While Michigan State University football players were preparing to play Wisconsin on September 24th, 10 sports journalism students worked with FOX Sports and the Big Ten Network (BTN) to prepare for the BTN tailgate.
MSU Sports Journalist in Residence Joanne Gerstner was the first to find out about the opportunity for student participation in the event and let JRN 418 students, the Sports Journalism Study Abroad group, and members of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) know about the opportunity.
The event was BTN’s first time at MSU with their new live show. Similar to ESPN’s “College GameDay,” the BTN Tailgate served as a pregame show, featuring Tom Izzo, interviews with MSU coaches, and more.
The students were responsible for raising awareness of the event and getting tailgaters to go to the BTN tailgate. Their methods included traveling from tailgate to tailgate on gameday to inform people of the events taking place -- most importantly, the BTN live show.
Kacy Kobakof, a senior journalism student, said her favorite part of the opportunity was “seeing the behind the scenes effort and then watching the live show come together. When we got there, people were still setting up, but by 10:30 a.m., the whole area was packed.”
Students involved in the event agreed that working under the BTN Network was a great opportunity for sports journalism students as it’s a highly accredited network.
“All of the journalism students want to someday be the people we were working with, which made it a valuable opportunity,” said Kobakof. “A lot of what we learn in class is different from the real world, so getting the real world experience was pretty cool.”
Laurel Young, a senior journalism student, agreed saying, “I think it's always a great opportunity to help a large outlet like BTN; you get new experiences and meet new people that can help you.”
Both Kobakof and Young are active members in AWSM. The organization, they said, brought them many opportunities, including having a panel at the Detroit Red Wings and the Pistons offices. Each week, professionals in the field speak at their meetings to discuss their job and how they got to the point they’re at in their career.
“AWSM has been invaluable to me and everyone who has been a part of it. I've learned so much and met so many talented women through it,” said Young.
Kobakof's best advice to those interested in sports journalism and the media is to reach out to professionals and ask for 10 minutes of their time to learn about what they do rather than simply inquiring about job opportunities.
Young piggybacked saying, “Get as much experience as you can, whether it’s volunteering, an internship, or simply networking.”
While BTN will only host one pregame tailgate for the football season, Young, Kobakof and other AWSM members can be sure the unforgettable opportunities won’t stop there.
By Lily Clark