BYU athletics launches new student athlete driven video series

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BYU athletics launched a new student athlete focused video series called “This Week in BYU Athletics.” Each video recaps the past week’s sporting events, informs about upcoming events and includes a feature on an athlete.

The videos are posted weekly to byucougars.com and the athletic department’s social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

“We have a great fan base that follows us on social media,” said Brandon Despain, BYU athletics video services manager and creator of the series. Despain said they wanted to create something to “tailor” to their social media audience to “consume and learn more about our teams and our student athletes.”

Despain said the inspiration behind creating this video series came after he saw the musical “Hamilton” with his wife last spring, which emphasized telling one’s story. He said this experience made him realize he wasn’t completely fulfilling his responsibility of telling the athletic department’s story.

“We have such great student athletes at BYU. We really want to personalize and humanize them,” Despain said. “We want to give people a reason when they go to the game to say, ‘Hey, I know that person. I saw a feature on them. I want them to succeed.'”

The first video in the project highlighted women’s volleyball middle blocker Heather Gneiting. Gneiting is a freshman from Pleasant Grove, Utah, who talked about having a supportive family and what interested her most about BYU. She also discussed her hobby of sewing and her experience with the team.

Despain said the series will feature a different student athlete every week and will be hosted by a student athlete. Despain said the hosts will change with each video.

“Last week we had a swimmer,” Despain said about freshman backstroke, freestyle and individual medley swimmer Makayla Cazier, who was the project’s first host. “I think next we’re going to have a cross country runner, and we’re just going to spread it all around. … The idea is not to just do one sport. It’s the whole athletic department.”

Freshman backstroke, freestyle and individual medley swimmer Makayla Cazier hosts the first “This Week in BYU Athletics” video, launched on Oct. 24. (BYU Athletics)

Cazier said the videos not only allow fans to get to know the student-athletes, but student-athletes to get to know each other through hosting a video segment and putting names to faces.

Despain, however, said the videos aren’t focused around the host, like many other video series or shows. He said the host is just another way for student-athletes to be involved with the project.

“I think what makes us unique is that it’s really student-athlete driven,” Despain said. “We’re not trying to have a person get the attention, … so it’s not about the host. We’re not trying to make it funny or entertaining for that person. This is all about the student-athletes.”

BYU Associate Athletic Communications Director Duff Tittle said the athletic video services team plans to create weekly videos throughout the 2018-19 season and an extended season review sometime in June 2019.

Tittle also said their team is constantly considering new ways to use various communication channels. This will allow them to share what BYU’s student-athletes are doing in competition and in other areas of their lives.

“We plan to develop new ideas and features along the way,” Tittle said. “We’ve also been discussing ways to include Cougar nation in the show through the use of social media. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the pilot episode and look forward to making subsequent episodes even better.”

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