Sports Media students cover Clarke Central sports – Grady – Grady College

Become a creative problem solver and leader in mass communications.
Create multimedia narratives in service of the public interest.
Innovate in film and television visual storytelling.
Learn advanced skills for a career in mass communications.
Publish and produce your own work while honing your skills as a writer.
Train to be a future director, producer or cinematographer.
Become a scholar and innovator in mass communications research.
Gain advanced knowledge and understanding of new media.
Study communications skills aimed at shaping public opinion.
Meet society’s evolving health needs with communication.
Examine how we access, create and share media messages.
Prepare for a dynamic career as a sports media professional.
Influence strategic decisions with data-driven insights.
Get everything you need to apply for Grady and advance your college education.
Jumpstart your digital media career at Grady.
Advance your education in one of the top graduate programs.
Plan a visit and get a glimpse of your future at Grady.
Find everything you need to set yourself up for success at Grady College and beyond.
Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor.
Explore opportunities within the Grady network.
Explore study away opportunities, both domestic and abroad.
Get more involved and expand your network at Grady.
View Grady scholarships and financial aid opportunities.
See all the amazing work being done by students at Grady.
Everything you need to know about commencement.
From the history of the college to our impressive faculty and staff, learn more about Grady.
Learn what makes Grady one of the top communications schools.
Read about our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Grady.
Explore our state-of-the-art labs and facilities at Grady College.
Join us in our service mission to enhance the lives of others.
Get to know our award-winning faculty and staff.
Learn about this prestigious award founded at UGA & based in Athens
Stay in-the-know with the latest Grady news and events happening around campus.
Discover what’s new with Grady College and our alumni.
Get details on upcoming events happening at Grady.
Become a creative problem solver and leader in mass communications.
Create multimedia narratives in service of the public interest.
Innovate in film and television visual storytelling.
Learn advanced skills for a career in mass communications.
Publish and produce your own work while honing your skills as a writer.
Train to be a future director, producer or cinematographer.
Become a scholar and innovator in mass communications research.
Gain advanced knowledge and understanding of new media.
Study communications skills aimed at shaping public opinion.
Meet society’s evolving health needs with communication.
Examine how we access, create and share media messages.
Prepare for a dynamic career as a sports media professional.
Influence strategic decisions with data-driven insights.
Get everything you need to apply for Grady and advance your college education.
Jumpstart your digital media career at Grady.
Advance your education in one of the top graduate programs.
Plan a visit and get a glimpse of your future at Grady.
Find everything you need to set yourself up for success at Grady College and beyond.
Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor.
Explore opportunities within the Grady network.
Explore study away opportunities, both domestic and abroad.
Get more involved and expand your network at Grady.
View Grady scholarships and financial aid opportunities.
See all the amazing work being done by students at Grady.
Everything you need to know about commencement.
From the history of the college to our impressive faculty and staff, learn more about Grady.
Learn what makes Grady one of the top communications schools.
Read about our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Grady.
Explore our state-of-the-art labs and facilities at Grady College.
Join us in our service mission to enhance the lives of others.
Get to know our award-winning faculty and staff.
Learn about this prestigious award founded at UGA & based in Athens
Stay in-the-know with the latest Grady news and events happening around campus.
Discover what’s new with Grady College and our alumni.
Get details on upcoming events happening at Grady.

It’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday night, and instead of resting after a busy week and getting ready to go downtown for the evening, Amy Duggan and Avni Trivedi are preparing for their class.

But they are not in a campus building getting ready for a lecture. They are pacing the sidelines of the soccer field at Billy Henderson Stadium at Clarke Central High School. With the long shadows of dusk falling on the Kelly green field, Trivedi is taking pictures of the girls soccer players going through pre-game drills, while Duggan is finalizing details for the team’s opening graphics on Instagram.

Trivedi and Duggan are students in Social and Digital Media Production for Sports, one of the “advanced skills” courses in the Sports Media Certificate offered by the Carmical Sports Media Institute. This is not a traditional college class. Instead of attending lectures and taking exams, the students are divided into reporting teams to cover boys and girls soccer, tennis, and track and field on CCHS’s social media channels, including Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok.

Sports Media students also cover sports teams at North Oconee High School.

The Sports Media students are at practices and almost every home and away game gathering information, considering potential storylines, taking pictures, filming video, interviewing coaches and players, posting statistics and strategizing on how to create and distribute their content. 

“These students are providing a service to the teams they are covering, because if they don’t cover these stories, no one will,” said Carlo Finlay, assistant director of the Carmical Sports Media Institute and instructor of the course. Finlay attends almost every CCHS game with the students and has been part of this program since it started at CCHS in January 2020.

Chris Aiken, the associate athletic director and coach for boys soccer, is grateful for what the collaboration has provided for the high school athletes.

“It’s helped keep everyone informed about our season,” said Aiken. “It also has provided us with a lot of motivation to keep getting successful results and to keep that positive momentum going.”

Adam Walters, a Sports Media student who is on the team covering the Clarke Central High School boys soccer team, appreciates the opportunities this class has provided so close to campus. 

“It’s just such a unique opportunity to do things hands-on and to dive head first try some new things,” Walters said. “And, it’s in our own backyard.”

While many of the Sports Media students taking this course have aspirations for future careers in sports media, several alumni of the course are already employed working in similar roles. For instance, Kyle Soto (AB ‘22) is a digital marketing coordinator for the Nashville Soccer Club, Audrie Uphues (AB ’23) is a videographer for player content for the PGA Tour and LJ Jackson (AB ’22) is social media specialist for Purdue Sports Properties working with Purdue University Athletics, just to name a few.

