Blog by: Samantha Johnson
Friends ask why I spent the spring break of my junior year of college working every day for a class credit. My answer is simple:
“For the experience”
The access and opportunities I was given were truly incredible. How many 21-year-olds can say they interviewed multiple Major League Baseball players last week? Every morning of the trip I woke up not really knowing what to expect, but every night of the trip I went to bed thankful for the crazy and wild turns of the day.
“For the relationships”
The professional connections I made with this small group of journalists are unbeatable. Although we seemed like a “class” of journalists-in-the-making, we are actually much more than that. We are talented, skilled photographers, designers, videographers and writers. We hold great talent in our young years, and we are eager to show the world what we are made of. This trip was just a taste of our future as journalists.
“For the networking”
Each byline, each business card and each standup is another chance for us to network our talents with potential employers. At the end of the day, we all have one goal in mind: to be hired SOMEWHERE doing SOMETHING after graduation. If that happens to be somewhere in Florida, let’s do it! We shared our content, shared it again in hopes of being recognized and then we shared it again.
“For the fun”
Although we were hangry, sassy and exhausted many times during this trip, I can speak on behalf of our team by saying it was such a fun experience. We laughed more than we slept, we smiled more than we ate and we had a blast, because ultimately, we were a group of college kids in Florida for spring break living out our dream. What more could I ask for?
“For the love of the game”
Going into this trip, I wasn’t the biggest baseball fan. Now – three major league parks later – I have a greater appreciation for America’s favorite pastime. I appreciate the Cracker Jack on the ground and the smell of beer in the air. I appreciate the ultimate fan yelling at the top of his lungs. I appreciate the staff spending hours on end to please MLB supporters. I appreciate the child in the oversized-jersey idolizing his favorite player. I appreciate that player’s commitment to the sport. I appreciate the love of the game.
Thank you, Ball State Spring Training, for this irreplaceable experience. Signing off…
Blog by: Breanna Daugherty
Just imagine cracking jokes with friends before playing the game you love the most.
Now imagine it being 80-years-old.
That’s right, 80-years-old and playing baseball.
When I asked them why, some of them said it was the health benefits, or thecomradery, or it’s the love of the game.
They have a passion, a passion that has lasted their whole life.
A passion to play baseball.
While the members of Kids & Kubs I talked to kept telling me about their love for the game, I couldn’t help but think how I hoped any of my passions would last until my early 80s.
I hoped to be still taking photos at an old age with the same kind of passion they play the game.
But it wasn’t just this hope for the future that stuck with me, but a decision I had made a few years ago about passion.
When I was in high school, I had planned out the next 10 years of getting my undergraduate, masters and doctorate degree in psychology and working as a therapist. I had a plan until something changed my mind senior year, a few months before I had to make decision as to where I would go to college.
I finally accepted photography was my passion and that I should follow it. I followed my passion, not a paycheck.
In a way, it felt reassuring. Reassuring to hear how happy people were to follow their passion for so long.
I hope I felt just as happy following my passion for years to come.
Blog by: Josh Shelton
I knew there was going to be a fair bit of driving involved with our trip down to Florida. I just probably shouldn’t have added it up.
52 hours and some change?!? That is just insane.
That is literally two full days (and then some) of sitting in a car. Over an eight-day trip less than six of those days were not spent in a car.
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved covering baseball in Florida. I was on the field for crying out loud. I highly doubt I’d have this kind of experience before college at any other university.
I got to talk to Washington Nationals prospect and Terre Haute native Derek Eitel, New York Mets manager Terry Collins and even some fans that traveled to spring training from as far as Rochester, Minnesota.
I produced content that has the potential to be published throughout the Midwest region on professional news outlets as a sophomore in college (well, an advanced sophomore).
One cannot put a price tag on the amount of experience I am taking away from this trip. My butt sure is sore though.
Granted there were obviously breaks in between (otherwise that would probably count as cruel and unusual punishment) so we had the chance to stretch our legs and relieve ourselves. But 52 hours? Yeesh.
Besides the work experience and resume booster that this trip was, I made some friendships I didn’t think I would make.
I don’t know why I didn’t expect to make any sort of friendships, but I should have considering how much time we were going to be with each other. Plus, 52 hours in a car, kind of hard not to get to know the people around you.
Either way I will walk away from this trip with new friends, new experience and new memories; all of which I hope last a lifetime.
Ball State Spring Training class: 12/10 would recommend.
