Three Lessons From @USAFootball

BY DREW DUFF | Ball State Sports Link

I have always been someone who is afraid of leaving my comfort zone.

During the one-hour drive from Muncie to Indianapolis for my first day at USA Football, I had to pull my car over so I could cry. I have never stepped out of my comfort zone like this. Commuting to a city I knew nothing about, working at an important company and not knowing anyone was pretty terrifying to me.

Safe to say, I’m happy that I didn’t turn the car around, as my mind had told me to do over and over.

Over the last few days, I’ve had time to reflect on my summer and what I’ve learned from it. I’ve boiled everything down into three very important lessons. These lessons are simple, and ones you may have heard before (I certainly have).

However, they are crucial to know and reinforce, not just in the media industry, but in life in general.

Talk to everyone

It seems too broad, and a little odd. You may be thinking: how could I possibly talk to everyone? What do I have to gain by doing this?

In short, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Here’s how I came across this lesson.

During my time at USA Football, I had the opportunity to attend professional shoots, where the company would film training courses for coaches. Instead of being my usual, quiet self when around people I didn’t know, I decided to chat with the video crew hired to conduct the shoot.

The director, Jason Johnson, owns his own production company and has worked with big companies like ESPN, Geico and Cadillac. Another member of the crew, Mike Norman, has worked in the film industry for over 20 years and has worked on films that have earned awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

They explained basic video techniques to me, such as the 180 degree rule and blocking, in terms I had never heard before. I was amazed at how much these men knew, and how much I still have to learn.

Talking with the video crew broadened my horizons, and opened up my mind to the world of professional videography. This also helped me learn another tough but still important lesson.

You know nothing

**Yes, cue the Game of Thrones references.


This past school year was my most successful with Sports Link. I produced more feature stories and was overall more active than I had been in the past. I learned this minute success made me a little arrogant.

I was humbled immediately when working with the professional video crew. They used advanced and expensive equipment, some of which I had never even heard of before.

They used cameras such as the RED Epic-W and the RED Dragon. These cameras shot the AMC drama Better Call Saul, along with many other high end Hollywood productions. I was lucky enough to use one of these cameras briefly, and had no idea what to do with it. I ended up slowing down the production due to messing up on a few shots.

In short, you NEVER know too much. As best put by Kendrick Lamar, be humble. Keep your mind open, and read. Read a lot.

Travel as much as possible

This is perhaps my favorite lesson. During my time with USA Football, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to multiple professional shoots.

The first was at the Indianapolis Colts facility. The next, just a week later, was at the Cleveland Browns facility in Berea, Ohio. Both of these shoots were so much fun. I got to see the inside of not one, but two NFL training facilities. This is something that most people only dream of doing.

The entrance of the Arizona Cardinals facility. It was 110 degrees when I took this photo.

The final shoot I attended was at the Arizona Cardinals facility in Tempe, just 20 minutes outside of Phoenix. When I learned I would be going, I was so excited. Not only was this a new city and a new state to experience, but I would be doing what I loved in the process.

The trip well exceeded my expectations. Even though the high temperature never dipped below 105 degrees during my trip, I really enjoyed my time there. When applying for jobs upon graduation, the Grand Canyon State will be at the top of my list.

Traveling to new places this summer gave me a new perspective on my life and the direction it’s heading. Saint Augustine quoted brilliantly about traveling: “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Reflecting on my time at USA Football, I could not be happier about how things turned out. Not only did I learn a lot and grow professionally, but I made life long connections along the way.

Next time you get nervous or anxious about a new experience, remember that leaving your comfort zone is how you grow as a person.

Thank you to USA Football and my peers for a fantastic summer!

My fellow interns (Photo courtesy: Wes Lorenz, USA Football)


Author: Sports Link Staff

Sports Link showcases Cardinal student-athletes’ accomplishments on the field, in the classroom and within the surrounding community. Follow @bsusportslink on all social media platforms.

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