Many young athletes dream about playing sports at the college level while still in Little League. Not too many children dream about being a broadcast journalist. But junior guard Rachael Bilney knew she wanted to do both.
"Being a college basketball player was a childhood dream of mine, and strangely enough, so was being a broadcast journalist," Bilney, a journalism and rhetoric & communication studies double major, said.
Bilney has been named the women's team blogger, updating the blog every week with a player's perspective from behind-the-scenes of the women's basketball team.
But her journalistic skills are not limited to print. What started as a conversation between Bilney and her father about Sophia Young, a current WNBA player for the San Antonio Silver Stars who launched her own website, prompted Bilney to come up with the idea to do something with broadcast journalism for her team.
Bilney created "Rach's Rundown," which is a series of videos highlighting the new freshman class of players.
Bilney said that the NCAA had outlawed media guides, which used to be sent to recruits to give them a sense of what the university and the team were all about. She said that "Rach's Rundown" was a way to show recruits that the freshmen were not only players but also normal college students. It was also a fun way for Bilney to gain experience as a broadcast journalist.
"Given the opportunity to combine [basketball and broadcast journalism], it was kind of impossible for me to pass up," she said. "My coach has enough confidence in me that he gave me free reign in this project."
Head coach Michael Shafer said that Bilney's videos were a way to bring life to the team by interviewing her teammates.
"Though the public relations department helped Rachael get started, her 'rundown' has been her idea from the start," Shafer said.
Shafer said that this series of videos, as well as her weekly blog updates, allowed for a different perspective for recruits and for the fans, as a way for the team and fans to connect.
Team blogging is nothing new for the women's team. When the team traveled to Norway and Sweden this summer to play exhibition games, Bilney was there to blog and play. Bilney said that men's basketball senior center Dan Geriot had been the men's team blogger during its trip to Spain during the summer of 2008.
"When we were preparing to go overseas this summer, my coaches and the public relations department were looking for someone to blog about our trip, so that duty came down to me," Bilney said.
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She said that there was enough positive feedback, especially from fans, that she was asked to continue updating outsiders on the team's insider information.
"People like to feel like they are in on something that is kind of exclusive," Bilney said.
Bilney will continue updating the blog every week, especially after each game, win or lose.
"I think it is especially important to blog after a loss," she said. "It helps add depth and objectivity to our blog."
Bilney may be blogging and recording more of her videos this season than she anticipated because of her season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
"We intended for her videos and blogs to supplement her playing time this season, but unfortunately, her playing time will have to wait until next season when she is healthy," Shafer said.
Though Shafer said he was disappointed over Bilney's injury, there seems to be a silver lining with Bilney's opportunity to expand upon her journalistic capabilities as a member of the team.
Bilney said she was unsure where her basketball or her journalism career would take her, but she was realistic about one thing.
"I know I won't be able to play basketball much longer," Bilney said. "But I know I want to pursue broadcast journalism, and that is something I can do for the rest of my life."
Contact staff writer Amelia Vogler at email@example.com
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