BY ALEX KARTMAN | Director | Ball State Sports Link
Storytelling has always been a pillar of the Sports Link ethos from Day 1. The feature stories produced by students in SL have garnered more awards than any other media produced.
Creating an emotional tale, with finely honed craft, story and imagery sets Sports Link students apart.
Alumni of the program carry the torch to create their own stories across the country.
Michelle Manzo has worked for the Cleveland Browns, High Point University Athletics and now Elon University Athletics.
At each stop, she uses the skills she learned at Ball State to craft compelling content.
“Sports Link gives you the basic knowledge of every aspect of production and you are doing it on a regular basis,” Manzo said. “It helps it all feel second nature when you enter the real world.”
After graduating from Ball State, Manzo interned in the video department of the Cleveland Browns. She edited shows, stories and highlights for the team. She learned the importance of timelines on the job.
“Having deadlines in Cleveland taught me to be a faster editor,” Manzo said. “I would cover games and come back to cut highlights. My first time I didn’t leave until 4 a.m., when the defensive coordinator arrived for work. I learned to be more prepared and have timelines already set up before you go shoot highlights, with music, graphics and transitions prepared.”
At Elon, Manzo oversees all aspects of video production in the athletic department from live events, video board introductions and feature stories. Her skills shine even more since she is the only professional on staff. The one-person production house has given Manzo completely different opportunities.
“My strengths are as an editor and technical director, but I have learned to be a jack of all trades,” Manzo said. “I called a lacrosse game as play-by-play [Wednesday night]. You have to go with the flow and learn to do it all.
“Don’t be afraid to learn a little bit of everything. Not everything has to be perfect. Know your strengths and play to them. Not everything has to be an insane competition to be the best.”
The Nicole Dennion Story
One of the most intense stories Manzo produced occurred in 2016 when her athletics director approached her.
Nicole Dennion was a senior on the Elon Women’s Soccer team who had battled cancer since her sophomore year of college.
To commemorate the Colonial Athletic Association honoring Dennion with the John H. Randolph Inspiration Award, Manzo was taken with producing her story.
The story seems straightforward, but Manzo discussed with SL students how she decided the final format.
“How do you take the emotional aspects of this story and frame it without sending viewers to the psychiatrist in depression?
“It’s not a story about a girl beating cancer,” Manzo said. “It’s a story about a girl who’s dying, but you don’t want to say that outright. It became a story about graduating despite all these challenges she faces.”
Manzo also discussed the details of her editing process with students.
“If I could tell a story without voiceover, I would do it every time,” Manzo said. “People should be able to tell their own satires. Never write a voice over until after a rough edit, and you decide you need one to bridge the story.”
Manzo worked feverishly over a two-week window to conduct interviews, gather footage, and edit the story, among her daily duties of live baseball productions.
Manzo graduated in 2011 from Ball State with a degree in telecommunications. She worked as the director and technical director on many of Sports Link’s live broadcasts and was executive producer of the Emmy-nominated program “Ball State Sports Link: Be a Fan”, which aired nationally on Fox College Sports.
Manzo doesn’t know what the road ahead brings, but she know’s the impact her past has on the future.
“Don’t underestimate the reputation Ball State and Sports Link have,” Manzo said. “I never expected having Ball State on my resume was a big deal. It’s actually a huge deal.”
If Manzo ever has job openings under her hire, she guarantees any resume with Sports Link will appear at the top, because of the character, skillsvand work ethic a degree from Ball State represents.