Marcus Wright started as a reluctant creator of athletics videos at Wichita State in 2018. He worked his way from Wichita State student to Major League Baseball photographer and considered that his specialty.
“The whole video thing scared me at first,” he said.
Two years later, Wright, as digital media coordinator, is in charge of creating the hype and recap videos that get the Shocker men’s basketball message out on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. His video after Wichita State’s win over Mississippi on Jan. 4 attracted almost 12,000 views on Twitter.
The work still feels new to Wright, a 2015 Wichita State graduate who majored in integrated marketing communication.
“I had a little experience going into it,” he said. “I did music videos on the side and that’s kind of what helped me progress a little bit. But I was only doing them like once a month or once every other month, so it wasn’t enough to really get good video, just enough to know the basics.”
Now his work is considered a must-see part of the fan experience for scene-setting video and pictures before a game and highlights, drama and music after the big wins.
“The largest thing is national awareness for the Wichita State and Shocker brand,” said Kayla Blanding, director of digital media and branding. “People are ingesting video way more than they are photo or words. Visual story-telling has a lot of longevity, legs and reach.”
Wright’s work connects the athletic department with fans and helps build new followings. It is also important for recruits.
Before Wright’s arrival, men’s basketball assistant coach Isaac Brown noticed other schools using social media prominently. The Shockers needed to do more with their videos.
Social media, in Brown’s mind, is critical to recruitment. With Wright’s talents, Wichita State is matching what other programs offer.
“It puts us right there on the same level,” Brown said. “That’s next-level stuff he’s doing.”
Video is a growing part of the resources race in college athletics. Some schools, especially ones with prominent football programs, devote multiple full-time positions to video, graphics and social media. In addition to Wright, Chelsie Johnson is video coordinator for the Shocker women’s basketball team.
“It’s an added bonus to everything that we do, because it’s giving everything that we do exposure,” Blanding said. “And it’s giving us exposure in a way only so many schools have. It puts you on a level playing field with other people.”
Wright, from Independence, took advantage of several opportunities to work in his field while at Wichita State. Those applied learning experiences started him on his career path that started with MLB Advanced Media and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Digital media coordinator, Wichita State athletics
He worked as a reporter and photographer for The Sunflower. He contributed to the campaign for the Flint Hills Media Project, an annual applied learning experience covering the Symphony in the Flint Hills, as part of the Elliott School of Communication curriculum.
Through the student newspaper, he met Blanding during post-season basketball travels and picked up freelance photography work with the athletic department.
“I look back at my time with those instructors and my time in the Elliott School and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said. “It really sparked the interest in that ‘OK, this is something I could do.’”
He works with Willie Schwanke, a student intern, to produce photos and videos for basketball and other sports. For a game recap, Wright starts his work by re-watching most of the action to pick the best highlights. He works into the early morning to edit, select music and produce the video for release the day after the game.
“If you ask me a year ago what I think about that, I probably wouldn’t be too enthused,” Wright said. “Now, I’ve really taken a liking to shooting video, producing videos. It really has become my passion.”
Schwanke’s help is critical and Wright enjoys helping him learn. Wright said he sometimes felt that relationship was absent during his time at MLB Advanced Media.
“I think it’s been cool to take a mentorship role with Willie,” he said. “I’m so new in this field. I’m happy to teach people what I know.”
Even early in his career, Wright knows how to take routine moments, such as getting off a bus, and the thrilling dunks and three-pointers to make into a video showcase for the Shockers.