The Last On-Assignment: 2016 Battle of the Palouse
Two years removed from my last-ever Argonaut assignment, I reflect as to what my mind was focusing on as I embarked on covering the 2016 Battle of the Palouse.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016 –
A snowy and chilly night at the Palouse, but it didn’t stop me and a group of about six people to cover the game of basketball. It wasn’t just a basketball game, it was the annual renewal known as “The Battle of the Palouse,” featuring the Washington State Cougars and at that point in time, my soon-to-be alma matter Idaho Vandals.
Why “soon-to-be?” Graduation ceremony was to take place on the 10th, which also was plagued by snowy and chilly conditions. While the biggest moment of my academic life was near, even though I wasn’t officially done until 16th due to Finals Week and my 24-hour farewell radio show, I had one more task to report.
This basketball game I was traveling to, not that far of course because its in Pullman, was bittersweet. It’s my last basketball game I had a chance to shoot, and this was my final on-assignment as a collegiate student. More importantly, one last opportunity to prove my school wrong that I was an asset.
The score would say Idaho struggled and couldn’t stop WSU’s three-point shooters, resulting in a 61-48 loss. This one holds a special part in my quote-on-quote nostalgic heart.
Heading into Beasley Coliseum, where on May 6, 1992, Metallica performed as part of their “Wherever We May Roam” tour to promote their self-titled album, also known as “The Black Album,” there was a lot of mixed emotions, but always remained focused.
A little Jason Newsted bass solo that stormed Cougar Country that night in 1992 for you guys.
My task was simple, film the game and make my last two videos. The first being a news report that’ll be accompanied by a voiceover and a recorded interview featuring Idaho men’s basketball head coach Don Verlin. The other was a four-minute highlight package of the game itself.
What I wasn’t doing is asking the questions or writing the game itself. That wasn’t my beat, so filming was my priority and liked it that way. It has been since 2013 that I’ve filmed a men’s basketball game, as my eyes on sports filming were volleyball, lacrosse and high school football. Hell, I filmed a women’s basketball pre-season game before the men. I had nothing to lose other than build stock to my name going forward.
My "I'm at enemy territory" face. Maybe its "I can't believe this is it after tonight" face. Who knows what my mind was fully thinking when I took this shot. By the way, we had to look great when doing our tasks. It was the sports editor's rule. Probably one of the only things I didn't disagree about that semester.
This night should’ve been peaceful without conflicts, but it wasn’t the case. No, nothing happened that caused such a thing, but I’m not going to lie that one out of the six from our group that went to Pullman with me, I wasn’t particularly fond of.
There was animosity that’s been ongoing for a better part of two months. The vibe was straight out of a bitter divorced couple. Pure silence between us.
I’ve sensed that after weeks of writing about the drainage at Guy Wicks Field (which forced our soccer team to play the Big Sky Conference tournament elsewhere) about a week or so prior to the game, our acquaintanceship seemed to be strained for good.
Therefore, there was no reason for me to even speak to the individual, who was also leaving for greener pastures. Our egos were too big for our bridges, and have gone our different paths ever since.
With that in mind, I was simply focused about shooting the game, to prove my worth. Just like how I felt about everyone else. I’ll let them do their thing without interference. Result? It worked out.
It was entirely business for me being there, and all of us gathered before the game and halftime, sipping a Coca-Cola. This bit me over time, but I stayed quiet the entire night because when I do what I love and am 100% invested, I’m on “game mode” from start to finish.
As I have a Coke, I've never noticed the sofa standing out until seeing this picture again. Anyways, here's some of our group that were in Pullman that night. Not sure what the conversation was about, but I don't recall it was about our assignments.
Even before arriving to Pullman, it was self-silence. Although I’m not denying that the ride consisted of Nikki Minaj’s attempt of “Black Beatles,” the number-one song in the country, made the road interesting. By the way, her version was unbearable.
My 12th grade psychology teacher told me on the last day of high school, “have fun and enjoy it.” I’ve struggled for years, but on that night, I did enjoy the moment because it was the last on-assignment I’ll ever do as a student.
Just being there to shoot basketball and using the tools I’ve learned from my sports reporting class was pure bliss. I tend to pick up how shots are executed in the world of sports fast, and basketball was no different. Even after two years, I still use those tools and it worked out in my first-ever hockey game I shot two weeks ago.
After the game ended, the task was far from over. I had to record a video interview of Verlin, which I wasn’t satisfied as to how the audio came out. Too much echo and I take audio quality seriously. If the audio isn’t good, my product suffers and to a degree it did.
When I got back to my LLC dorm, I spent the next four hours choosing clips, editing two videos and find copyright free music while playing “Black Beatles” on repeat (I'll admit it). Might’ve had a whole slice of pizza, but what I ate was a blur.
I uploaded the newsreel first because it had to be instant. As The Argonaut video editor that semester, videos are timely, and a news package was timely. I didn’t mind how it turned out, but the interview audio bothered me most. The shots I’ve selected worked because it fit the script I wrote. Never use clips that doesn’t match the description. There’s an advice for you reading this.
The last-ever news package I did at Idaho, and compared to the highlight video, I wasn't 100% satisfied of how it turned out due to the interview audio. At least I made an attempt of making a graphic box to make it special.
Once it was around 2 am, I stopped working the highlight video and continued working on it during my last Production Night. Took me about another two or so hours, and when it was finally done. I was ready to upload it on the Argonaut’s YouTube channel, but I saw one clip on the opening sequence being way too short and showed a blank screen.
Even if it was a tenth of a second, it was back to the drawing board and had to render it again. Finally, after a day’s worth of effort, my last ever Argonaut video was uploaded on Thursday, December 8th.
While the video was rendering, and it took forever, which was the biggest issue I had with my five-year-old Toshiba laptop, I spent a better part of 90 minutes writing letters to the 14 other editors as a sign of peace. Some were simple, others were lengthy, but once I left the office for the final time, I left pretty satisfied.
Bittersweet night and little did I knew where my life was heading once this chapter ended. Everything happens for a reason, and this portion has molded me to fight for what I want and not let anything get in the way of accomplishing my dreams.
Sure, not many cared about my works most of the time, resulting me of saying that I wasn't "over" (wrestling term of having a supportive group) and mid-card at best. However, I ended my tenure on a high note instead of a downer. While writing has become my priority instead of videography, I still want to do more entering 2019 because its what inspired me to pursuit this profession.
While strained acquaintanceship's occurred and felt underappreciated, that’s made me bitter, hungry, and wonder sometimes “what if.” One thing was certain from me, when I’m doing an assignment, it’s an escape and on that cold Wednesday night, it was the end of a nice little chapter.
To this day, on-assignments are my adrenaline rush and it's what keeps me alive.
There’s nothing like it than doing works at a venue, whether its at a gym, football field or at a race track, I’m alive. The fact its been two years is mind blowing but allows me to reflect on the ups and downs I’ve had over the years.
To me, “The Last On-Assignment” was a key moment in my growth and profession. That’s why I’m sharing this story and what I felt that time period because its way of opening to people about my journey. There’s always a story to be told and this is no exception.
#Idaho #WashingtonState #Vandals #Cougars #BattleofthePalouse #TheArgonaut #2016 #retrospective #basketball