Blog by: Grace Ramey
Tuesday night after we arrived at our trip’s third hotel, I called my mom to give her an update on what we’ve done, where we’ve gone and where we’re headed next. One question she asked me was what I have learned so far this trip.
I pondered for a while on this question, wondering what Spring Training has taught me. I came to a conclusion: learning by experience is life’s best lesson.
Our professors can tell us what to expect, how to write and photograph stories, what to look for and how to interview subjects all they want, but until we experience it for ourselves, we cannot truly learn what it is like to report on Spring Training — or anything for that matter.
The access, enthusiasm and respect we have received from fans, players and team managers has been more than I would have ever expected. Like I’ve said before, I expected people to treat us as students, giving us limited information and access, questioning everything we do, not really caring to view what we produce. But I was very wrong.
Learning this has given me even more hope for my future as a photojournalist. If I am receiving this kind of access and respect as a student, what will it be like when I’m working for an actual publication? And if I’m getting these kinds of opportunities this early in life, I cannot even imagine where life will take me.
Blog by: Eric Kuznar
After five hours of moving on our feet in 75-degree heat carrying equipment and chasing stories, very few things overpower the deadening grip of sheer exhaustion. One of those things is hunger, as my fellow journalists and I found out over the past four days.
After chugging any available water and packing up the vans with cameras, stands, microphones and other assorted pieces of equipment, a car to car debate usually ensues over where to eat. It often devolves into one question, does the need to eat at this instant override the preference to find a local place that has deeper flavor not just in food but also culture and atmosphere.
The former usually finds us packing 15 people into the closest fast food joint like pickled sardines ordering over-processed food and burgers that shortly before order were in a deep freeze. However on the occasion that our morale is high enough to wait an extra 20 minutes has yielded some of the greatest fruits for our consumption.
As journalists it is our job to engrain ourselves into the local culture in varying levels in-order to find out how the people live, think and feel. There are fewer watering holes that bring together all facets of a community quite like local eateries.
The first day it was The Reserve, a local coffee shop in Sarasota that also served alcohol and food. Later it was The Village Fish Market and Restaurant in Punta Gorda, Jimmy Hula’s in Brandon and Moonswiners BAR-B-Q in Fort Pierce. All of these places are different in flavor, atmosphere and overall quality of food and service. What they all have in common is that the establishments represent the culture and people of the surrounding communities.
As journalists it is our job to act as a fly on the wall of the communities we cover acting as a receptacle for information we hear or see. On the rare occasion this part of our work can cross with pleasure as we eat and interact with the people whose responsibility it is to feed the local community.
I for one will always look to local eateries, short of complete starvation, for quality, taste, culture and real human-to-human interaction with the people that fuel the local area.
Blog by: Breanna Daugherty
Going into the some of the facilities, I wasn’t quite sure where I was allowed to go.
Hammond Stadium for the Twins was no different. I was switched to cover the team and went in with little knowledge of what I was going to cover for the day.
After some confusion, we made it up to the press box and set free.
There was no location briefing.
There was no map.
A small group of us went on a mission to see where we could go. Along the way we met a Ball State alumnus near the Twins’ bullpen. He was very helpful in our adventure and didn’t shy away from asking questions Ball State.
I made it to the practice field and stood outside nervously for a few minutes. I made some photos of the players walking out of the dugout, and left.
I went back a few minutes later and a staff member was standing outside. He asked me if I was scared to get on the field. I simply said “no” with a laugh and told him I wasn’t sure where I could go and that it was my first time in an MLB atmosphere. From there, he told me where the best places were to go, especially to not get hit.
I walked out onto the field, cautious of flying baseballs and being the only female on the field.
They didn’t pay any attention to me. Perfect. I didn’t want them to.
I really didn’t think I would ever be that close to players. Nor did I realize how tall they actually were.
In a sense, I was “fangirling” at the opportunity, rather than the players.
It renewed my feeling of wanting to go into sports photography and telling the stories of players, player interactions and the game overall.
It was refreshing to have more access than I expected, not just for my photography but also for my sense of direction for my work.
Blog by: Grace Ramey
Today, a few of us had the pleasure to report on Kids & Kubs, a team consisting of players 75 years of age and older. As much as I have enjoyed reporting on the Mets, Twins and other teams, I think I enjoyed today the most.
When I first heard about Kids & Kubs, I immediately was interested. I always value conversations with those older than me. They always have the most fascinating stories to share — a goldmine for journalists.
