@iD.Films raises the bar for Vassar Athletics’ social media platforms

It was the shot heard around the campus. With two seconds remaining and down one to league opponent Hobart College, men’s basketball guard Ben Freed ’23 inbounded a hail mary pass to teammate Jack Rothenberg ’23 who then hit the three of his life at the buzzer, sending the Brewers to the Liberty League semifinals. The bench exploded. Hobart players sank to the floor. Students crashed the court. Disbelief. Shock. Elation. One of the most memorable Vassar sports moments in recent memory.

At first, Devin Lee ’22, one of the two Vassar content creators behind @iD.films, wasn’t sure he caught Rothenberg’s shot on camera. Set up at half-court and poised to capture the pass from Freed, Lee prepared to follow the miracle attempt. But once the ball was in the air, he admitted he looked up. “I remember the pass went in and I panned with the camera, and I’m usually good about watching the viewfinder, but I looked up and I was like, ‘I have no idea if I got that,’” he recalled. He immediately watched the film back, and after much anticipation, hope and worry, realized he did, indeed, have it all. Freed’s pass, the stretched finger tips of the Hobart player, Rothenberg’s falling three, the scoreboard running down and, of course, the reactions of an entire gym combusting. He quickly put an edit together and posted to @iD.films’ Instagram account, while also sending out the video to various sports media accounts that a few of the basketball players had ties to. The next day, Overtime’s Instagram posted the footage on their own account, raking in over one million views and 165 thousand likes. SportsCenter’s Instagram DMed them three days later, with the post currently sitting at 15 million views and 1.6 million likes. And that’s only on Instagram. Millions more views and likes have followed on other media sites, including millions on TikTok. When recalling the moment of the pass and looking up, Lee laughed, saying, “I remember thinking, ‘Holy crap, he caught the ball.’ Then he shot and I was just kind of watching it. I was thankfully moving with my hands too, and got it perfectly … It was one of those things when it happened, we were like this should go viral.”

When Lee and Isaac Gallogly ’22, the other half of @iD.films, first set out to start their own social media account on sports content, they weren’t exactly looking to go viral––they were mostly just bored. “It was during COVID and I think we were just in our Main suite. One day, we said, ‘We should do this.’ There wasn’t much behind it,” explained Lee. During Fall 2020, the duo began looking into what equipment they needed to start and how to do it. Over that winter break, they invested in some cameras and began experimenting. “We were just really bored,” said Gallogly. “We needed something to do because we weren’t playing anymore. We needed something to pass the time.” Neither had much experience in media work before delving in––Gallogly did some video and editing in high school, while Lee had some background in photography––so much of their early process included YouTubing, doing quick Google searches and watching other content creators. One thing they did have plenty of experience in was sports, and they used their experience as former varsity athletes (both played on the men’s lacrosse team for their first two years) as well as their interest in watching different sports content creators to help guide them in their early days of filming and editing. “It helped that we had a sports background, because we kind of understood where the plays were going or where the ball was going to be getting passed to. But yeah, a lot of YouTube and a lot of just kind of fiddling with the camera,” described Lee. 

The duo also took inspiration from other college athletic teams and social media accounts. “Wesleyan and Tufts have, for as long as I’ve been playing lacrosse, had incredible content uploaded on YouTube and on their Instagram and everything,” acknowledged Gallogly. “I remember in middle school and early high school watching Tufts and Wesleyan highlights, and thinking, ‘This is really cool.’ They make it look like they’re incredible lacrosse players. So when I was thinking about, ‘Where are we going to set up on the field? How are we going to cut the clips together? How are we going to edit it?’ I was looking a lot at the Tufts and Wesleyan highlights.”

Once the duo decided to fully try and create their own sports content at the beginning of 2021, they reached out to the men’s lacrosse head coach John McCreery about filming the team. In their pitch, they pointed out how the best Division III teams all have highlights posted on their Instagrams after their games and how their content could be used as a recruiting tool. McCreery agreed. After straightening out some COVID restriction kinks with Vassar Athletics, the newly-created @iD.Films began filming for the men’s lacrosse team in Spring 2021 and started releasing content in Fall 2021. @iD.Films primarily works with men’s lacrosse––they film all their home games, often travel with the team and produce all their content, including graphics and photos, for the team’s Instagram. Gallogly disclosed, “Something that we wanted to do was reinvent the men’s lacrosse Instagram. Not that it was that bad before, but [pages from colleges like Wesleyan] look really professional and cohesive. It just makes the team look better from an outsider’s point of view.” Having clips and highlights on teams’ social media pages also serves as a great recruiting tool for different programs, allowing prospective players to receive an insight into the team, especially in this day and age when kids have so much access already to players and teams. Gallogly recalled his own recruiting experience when talking about how media content can help attract student-athletes to programs at Vassar, stating, “I remember being recruited for lacrosse and I was so interested in watching the team play, looking for highlights or something online, and just not being able to find a whole lot. So I think that it’s important for people that might want to play a sport at Vassar to at least have the ability to see what it’s all about, or see what the team looks like.”

