BY NICK PANOZZO | Ball State Sports Link
The distance between Holland, Mich. and Boca Raton, Fla.? Six states, 25 hours, 1400 miles. Yet, I still feel like I’m home.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been very homesick at times and have often thought about catching the next flight back to Michigan. The beaches here are different, the traffic is ridiculous, the temperatures are much hotter and I miss my family. But the sport I cover and the team I work for every day has made me feel like my home is in South Florida.
This summer I am working as a video production intern with the Florida Launch.
The Launch is a professional lacrosse team located in Boca Raton and is a member of Major League Lacrosse.
In a budding league like the MLL, budgets are tight. Video equipment and funding for such is not the top priority when trying to grow a sport like lacrosse in a nontraditional area like Florida.
I work with a DSLR and a tripod every day. No light kit, no crazy lenses and no fancy audio equipment.
However, the lack of some luxuries help spark creativity in the field — and despite the struggles of a slim budget — working for the Launch has been a dream come true.
I’ve gained a great group of friends among the other interns and office staff, plus I have made great relationships with the players on the team as well.
Creating content for a team and a sport that has held a place in my heart for years has been thrilling for me.
As the Launch retired Casey Powell’s jerseys this summer, I was tasked with creating a highlight and tribute video for arguably the greatest lacrosse player ever.
Basketball fans, take Michael Jordan. Soccer fans, Ronaldo. Hockey fans, Wayne Gretzky and the list goes on. This guy has been my idol since I began playing the game and he got to see my work in his honor the night of his jersey retirement.
I attended his press conference before the game and even got to speak one-on-one with him afterward. Powell is a remarkable human being who cares so much about the game of lacrosse and the community surrounding the sport.
I can tell you there are very few emotions more powerful than the excitement felt as I got to watch my tribute to a legend play on the video board in front of thousands of fans.
The best part? Seeing Powell smile and fans cheer as the video ended. These moments are the reasons why I love what I do.
Not only am I creating content for an organization and a sport I love, but I am harvesting great memories and having fun.
The following is a glimpse of a few of my experiences in Boca so far:
- I assisted the veteran players in hazing the rookies by shoving them under a bus–for a video of course.
- I interviewed the number one overall draft pick, Dylan Molloy, about his mullet
- I asked the team’s oldest player to name as many birds as he could during an interview and proceeded to listen to him list off avian species for six minutes.
- I taught an Ivy League graduate the proper way to cut steak.
- I saw Adam Sandler on his yacht a half mile up the intercoastal from my condo.
- I saw my first shark…twenty feet from me in the ocean!
- I broke Usain Bolt’s Olympic record in the 100m sprint running away from the shark.
But the best part so far has been creating content surrounding the best lacrosse players in the world and making close friends with every member on the team.
The lacrosse community across the country is an extraordinarily close collection of people. Lacrosse is family, and family is where your home is.
This is reflected well, even in the professional league, and shows me that this is what I want to do the rest of my life.
Working in — and being surrounded by — sports through the Launch and Ball State Sports Link has proven to me that home is a feeling, not a location.
Seeing the smiles and hearing the laughs of the athletes I look up to is all I need to know I’m gaining the right experience.
I have had many people text and call me this summer asking, “What’s it like being so far away from home?”
The truth is, while it can be tough, I have come to love it.
I have grown both professionally and personally over the past three months equally as much as I have in the three years I have been at Ball State.
What I’ve grown to realize is taking a step back to embrace the journey of life is essential for personal maturation and professional success.
I don’t need the best equipment or the largest budget in order to have incredible experiences. I need to surround myself with genuine people and take a chance on a place far from home.
My experiences in South Florida have helped me discover that, and if I have learned one thing over the course of this summer it’s this:
Finding a home in something you love is far more valuable than a home you can buy.