Ball State Sports Link, the nation’s first academic track in sports media production, has launched a new after-school program with high school students from Muncie Central and Muncie Burris: “Sports Media Production: The Experience.”

The seven-week after-school program started in November 2021, with local community non-profits the Muncie Sports Commission and Innovation Connector serving as facilitators for the initiative.

Chris Taylor, senior director of sports production and associate lecturer of media at Ball State University, is leading the project along with students from the Sports Link program. Students from Muncie Central and Muncie Burris are working with Mr. Taylor and the Ball State students weekly.

“I’ve been interested in sports for a really long time,” said Jack Eads, a senior at Muncie Burris. “I thought this program would be a great opportunity. This has fueled my interest even more as I am learning skills I can use.”

Workshop sessions were held in November and December at the Innovation Connector; those sessions have since moved on campus to the sports production center in Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media. The program also includes an opportunity for the high school students to shadow Sports Link for its production of the Jan. 22 Ball State women’s basketball game vs. Central Michigan on ESPN 3.

The high school students have been learning the elements of sports media production and are building their knowledge and skillsets to work on live productions in time for the upcoming Muncie boys basketball City of Champions Tournament on Jan. 29 at the historic Muncie Fieldhouse.

The inaugural City of Champions Tournament features four boys basketball teams: Muncie Central, Muncie Burris, South Bend Adams, and Greenfield-Central. Students in the after-school program are providing pre-event and live event coverage for the entire tournament.

“I wanted to be part of this program because this is what I want to do in the future,” said Shiair Morrow, a junior at Muncie Central. “I want to learn how to tell a great story. My dream job is to be a basketball sideline reporter in the NBA and WNBA.”

The Muncie Central vs. Muncie Burris game is slated to stream live at 10 a.m. Jan. 29, with a pregame show leading up to the 10:15 multi-camera live production of the game featuring students from both high schools co-producing the broadcast with Ball State students.

The pregame show will feature stories produced by the students on Shoka Griffin (Muncie Central) and Asher Donahue (Muncie Burris), along with additional stories and behind-the-scenes footage on the overall project.

Following the Muncie Central-Muncie Burris game, South Bend Adams and Greenfield-Central will play at approximately noon with a live radio and social media stream featuring student announcers.

The Invitational’s consolation game at 6 p.m. will also be a live radio and social media stream, while the championship game at 8 p.m. will be a multi-camera live production—all featuring students in the program.

The City of Champions Invitational originated with local community leader Jud Fisher. Mr. Fisher, president and chief operating officer of the Ball Brothers Foundation, recognized the need for the city’s two local community high schools to play each other in a tournament-style format, which would engage members of the community and attract participants from across the state of Indiana to Muncie.

To stay up-to-date on details about the tournament and the sports media program, and to watch and listen to the Jan. 29 games live, follow Muncie City of Champions on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.