#SLFeatured: Chasing Opportunity in March

BY CHRIS TAYLOR | Senior Director | Ball State Sports Link
I recently blogged in Storytelling 101 how the hard won, hard-to-find, hard work in finding scenes is meaningless if you can’t provide motivation — the “why”.

I didn’t know “the why” back in November when my Sports Link crew produced live Ball State swimming vs. Tiffin University, but there certainly was a scene which captured my attention.

On that November day, freshman Chase Jackson placed first in the 100 backstroke at 53.46.  The scene had little to do with the his winning time, but more to do with Chase’s persona.

Our poolside reporter that day, Noah Reed, later interviewed Chase during the broadcast.  After the meet, Chase and I chatted more.

The Sports Link mantra “every athlete matters” was repeating in my head.  My gut was telling me there’s something special with this guy.  A little Tom Rinaldi was on my shoulder asking why?

It didn’t take long to find out — and a friendship was formed. Chase is an amazing young man, with a family and a story worth telling.

Our active scene hunting even sparked a USA Swimming story in the days that followed.

Like many other kids his age, the 10-year-old was glued to the television that day to watch the final of the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay at the Beijing Olympics. He was a proud American watching the United States overtake the French in a stunning finish, and he was ecstatic to see Cullen Jones, a swimmer who had the same skin tone as him, race up and down the pool at the biggest sporting event in the world.

Seeing Cullen Jones race in an Olympic final showed Chase that yes, you can be black and swim in the Olympic Games. As a black kid, he enjoyed being a competitive swimmer, but wasn’t fully certain that people with his skin color could reach the highest peak in the sport. After seeing Jones hold his gold medal, Chase Jackson knew there were no obstacles to being the best swimmer he could be.

Before we left for winter break in December, student producers Matt Vernier, Kaitlyn Young and Mick Tidrow were assigned the story. We knew there was angle to this story we had to pursue.

How could we get to Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones?

Sports is a relationship business, where connections — and Olympians — could be a phone call away.  Not only did we get to Jones, we facilitated a meeting between Chase and his idol last week in Raleigh, N.C.   Our Sports Link cameras were rolling.

On the way home from Raleigh, our crew started talking about scenes.  We bounced ideas off each other.  Chase contributed.

We played off his enthusiasm and excitement — ours too, honestly —  of what just happened hours before at the pool.

In between jamming to Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, even a little Justin Timberlake for Chase, the creativity started to flow.

What were the themes of Chase’s story?  How could we do a candid shoot to properly capture them?  What elements can we bring from a production standpoint to make them stand out?

“Chasing Opportunity” is coming in March. It’s the next #SLFeatured we are honored to tell.

But remember, the backstory isn’t the story.

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Author: Chris Taylor

Senior Director of Ball State Sports Link & Digital Sports Production | Lecturer of Telecommunications | 2019 Dean's Faculty Award Winner | 2017 Recipient of SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award | Storyteller | Producer | Emmy Award Winner | Sports Media Junkie | Social Media Strategist | Certified Bob Ross® Instructor | Country Music Enthusiast | Goldendoodle Owner | Follow me on Twitter @BallStateCT

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