after a varsity basketball game for Cheltenham during the 2015-2016 season. 

It was an interview with the local media that sparked his interest. 

“(They) had come out to one of my first games ever,” the senior recalled. “[I got] interviewed and that kinda sparked my name up a little bit (and) got my name out there. After that, there was interview after interview after interview so I kept doing interviews and I got comfortable with it. 

“I was like if I’m speaking publicly [and doing] interviews, I might as well go to school for communications.” 

Pitts was fortunate enough to study communications and play basketball at Division II Chestnut Hill College. The 6-foot-3 guard redshirted his freshman season, adapting to college life and the increased level of play back in 2017-2018. He averaged double-digits in scoring his first redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, but things changed because of the canceled 2020-2021 season.  

Pitts realized that basketball won’t always be there. The senior still dreams of playing professionally overseas, but understands that working toward a future outside of basketball is worthwhile. 

“Playing basketball [overseas] still,” Pitts said about his future aspirations. “If that doesn’t work out, I can either get myself into a job or some type of program or where I can use my skills that I learnt from Chestnut Hill. Running a social media page, doing podcasts, interviewing people, something like (journalism).” 

Chestnut Hill senior Trevonn Pitts, above, is a communications major, interning with the school's athletic department prior to graduation. (Photo: Courtesy Chestnut Hill Athletics)

Pitts is tapping into Bob Heller’s vast knowledge and experience. Heller, Chestnut Hill’s Director of Athletic Communications, has helped many athletes find careers in the communications industry with his internship program over the past 25-years. Pitts is spending his senior year interning in the Sports Information office while helping the Griffins win games. 

“At first I didn't know Bob,” Pitts said. “But I would see him around the school and he (does) everything around the school as far as athletics go. With social media and all the stuff like that.

“It was funny because you really don't know what type of person he is at first, but after a while once you get used to him and get around him he’s a real good guy, like a real caring guy. He does everything for us.”

“I tell the stories of the student athletes,” Heller added. “Both their successes on and off the field [and court]. When it comes to my interns, I want to teach them how to do things similar to the way I do.” 

Heller’s got plenty of experience and is tuned into the Philadelphia college athletics scene. 

The Villanova alumnus has worked for Villanova, Drexel University, University of the Sciences, Lincoln University, and for the past two years, Chestnut Hill. He studied communications and earned his degree in 1986. 

While at Nova, Heller spent his time working in the sports information department and managing Harry Perretta’s women basketball teams. 

Heller discovered his knack for mentorship when he became the head manager, guiding younger peers and showing them the ropes. 

“I helped (Perretta) out with camps and other stuff,” Heller said. “I helped train some of his new managers as they came in, and then pass what I do to them and they trained others and so on down the line.” 

Chesnut Hill senior Trevonn Pitts competes in a District 1 playoff game for Cheltenham. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL File)

He worked in the ticket office at Villanova for three years after graduation before moving onto Drexel University.  But his desire to mentor and mold students persisted.

Heller left Drexel in 1992 and became the University of the Sciences’ Director of Athletic Communications in 1996. Heller actually coached men’s and women’s cross country at USciences from 1998-2017 and also assisted the women’s basketball team for seven years from 1998-2006. 

Heller’s internship program didn’t officially begin until he got hired as the Sports Information Director at Lincoln University in 2016. He’s mentored student-athletes across all sports at Lincoln from football, soccer, and track and field. 

Aasante Love, who high jumped on Lincoln’s track and field team, interned with Heller where she sorted and edited video and photo content. Love now works at OBP, an independent and full-service marketing firm based in Philadelphia.

Cleo Spear played soccer and came to Lincoln from Australia. She worked with Heller compiling and presenting statistics for Lincoln’s football and basketball team and now works with Atlantic Health Systems. 

When Heller moved to Chestnut Hill in 2021, he continued bringing on interns because of the success it yielded and a graduation prerequisite is the completion of a senior internship for academic credit. 

Heller is hands-on when his interns first start. He shows them how to make infographics, use the live-statistics program, and effective social media posting strategies. Heller also enlists them to help out on photo days or whatever else the athletics department might need. 

“(I’m) pretty familiar with what he's been able to do with the student-athletes,” Chestnut Hill head coach JJ Butler said. “One of our seniors from last year, Connor Flach, was able to work with him. He’s able to give young kids an opportunity to be involved in the athletic department on the media side which now a days with how technology is going everybody is a reporter, everybody can get a chance to have their say, but I think he shows them how to do it in a formal way.

“Kids gravitate to it because it's something they grow up with, they grow up on their phones, and take away what the media tells them, but Bob gives them a chance to be on the other side and I think they learn a ton from it.” 

Basketball season has taken away a lot of Pitts' time. But he’s learned how to balance his packed schedule and found the time to work with Heller. 

“It was rocky at first,” Pitts said about being a student-athlete. “It’s trying to get everything together and process everything all at once. With basketball it’s everyday, you got two-to-three workouts a day (and) you try balancing that out with your classes, being able to eat, [and do] your school work. But as time goes on you start to be able to put things in places, schedule things out, [and] work with your schedule.

“It makes you more mature (and) gets you prepared for the workforce.” 

Heller knows how stressful and hectic student-athlete life is and he works with the athlete to provide an appropriate workload.

“(Pitts is) gonna be working on getting all of our events on the university campus calendar and that’s something he can do during basketball season,” Heller said. “But when it comes to the spring he’ll be out helping me with the spring sports like lacrosse and softball and tennis. (I’ll be) teaching him a lot of social media, how to use it properly [and timing of posts], as not to bunch post after post after post and everything because that [gives you less views or clicks].” 

“Bob is going to do his due diligence and make sure Trey gets an opportunity off the floor that's going to allow him to be successful after the ball stops bouncing,” Butler added. 

 The Cheltenham native is enjoying his last season at Chestnut Hill, which plays in the CACC tournament Tuesday night. He’s focused on finishing his career strong then his attention will veer toward a life away from basketball and he’s eager to get started.

“I really want to be able to pick Bob’s brain,” he said. “That’s my goal for this internship. I wanna be able to pick his brain for every little technique that he knows, any little thing I can take from him that will give me the edge over everybody else and will most likely get [me] employed or be in competition to get a job.” 

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