Their content has not only elevated the quality of the men’s lacrosse Instagram, but has also inspired other teams to upgrade their content. Most teams now have social media managers that create their own color-coordinated “Meet the team!” posts and glimpses into their training regimens. Even the Vassar Athletics Instagram page has seemed to raise its own bar since the arrival of @iD.Films, with more video and graphic content. When asked about their contributions to the raised quality of the Vassar sports social media content, the duo were humble, showing their appreciation for the content put out by the other teams, but also how much it is an advantage for the different programs. “They’re doing a great job, and also being on the team and being able to have the time to put together those graphics; they look great,” applauded Lee. “Even [Vassar Athletics’ Instagram] as a whole has kind of pushed up what they’ve been doing, putting out more content and switching it up. So I think it’s pushed everyone to kind of put more time into it. And I think it’s a really important part of athletics at college or university that we didn’t have for a long time.”

Along with men’s lacrosse and men’s basketball, @iD.Films has also filmed for men’s soccer, field hockey, women’s rugby and has had requests from women’s lacrosse and a dance group on campus. They work regularly with Vassar Athletics and Communications to cover games and produce the different content for teams, and are appreciative of the access they can have with other teams as well. The different teams on campus are also grateful for the opportunity to work with the pair, as most Vassar programs don’t have the resources to produce such content, and for the Athletics, there are just too many teams to cover to have equal distribution. This is where @iD.Films steps in––they are open to film any group and are only a DM away. 

Still, their main work is with men’s lacrosse and even with all the coverage they have gotten covering other teams, including their SportsCenter shoutout, it is their recent traction with a lacrosse clip on some lacrosse highlight pages that they are most proud of. An edit of men’s lacrosse player Solomon Hess ’24 throwing a kayak check on one of his opponents was reposted on ECD Lacrosse and Lacrosse Network’s Instagram pages, reaching over 430,000 views and 31,000 likes. “That [clip] felt good, because we had been trying to get posted by the lacrosse accounts. And we finally did,” explained Gallogly. Lee continued, “Yeah that one felt better. The basketball one was just kind of like, ‘Wow, that was crazy.’ But the one of [Hess] that just felt good, because those [accounts] were the guys that we had been watching and the content channels that we tried to model most of our videos after when we were first learning and only focusing on lacrosse, so that was pretty cool.”

At the end of the day, that is one of the big reasons the duo is doing this content creation: they love sports, and they love their friends. Neither of them majored in film or media studies––they are both economics majors and have no plans to make this a profession after graduation, even with all their success so far. They started because they were bored like many of us during COVID, and invested time, money and effort into a hobby they enjoyed. They are grateful that it can remain a hobby they can appreciate. Gallogly elaborated: “I think it’s nice that it’s not part of what we want to do. Career wise, because by keeping it separate, it’s more fun, at least in my eyes. It’s something that you can do on the weekends or when we have time, and it’s sort of an escape from everything else. I think that if it were to be something where I was about making money from it, or something like that––we’ve never cared about making money from it or anything like that. And I think that’s freeing, because it’s just whenever you have time, and it’s enjoyable.” 

While at Vassar, it’s not only a hobby or interest they can use to entertain themselves, but also their content is something they produce for their friends and their schoolmates around them. Since COVID restrictions last spring, athletes have competed without any fans or family in the audience; the pair acknowledged how filming and recording for those athletes––and friends––was important to them. “Another reason we kind of got into it was doing it for some of those kids during COVID because no one was really allowed to come to the games,” elaborated Lee. “They obviously didn’t play many games, but for those seniors who kind of had to go through that [during] their last year, I think it was nice just to give them something that they can look back on and their parents could watch because they really weren’t able.” Although restrictions are now lifted and people can come to different athletic games, their experience of editing and posting highlights of their friends is unmatched, and showcases some of the unique benefits of attending a small school with a tight knit community. “We come home after a game and we’re sitting down with the guys that were just on the field. We’re all watching the highlights back and we’re like ‘Oh my God, look at that goal.’ It’s fun for us no matter what,” gushed Gallogly.

With the departure of the duo at the end of this year, the Vassar athletic community will be losing a big asset, although the pair believe that others will pick up where they left off. “I think somebody will [pick it up], even if it’s not like through @iD.Films, like hopefully somebody will see that there is a market for it, or at least that people enjoy it. It’s not that we did anything special for the shot at the basketball game, but like if there’s nobody there filming like that doesn’t get put on SportsCenter. So I don’t know. You just need people with cameras to be there,” clarified Gallogly.

Still, @iD.Films were the first ones with cameras, and Vassar athletes are appreciative of their work, effort and care. I remarked to the duo during their interview that they kind of made Vassar a sports school, to which Gallogly simply responded with a smile, “Maybe it was always a sports school and nobody knew.” 

 

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