Today, I was able to film, photograph and interview the team, learning their history and goals. Every single one of the players was extremely kind and willing to share with us.
What surprised me the most was how well they played. While they may be withered with age on the outside, the Kids & Kubs players hit the field rejuvenated in a way reminiscent of their young, energetic playing days.
A sign posted on the North Shore Park diamond fence read, “You don’t stop playing because you’re old. You’re old because you stop playing.”
Several of the players I spoke to talked about how appreciative they were of the exercise and youthfulness they get from playing with the team. To them, it isn’t just a sport — it’s energy, life and camaraderie.
These men and women proved to me how age is just a number. As one of the players said to me, “You only have one life. Get out there and do things you enjoy.”
Blog by: Josh Shelton
Coming into today, my expectations were low.
The four of us that were going to the Nationals spring training game expected very minimal access, but made the trek across the state anyway. We made the right choice.
We got our media passes and even though the picture that was used was from two years ago, they let me in.
I made my way down to the field and was in awe. The sun was shining, partly cloudy and a slight breeze blowing in from right field. The Bermuda grass had a perfect bounce to it and did not look real, but was soft to the touch.
The feeling of being on the field in perfect weather plastered a smile on my face for the rest of the day.
Then I connected with broadcaster Bob Carpenter to do a quick interview before watching the first inning and a half from the press box (and what a view it was).
The rest of the day was spent pacing around the bullpen trying to film relief pitcher and Terre Haute native, Derek Eitel.
Luckily, he remembered me from when I reached out to him via Twitter and was happy to entertain an interview.
We were back on the perfectly manicured Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and I was doing what I loved: telling the stories of athletes.
My group left; amazed by the kind of access we had to the field and the content we got that day.
Maybe it was because our expectations were so low or maybe it was because we had so many good stories to go back and tell. Either way, I wouldn’t trade this trip for the world.
Blog by: Sharpe L. Marshall
Today was a good day.
Todays trip to the Nationals and Red Sox game at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches was one to remember to say the least.
The day started by getting official media passes from the media office on the Nationals side of the ballpark. When I say official, I mean official. They had our pictures on them and everything.
Inside the complex, it came to our knowledge that we had field access for pregame and batting practice. For someone such as myself, that was a great experience. I was able to get close to the players and get some great pictures of them preparing for the game.
The real taste of professionalism came to fruition when we found out we had access to the camera wells in the dugouts.
The atmosphere was nothing short of amazing. Being next to professional photographers, being able to speak with them and receive advice from the people who photograph baseball for a living was a great way to see where I am and what I need to work on.
From a fans point of view in this situation, being so close to all these players that you watch on television and see make amazing plays, was something from a dream. At one point, Bryce Harper walked right passed me after the inning ended, it was surreal.
The entire day was an eye-opening experience into the day in the life of a professional sports photographer, and I am super jazzed to get better at my craft.
Today was a good day.
Blog by: Eric Kuznar
On Sunday, I got the opportunity to cover the New York Mets vs. Saint Louis Cardinals. Yesterday, it was the Minnesota Twins vs. Saint Louis.
While yesterday was my first experience at a Major League Baseball game, the game today gave me an insight into what happens in order to make the games happen and fill the stands.
The Twins game showed me a new side of baseball that I have never experienced before. I played the sport growing up like many American kids; however,I stopped playing in middle school.
Seeing the activity and effort that goes behind the scenes of putting on a major league sporting event and the passion the fans bring into every game changed my perception of what spring training is about.
On Sunday I saw how passionate the fans were about the Mets organization. I was not expecting to see thousands of people packing the bleachers or fervent fans trying to get autographs.
At the Twins, not only did I see a packed stadium and many die-hard fans, but I also a lot of what happens behind the scenes to put on the game for the fans. I went everywhere from the field, the press box and the locker room. I interviewed two athletes, multiple fans and a coach during the several hours I spent searching for stories.
One thing that stuck out to me while I walked around the stadium, listening to people and taking in the scenes was the amount of culture of the fans surrounding the teams that traveled with their organizations for several weeks to Florida.
Walking around the Mets facilities, it was thick New York accents and with Minnesota it was fried cheese curds. While there are differences between the organizations, the one thing not different between the two organizations was the passion that these fans bring to the field.
It did not matter that the spring training games do not decide which team makes the playoffs later this season. These families that packed the stands cheering for their favorite player and team cared only about witnessing a game they love and passing on a tradition that has been called America’s past time.