I entered college as a Broadcast Journalism major; I didn’t want to be a weather girl or an entertainment correspondent, though. Instead, I had my heart being set on being a rugby broadcaster. As an actor my whole life, I thrived on the energy that came from being “on stage” and what better way to spread rugby than to be actively involved with it in the media?
After a year of college, I took a class with a great professor (What’s up Professor Puente?!) who got me hooked on Sports Marketing. I liked the communications/PR aspect of it, and made the decision to change my major in hopes of widening my horizons. The entertainment industry is cutthroat, and I didn’t think I had the right “look” to be on T.V. But that story’s for another day…:) I never regretted changing my major, but I did miss the idea of being in front of the camera.
I had an incredible opportunity to help with the broadcast at the Americas Pro Rugby Championships in Austin, Texas this weekend, and, to say the least, it was a dream come true. I owe the opportunity to the incredible Dallen Stanford, who I met about eight years ago when he was an Eagle. He’s started many rugby organizations, non-profits, and has been the face of USA Rugby corresponding with Brian Vizard. I’ve always joked to Dallen that I wanted to be him when I “grew up”, and even in my mid-20’s, the notion stands true. Dallen has been a mentor of mine since I met him years ago, and I feel so grateful to have him as a friend. Not only is he a great rugby player, he’s also a fantastic advocate for our sport in general. Dallen was doing commentary for the Americas Pro Rugby Championship game, and I was invited to be a part of the process. I jumped on the opportunity, booked my last-minute ticket, and two days later, I was on my way to Texas!
I arrived at the field, Dell Diamond in Round Rock Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect about playing at an awkwardly shaped baseball field, but apparently the field was a tiny bit smaller, which was granted by USA Rugby. The grounds were clean and gorgeous! I was greeted by an enthusiastic bunch of techies who helped me settle into the massive semi-truck. I never imagined that the atmosphere would be so methodically chaotic. And I mean that in the best way possible. So much was going on, but everything ran like a well-oiled machine, under the direction of Mathew and Patrick. The conductors of the editing process, they were cool and collected. Live broadcasting has a lot riding on it, so it’s important to be consistent, attentive, and very detail-oriented.
I helped run stats from possession to lineouts won/lost, scrums won/lost, turnovers, penalties, missed tackles, etc. Nothing makes you watch a rugby game more intently than running stats! I learned a ton about live editing, the possible errors that could occur, the importance of fact checking, and framing the feeling. One of my favorite lines was Mathew asking the cameraman to really get into Niku Kruger’s eyes when he kicked. Nothing like the passion of a true rugby player. Goes to show good camera work makes all the difference.
It was great seeing so many familiar faces playing in the match, which always makes my heart warm. I love the tight-knit community we’ve built here in the states. USA went on to win the match against Canada, mostly due to some great rolling mauls, footwork from Luke Hume, and a killer hat trick from Todd Clever! Talk about a great comeback to the American rugby scene, eh?
The MJAA match v. Canada was a real nailbiter. Ben Cima was able to put points on the board for the United States with his lucky kicking foot. There were some great runs from both sides, and the match was essentially a 50/50 possession battle. Ben’s 55 meter kick to seal the deal in the final minute was one that I’ll never forget; all of the broadcasters in the truck weren’t confident he’d attempt to go for posts, but he did it. It was INCREDIBLE! I’ve heard far too many people complain about the clip being far from exemplary, and for them I have a few words about that:
Ben managed to keep himself cool and collected. The kick was not close by any means. It was done in the final play of the game. The pressure was on. He’s under 20 years old and managed to nail the kick. The kick definitely should be celebrated!
Overall, the experience is one that I will forever hold near and dear. Thank you to Dallen for making this whole adventure possible, and thank you to Mathew and Patrick for being so kind and helpful. I can’t wait to be involved in another game in the future!