Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

BY CONNOR NICHOLS| Ball State Sports Link

“With the 48th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Sindarius Thornwell.”

Near the end of June, I had the opportunity to attend Thornwell’s NBA draft watch party in his hometown, Lancaster, SC. Throughout the night, I shadowed him at the event — everywhere he went, I went. Eventually, he sat down and watched the draft as he hoped to get a call from his agent.

I sat on the floor for over two hours with my camera focused tightly on his face, and when it was announced the Bucks drafted him, and moments later traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, the pure joy in the room is very difficult for me to describe.

At that moment, Thornwell had a frozen smile on his face as his family and friends surrounded him with excitement.  After he spoke with local media, he walked to his grandma and cried on her shoulder for several minutes.

To be able to capture that moment on camera and be in the room of someone who was drafted into the NBA is something I will never forget, and I will always hold close to my heart.

That night was one of the many amazing moments I was able to be a part of this summer as an intern for Gamecock Productions at the University of South Carolina.

In my time at Gamecock Productions, I produced over 10 videos surrounding South Carolina athletics, including hype videos for football, baseball and women’s soccer, which garnered over 10,000 views and 4,500 likes among Twitter and Instagram.

I’ll be extremely honest. When I made the decision to move almost 10 hours away from my family and friends for the summer, I was a little nervous.

Almost as nervous as Michigan’s Vincent Smith when he saw South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney running at him in 2013.


Key word: almost.

I had to step out of my comfort zone and go somewhere for the summer where I would be able to grow as an editor and cinematographer, but more importantly, an interviewer.

In my two years at Ball State, I interviewed a few Ball State athletes and their family members, but I primarily focused on operating cameras during interviews and editing the feature story when the interviews were completed. I thought I was decent at interviewing, but I didn’t feel extremely confident with my skills because I didn’t have a passion to get better at it.

That changed after my experiences with Gamecock Productions.

In the early weeks of my internship, I volunteered to interview Chris Silva, a sophomore basketball player for the Gamecocks. Silva had not seen his family in five years because they live in Gabon, Africa, and for the first time in being at South Carolina, he would return home.

Throughout the interview, I often caught myself smiling while I listened to Silva talk about how much his family meant to him. As I tried to focus on actually asking questions, rather than saying a command statement, such as “talk about,” it started to become natural to have a conversation with him.

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Instead of worrying about the list of questions I had in my lap, I simply just listened and responded with follow-up questions for what I was curious about.

I acquired the information my boss needed to produce a feature story on him for the start of basketball season, and it was an amazing feeling to be fully engaged in an interview, which is something that is difficult to accomplish when operating a camera.

I never thought I would have a passion for interviewing, but throughout every interview I did, including head football coach Will Muschamp and standout wide receiver Deebo Samuel, I found my interest in doing it to increase every time.

I did not think I would enjoy interviewing someone, but in just three months, I quickly discovered I love it, and it’s because I stepped out of my comfort zone.

I stepped out of my comfort zone coming to South Carolina, and I stepped out of my comfort zone when I decided it would be my mission to be the interviewer whenever I had the chance.

My experiences with Gamecock Productions helped me realize stepping out of your comfort zone can be frightening at first, but when you least expect it, you will find a passion for something you never thought you would have.

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At the end of the day, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, and I am thrilled that I took the chance to move to South Carolina for the summer.

At Sports Link, we all respect Gamecock Productions, led by Paul Danna, Sports Link alum Joey Buschur, the staff and the students.  Even though the summer months are a slower time in collegiate athletics, the opportunity is what mattered most.

I was able to be a part of some amazing experiences, but more importantly, I was surrounded by people that gave me the opportunity to find a new passion.

A passion — and more skills — I bring back to Sports Link for 2017-18.


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