MUNCIE, Ind. - We continue our Your Town Friday March Madness tour in Delaware County at Ball State University. There are about 22,000 students from all 50 states in Muncie.
Back in 1899, the school was private and called Eastern Indiana Normal School. Tuition was $10 a year! It eventually went under, but the Ball brothers, of Ball Jar fame, bought it and reopened it in 1918.
"My mom went here, and most of my family has gone here," said Alex Thomas. "My second visit I remember I walked out the door and immediately, I was like, this is where I need to be, and never once have I doubted it. It’s been amazing."
Thomas is a senior now and still can't believe what he gets to do, like a recent ESPN 3 broadcast of NCAA men's volleyball.
"Not everyone gets that opportunity which is insanely cool that I’m a student and get that chance," said Thomas. "We even had the referee at the volleyball game come up, and he’s like, so are you guys former students? Former players? And we’re like no, we’re both current students. And I was doing it with a sophomore and he was just blown away by that."
Chris Taylor, the Senior Director of Digital Sports Production, oversees the students.
"It was a freshman who was directing, and I was sitting next to her during both broadcasts, and I was just like looking over and like, this is a freshman directing for a national platform," said Taylor. "She’s going to be a rockstar, right?"
Taylor is a Ball State graduate and started working in the university's athletics department as a student. He left athletics as the Director of Communications and Marketing. And that's where he saw a need to get the Cardinals some TV coverage.
After leaving Ball State for a couple years, his phone rang, with news his Sports Link idea got the green light.
"He said I have a 10-month contract with no guarantees, and I was like, let’s do it."
Nine years later and his plan is working.
"I would describe Sports Link as the brand or the recognizable logo. We’ll do 30-plus live events to an ESPN platform every year entirely produced by students in all positions. We have students who have won professional Emmy’s competing against the pros."
And his students are playing a big part in March Madness.
"I’m flying down to Atlanta, and I’m going to be doing a lot of highlights for March Madness’s YouTube channel," said Thomas.
"Here in a couple weeks, I’m headed to the Final Four Men’s Basketball, and basically I’m doing their social media accounts," said sophomore Seena Greiwe. "When I’m able to go back and scroll through Twitter, and I see my stuff as I’m scrolling, that is an incredible moment."
Taylor couldn't be prouder.
"It’s exciting to see students like Alex and Seena and all of our group produce content and get it viewed or be on live broadcasts. And that’s a real rewarding experience as a mentor."
Taylor said Ball State's four-year Digital Productions track is the only one in the country.
As for Thomas, who is about to graduate, he would love to be on an NBA sideline one day!
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