Future Broadcasters Being Groomed at UMD


Future Broadcasters Being Groomed at UMD
Dec 3, 2018

By: Tyler Byrum

Before the opening kick, first serve, opening draw or first pitch, there are countless hours that go into a sporting event at the University of Maryland.

Students spend days on end honing their craft, practicing and training over and over before the big game is placed on their schedule.

Then the stage is set and all the roles are assigned; it’s time to look like the professionals.

The first to arrive and the last to leave every sporting event, the students of the BTN Student U program are striving for as much success as the athletes they cover. Broadcasting nearly 100 live sporting contests a year across 12 sports, these students provide the only resource for many to see their favorite team play.

Whether it is a parent from across state lines, an alum from miles away or a fan that simply enjoys the game, the Student U program is here for them.

The BTN Student U program is a Big Ten initiative that helps give students at all Big Ten schools an opportunity to gain professional skills in the media industry. Broadcasts are 100-percent student staffed and are continuing to expand ever since Maryland’s acceptance into the conference in 2014. The program itself has been up and running in the conference since 2011.

“You don’t necessarily have to be pursuing a journalism degree [to get involved],” Michael O’Neill, BTN production coordinator at the University of Maryland, said. “You just have to have a passion for production, sports.”

Viewers watching at home would never suspect the broadcasts were being done by students. Commentators are well-versed on the team they cover; camera operators don’t miss a single shot of the action and board operators choose the best angle possible.

Trained by O’Neill or one of 35 paid student staff members, all new students are prepped and trained before their first broadcast. However, there is no matching live experience. After their training, students are quickly “thrown into the fire” for their first game, O’Neill said.

“It’s a great opportunity to get your foot in the door into the production world,” Maryland junior Rhyce Woodhill said. “It’s allowed me to work on actual Big Ten Network shows and got me the opportunity to work on ESPN shows. … It’s my favorite part of being at Maryland.”

Woodhill, a communication major, works behind the scenes as a director and a producer for the broadcasts. He is joined by fellow student commentators, reporters, camera operators, production assistants and more.

“You know who the Student U students were in the classroom,” O’Neill said of the talent and skills his students gain. “We’re here to prepare kids for school and internships.”

Each broadcast is monitored by the Big Ten offices back in Chicago. Afterward, students receive professional feedback from people who work on the main Big Ten Network that serves as an umbrella to all of the BTN2Go outlets. Their success at their home institution leads them to direct contacts with people already in the industry.

Homepage image: A BTN Student U broadcast (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Big Ten Network)

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