There is more buy in than just going through the motions to earn a grade in this course. These Sports Media students are invested in their work groups, as well as to telling the stories of the athletes they are covering. The students are committed to communicating the athletes’ stories in as complete and authentic way as possible on social media.

“Our goal is to reflect the personality and vibe of the team,” Duggan said. “I want people to look at our posts and not see us…it’s about the athletes.”

Duggan admits that the class is more time-intensive than creating a few posts and taking some pictures. They are frequently messaging their classmates between games, generating ideas for content. And, they spend a lot of time collaborating in the car traveling to away games.

“It’s life-consuming because there is so much planning and talking about it behind the scenes,” Duggan said. “But we make time for it because it’s fun.”

Walters says that whether he is chatting with the soccer players before a game or texting Aiken during the week to ask his feedback on upcoming content, the personal investment in this class feels different than most.

“I think the relationships make it feel a little bit more elevated than just a project or just a class,” Walters said.

The community benefits from the partnership, as well. Keeping fans engaged and players motivated is an important way for the Sports Media students to learn about the community and get out of their normal class routine.

“Sports are a great lens to learn about community,” said Finlay, who has applied the training from his Service-Learning Fellowship program to this class.

Whereas most students measure their success by grades from their professor, for these Sports Media students the highest compliment you can pay them is whether the student athletes appreciate their latest posts.

Throughout the season, bonds have formed between the UGA students and soccer players. Trivedi admits she wasn’t sure if she would have much in common with the players at first, but she found they were very welcoming.

“They feel comfortable talking to us about what they like to see on Instagram are coming up and saying things like, ‘I love that post you made’ or ‘the photos look so good,’” Trivedi said.

“The girls ask us to tag them so they can share on social,” Duggan said. “That makes me feel good because it shows they like what we are doing.”

Walters agrees and says he is most gratified by the growth of the Instagram page, something he attributes to the success of the team, but also to the fresh content.

“We’ve got just random videos blowing up and we’ve seen crazy growth this season,” said Walters, who gets inspiration from professional teams but is also trying to build something unique. “We’re doing things kind of unique, but I don’t think we’re reinventing the wheel or anything.”

For Aiken, the professional content that the Sports Media students produce shines a light and records memorable moments for sports that are not followed as widely as football and basketball.

“They get to remember goals, assists, funny moments of practice, team bonding…it’s great to have it all captured and recorded in one place that they will be able to go back and review it for years to come,” Aiken said.

Wyatt Meyer, a junior on the boys soccer team, knows that CCHS has a unique partnership that not a lot of other high schools have.

“It’s pretty exciting to know that in a given game, there are people who are watching and trying to promote you as an athlete, as well as the team overall,” Meyer said. “Having the media team take on some of that responsibility brings a bigger crowd out at home games, for sure.”

Aiken recalls two years ago when one of the Sports Media students captured an electrifying play during a regional game in Loganville.

“The UGA student ran along the field, down the sideline with the video tracking the play and captured the whole build-up, to the actual scoring the goal, and then the celebration on the sidelines,” Aiken said. “It’s a moment I go back and watch all the time just because it’s so enjoyable to see the excitement of the kids.”

Aiken said the Sports Media students this year capture the soccer team’s overall successes well, including state rankings and goal differentials, stats that are really specific to boys soccer. This is especially meaningful since the CCHS boys team is still competing in the play-offs as of April 22.

The team and fans value content beyond posts about wins and statistics, including post-game interviews that profile different players, not just the star athletes.

“I love the kind of off-the-wall content,” Aiken says of videos like the recent player interviews where they were asked about their celebrity crushes. “It gives our student athletes time to show their individual personalities and what they’re like as far as students off the athletic field. I think those videos get a lot of engagement as well.”

Meyer adds that in the era of NIL, these social accounts are providing a platform for the student athletes to start marketing themselves.

“I’ve seen athletes create social media accounts dedicated to posting their own content so they can market themselves to colleges or professional teams,” he said. “For our team, it’s like we have a leg up on everyone else — the team is giving whoever performs well a chance to market themselves and open up potential future opportunities.”

One of the things that is most meaningful to the Sports Media students is the impact their social media posts are making on the community, whether it is the players, families or friends following the accounts.

Trivedi recalls one game where player Bella Yelton had an impressive play. After the game, Yelton’s father came bounding down from the stands asking the Sports Media students if they had captured the play. Indeed, they had a video of it.

“That was so cool because we were able to send it to him so he could have it in his memories now. I think they really appreciate us being there and being able to capture the best moments of these girls in high school,” Trivedi said. Trivedi estimates she takes nearly 1,000 photos each game.

The work the Sports Media students are doing is being seen not just by local family and friends, but also by people around the world. Brothers Patrick and Cormac Allen play on the CCHS boys tennis team and both sets of grandparents live in Ireland. Thanks to the CCHS tennis Instagram account, they can regularly see pictures and watch video of the matches their grandsons play.

“Everything that the students produce is tremendous, and it’s a lovely living archive of that moment that wouldn’t be there otherwise,” Nicholas Allen, father of Patrick and Cormac, said of the coverage of the team’s region tournament win.

As director of the Willson Center and the Baldwin Professor in Humanities at UGA, Nicholas Allen is familiar with the university’s outreach, and now he has experienced it in a personal way.

“Georgia, the University, is committed to public service and to elevating the state,” he said, “and this is a lovely example of a local high school, underserved and diverse, and the [Sports Media] students who have made a really positive intervention. It’s a great thing.”

Author: Sarah Freeman, freemans@uga.edu

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