Three Ashland University students majoring in journalism/digital media (JDM) had the opportunity of a college career Saturday, Jan. 11, when they worked for CBS Sports Network covering the Ashland University women’s basketball game.
AU seniors -- Elizabeth Bucheit of North Canton, Chris Bils of Findlay and Ryan Sampson of Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. – were hired along with John Skrada, operations manager for AU’s journalism and digital (JDM) Program, and Tim McCarty, JDM professional instructor, to be part of the CBS crew broadcasting the AU game.
The CBS Sports Network televised the Ashland University women’s team, the defending Division II national champion, as it squared off against conference rival Michigan Tech University.
“This was a unique opportunity because when a company like CBS comes in, they don't usually hire students,” said Dr. Gretchen Dworznik, associate professor and chair of the JDM program. Dworznik said AU was able to get its students hired because of Skrada’s connections with CBS through his freelancing work and the students’ abilities.
“Our students were hired because they have been trained how to do the work because of all the remote productions we do in the journalism and digital media program,” Dworznik said. “It's an incredibly unique opportunity that students at a school our size would rarely get. Quite honestly, students at bigger schools would not get this kind of opportunity.”
The AU students were thrilled with the opportunity to work for CBS News.
“Working for CBS Sports was an incredible experience. While the three of us have all participated in live streamed broadcasts of sporting events before, it was awesome to be able to participate in one that was on such a large scale,” Bucheit said. “The crew was very nice, and did not treat us any differently because we were students, which gave me confidence to run my position even though I had never done that job before.”
Bucheit noted that this professional experience will look great on her resume. “The more real world experience that you can get in our field, the better. While classroom learning is very important as a digital media/journalism major, the hands-on experience is invaluable,” she said. “Being chosen as a student to work on a professional broadcast with people who have been working in the field for years will give us all something to say about ourselves that most people can't say.”
Bucheit said she was prepared for this experience because of her education at AU. “For the past two years I have been able to participate in sports broadcasts for both football and basketball, allowing me to understand the game from a broadcasting perspective and to understand the fast paced learning and adjusting that is necessary for the real world,” she said. “Without these prior experiences, I would have been totally overwhelmed working for CBS, but Tim McCarty and John Skrada have prepared us to hit the ground running.”
Bucheit, a 2010 graduate of Hoover High School, is a senior majoring in journalism and digital media. She is the daughter of Ronald and Susan Bucheit of North Canton.
Bils agreed with Bucheit, noting that the experience of working for CBS Sports Network was not one that he could have expected before Skrada approached him with the opportunity in November.
“The opportunities I have received because of the connections of the JDM faculty have been spectacular. It was amazing to see a large-scale production take place in Kates Gymnasium, and to be part of it was even more special,” Bils said. “I was on a headset providing stats to the production truck to be used for graphics, and to not only hear the process of a live broadcast coming together but also be a part of that process was extremely fun and rewarding.”
Bils said this is another opportunity that he can use to boost his resume. “I have had so many great experiences, from covering the past two Elite Eight tournaments in San Antonio for the newspaper, TV and the radio, to being the managing editor of The Collegian, to interning with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. This experience just adds to a list I will be proud to show to future employers,” he said.
Bils also noted that he was prepared for the CBS Sports experience because of the JDM faculty. “Their wealth of experience in multitude of different journalism fields and ability and willingness to share their knowledge -- both in and out of class -- makes me feel prepared to work in any field of journalism that I choose,” he said. “In particular, the experience that John Skrada and Tim McCarty have working broadcasts like this one and my own experiences working on broadcasts out of John's own truck made me feel very knowledgeable about what to expect on Saturday.”
Bils said he is very grateful to the JDM faculty for trusting him to represent the department. “I feel very blessed to be at a place that combines athletics and academics in a way that makes these types of events possible. To have a women's basketball team that competes on a national stage and a journalism program that can put students and faculty into a national cable production is not something that a lot of universities have,” he said.
Bils, a 2010 graduate of Arlington High School, is a senior majoring in journalism and digital media. He is the son of Patrick and Tina Bils of Findlay.
Sampson worked Saturday as talent stats, sitting next to the two game commentators and feeding them stats during the broadcast.
“The very idea of me working for CBS even for just one day was magical and a dream come true. Coming into my senior year I am at a crossroads trying to figure out what exactly am I going to do after college. I have to find a job somewhere and it’s a dream of mine to work on TV productions in sports,” Sampson said. “CBS sports is one of the leading television broadcast networks in the world, and the opportunity for me to get real life professional experience is unimaginable and an incredible opportunity for a college student.”
Sampson said the people who came in for the game from CBS were so friendly and they helped the AU students with their job responsibilities.
“Chris and I were on the same radio channel as the stats coordinating producer and we would coordinate the stats to the producers in the truck and to the talent next to me,” he said. “Getting this experience is a huge resume builder. Trying to find a job in TV and media itself is hard enough as it is. It’s a very competitive industry and employers are looking for youth and experience when it comes to hiring personnel.”
Sampson remains positive and believes this game experience with a major TV network broadcast will put him “way ahead of the curve” compared to other students who don't have the same experience.
“I honestly can say that I would not have gotten this opportunity if it wasn't for my great faculty in our JDM department. We have one of the strongest departments at this university and big things are coming for the JDM department,” he said. “The faculty are so well experienced in the field and they help teach all the students in the department how to work in the media industry and prepare us for the professional world.”
Sampson, a 2010 graduate of Sachem High School, is a senior majoring in digital media production. He is the son of Ronald and Lori Sampson of Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###
Spotlight banner caption – Chis Bils (left) works next to Elizabeth Bucheit during the game, while Ryan Sampson works beside the game commentators. Photos by EagleEye Photography.