BY KATIE WOLFERT | Special To Chirp City
For years this Emmy-winning telecommunications program, Sports Link, has been creating top-notch students ready to take on the sports production and digital media world.
As a senior business major, I knew little about Sports Link and all the hard exhausting time and effort these students put into their work. After spending more time around them, I knew I wanted to highlight these students and give the world an inside look into the lives of Sports Link students.
One of the first students I met was junior Erinn Casey, who continues to excel as a leader in the program. She was recently voted by her peers to the Sports Link Leadership Council, plus has served as an executive producer of live broadcasts on ESPN3.
The goal of this “Q&A” session is to give a junior’s perspective of Sports Link and offer another look into the lives of the students behind or in front of the cameras.
Q: Why did you choose Ball State?
- I choose Ball State because of Sports Link. I knew I wanted to go into some kind of journalism, specifically sports journalism. When I first found out about Ball State, I heard about their amazing telecommunications program and then I found out about Sports Link, and that’s what really drove me here.
Q: Did you look at any other schools for a sports production program?
- I looked at a few different schools, but at every other school that I looked only had journalism. But when I came to Ball State, I saw that the program was telecommunications, which had a combination of the journalism side and the TV side, so I thought that was a better umbrella for what I wanted to do.
Q: What attracted you to Sports Link and the program?
- Number 1: I could get involved day one, as a freshman. A lot of other schools let you begin working cameras or getting involved in production starting your junior year, but here at Ball State they actually want freshmen to get involved as soon as you get here.Number 2: When I came to visit Ball State, all the current students were so welcoming and it made me really excited that this program was on the rise.
Q: What do you think differentiates Sports Link from other programs?
- The involvement as a freshman. Also, that it’s across the board hands-on. It is not run by faculty. It is more faculty instruction and they let the students learn through trial and error. You can also get a little taste of everything here in this program, whether it’s on air, behind the camera, social media, etc.
Q: What opportunities have you had from this program?
- Starting as a freshman I got involved on the football Gameday show that we produce live on site. I was a camera operator for that my freshman and sophomore years.This year, I was producing the show and it’s really evolved into something that everyone here is very proud of. I have also worked on a few of the all-access shows we’ve had, which is the more traditional documentary style where we do feature stories on student athletes.I have also participated in countless live remote broadcasts we’ve had – soccer, field hockey, basketball, volleyball in a variety of different roles: producer, cameras, graphics, stage managing, etc.
Q: What has been your favorite experience through Sports Link?
- My favorite thing that I am involved in Sports Link is Gameday and it has been since my freshman year. I think it is so fun and there is so much excitement surrounding the event. Outside of the actual program itself, my favorite part has been making so many great friends. Every single one of these people in here are so talented, and they are also some of my greatest friends.
Q: How do you think the breadth of opportunities offered by Sports Link will open or has already opened doors for you to help your future career?
- I think Sports Link does a really good job of encouraging you to do a little bit of everything and to be educated on everything because when you are out in the real world companies are not looking for a person with one great specialized skill.Sports Link helps you in your job search because the students can do more. I think Sports Link offers so many different things that even if you don’t want to do it you can still try it. I actually interned this past summer at Comcast Sports Net in Chicago and I was surprised at how much I understood there. Everything here at Ball State is state of the art, so I felt really well prepared for that internship from what I have experienced in Sports Link
Q: Hands-on learning vs. classroom learning: which is more valuable in Sports Link?
- Hands-on for sure. Until you actually try a skill for yourself, you won’t remember it from reading it in a textbook. Trying something for yourself also gives you the opportunity to learn and build from past experiences to continue to learn.
Q: Dream job: What is it?
- If you would’ve asked me that a few years ago, I probably would’ve said to be in front of the camera. But now, it’s shifting more towards behind the scenes work. I’ve explored the idea of being a producer many times and I am doing that now at Ball State. It would be a dream of mine to work for an NHL team.
Q: How do you think Sports Link specifically has helped you figure that out?
- It’s so glamorous to be in front of the camera so I thought that’s what I wanted. I had tried it a couple of times in high school, but when I came here and I saw what actually goes into a show and I saw the people that were cut out for producing vs. on air talent and I realized that being on camera wasn’t the right fit for me.So I started trying a little bit of everything, not knowing if I would like it or not. But one of the best parts of Sports Link is having the opportunity to try everything and pick and choose what you like and don’t like and figure out what you may be good at.
Q: What do you believe is the greatest takeaway from Sports Link?
- In terms of the program, you can really do what you put your mind to. If you would have told me as a freshmen that as I would be producing a Gameday show and live events for an ESPN platform as a junior, I would not have believed it. I came into this program with little-to-no experience, so as long as you put your mind to something you can do it.
Q: Where do you see Sports Link developing in the next 5 years?
- I think Sports Link is being recognized on a national level and that is important for students looking to do this in college. I could see the program expanding, not only in numbers but in workspace size. If we keep up the work ethic we have this year and have had in years past, then there will only be more opportunities down the road.
Q: What advice do you have for future students wanting to get into the sports production industry?
- Don’t doubt yourself. If you have the drive to do it, you can do it. I am proof of that; you don’t need experience right away, just a good attitude going into it and the drive to do it. Once you get your foot in the door, just keep working at it. You can never stop learning things, and it is only going to make you better in the long run.
Q: What you be one word you use to describe Sports Link?
- Family. I see Sports Link as my home away from home. This is where I’ve made my friends, this is where I’ve grown so much since I was a freshman.