Sports Link Goes To Wales

Twelve students from Ball State’s Sports Link program, along with directors Chris Taylor, Alex Kartman and Brad Dailey, traveled to the United Kingdom this semester to collaborate with students and staff at Cardiff Met University.

Ball State students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, include:

  • Rachel Berry 
  • Faith Denig
  • Jared Frank
  • Michael Garbarz 
  • Seena Greiwe 
  • Olivia Jansen 
  • Ryan Klimcak
  • Jordan Nemeth
  • Zach Roy
  • Tristan Russell
  • Dylan Thompson
  • Cory Vervynckt 

The course, entitled TCOM 497: Transatlantic Storytelling, is a semester long project between students at both universities. Ball State students will collaborate with Cardiff Met students on identifying, developing and producing feature stories on Welsh athletes. 

While on the ground in Cardiff, Wales, for 12 days in late February to March, students worked together to capture footage, scenes and interviews with the athletes. Then, upon return to the United States and post-production, the features will be part of a documentary with international digital and linear distribution.

Cardiff Met’s Lydia Hitchings, a standout netball athlete, is interviewed by Ryan Klimcak as part of the Transatlantic Storytelling Project.

In 2019, Ball State and Cardiff Met agreed to a five-year understanding which recognizes the mutual benefits of an educational partnership, which in part will lead to collaboration, opportunities and faculty/student engagement. 

Among the learning outcomes/objectives for creating partnership with Cardiff Met:

  • Enhancing the Ball State brand and meeting strategic outcomes of internationalization and diverse cultural experiences for students
  • Enhancing the Cardiff Met brand and program through our staff and student expertise in digital sports production and storytelling
  • Observing, learning and respecting cultural differences in the classroom setting
  • Experiencing the production techniques and values of sports not currently in the United States (rugby, international soccer, cricket) for a different culture with different values
  • Appreciate cultural differences, while understanding we are more alike than different in student collaboration and storytelling of Cardiff Met student-athletes 
  • Welsh and British history and cultural immersion with experience of local sport, castles and cathedrals in Cardiff
  • Broadcast formats, delivery and requirements in the UK
  • Compare/contrast digital content creation and storytelling styles
  • Constant increase in value of authentically global sport entities, including athletes
  • Increased economic growth and impact in the world of sport, including the increasing impact of sport on other industries

Students and staff from Cardiff Met University and Ball State University as the project started.

Since 2016, both Sports Link and Cardiff Met program directors Joe Towns and Lucas Burks, have continued to share teaching methods and curriculum growth.  

“This whole experience has been both rejuvenating and rewarding,” Taylor said. “To take our program international, all while develop life-long relationships and experiences for students and staff is something I am very proud of. Sports Link is now global.”

In Fall 2018, the first virtual exchange between students of each University began and in Spring 2019, Taylor virtually conducted a sports storytelling workshops with students at Cardiff Met. 

“I was looking around for courses similar to what we were trying to create, a live sports broadcast production degree, and there are not many in Britain, those are more journalism based, “Towns said. “That is how our relationship started with Ball State. Now we do virtual lectures back and forth, their students watch our live streams, and our students watch theirs and they give feedback to each other and collaborate globally.”

In May 2019, Taylor and assistant director Brad Dailey, traveled to Wales and worked with students at Cardiff Met on story development and storytelling skills, observed students in the field, met with sports media and team personnel within Wales, toured sports stadiums and logged cultural experiences for students.

The Sports Link site visit to Cardiff strengthened the partnership — and the mutual desire of both institutions and programs — to build an embedded international field experience for our students. 

In September of 2019, Towns and Burks returned the visit with a trip to Ball State. The duo observed and engaged with Sports Link students in action — from the classroom and studios to live broadcasts and producing in the field.

The opportunity provides identifiable evidence toward Ball State’s Destination 2040 including undergraduate excellence and innovation with emphasis on international opportunities and globalization; and scholarship — of discovery, integration, application, and teaching.

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