Luis Gonzalez, Ed Julbe, and Amanda Fuentes in the SportsDesk studio with their CTAs

A team effort secured a win for SportsDesk last weekend in Los Angeles, where the students from UMTV’s sports show received a College Television Award (CTA) from the Television Academy Foundation. This is the first time SportsDesk, UMTV’s 30-minute live show focusing on University of Miami athletics, received a CTA.

“The award came about as a result of a lot of hard work, preparation, dedication and commitment to producing the best show possible. We had entered the CTAs many times before, but never even got so much as a nomination. I was obviously excited when I found out we got nominated, but I kept my expectations in check. That said, I knew deep down inside that we produced a quality show that had a really good shot of winning,” said Ed Julbe, faculty adviser to SportsDesk and senior lecturer at the School of Communication.

SportsDesk was one of 25 nominees selected out of 600 submissions from 174 colleges across the United States. NewsVision, UMTV’s live bi-weekly news show, was also nominated. The Television Academy Foundation is responsible for producing the Emmys and coordinates the CTAs to recognize student productions and to foster networking and career opportunities. This year was the 39th Annual College Television Awards competition. SportsDesk is only one of nine shows that received a prestigious CTA this year. 

Competing in the Sports category, SportsDesk was up against Molloy College and the University of Oklahoma, but won with an episode that showcased various storylines, strong reporting, and on-location shots. The winning episode aired in April of 2018, but took months to prepare for.

“Personally, I was in contact with all the reporters a couple of months in advance on what their stories were going to be. We’ve had situations where we have a beautiful show on paper and people aren’t there mentally or stuff doesn’t work out, and it won’t materialize. But this one was different,” said Amanda Fuentes, executive producer for SportsDesk and a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in Sports Administration.

The winning episode featured a segment on UM Baseball and Coach Jim Morris’ last season, an interview with UM Baseball Pitcher Evan McKendry, a story on a UM cheerleader who has MS, and a feature on a local high school football player who has experienced a great deal of tragedy in his life.  The episode also featured an exclusive one-on-one interview with Coach Sarah Barnes who had just begun her tenure as the head coach of the UM women’s soccer team.

“The interview with Sarah Barnes was about two weeks after she was announced as the head coach. We were one of the first people to get an interview with her,” said Luis Gonzalez, executive producer for SportsDesk and a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in Sports Administration.

That interview was secured by Fuentes who knew Barnes would be attending a meeting with Category 5, UM’s spirit programming board for students.

“I knew she was going to be there because I was an active member of Category 5. So I went up to her and said ‘we’re so excited you’re here, we were wondering if we could have an exclusive interview for SportsDesk,’ and she was so open to the idea which really worked out. I think that was one of our stronger pieces,” said Fuentes.

Aside from the strong interviews and impactful stories, SportsDesk was also recognized by the academy for its production.

“When the Academy first saw the show they said ‘it felt welcoming and it felt like we were a part of the show.’ They said it really gave them a perspective of ‘this is the news this week at the University of Miami.’ And that’s what you want to do as producers,” said Gonzalez.

Representing SportsDesk at the awards ceremony was; Amanda Fuentes, executive producer; Luis Gonzalez, executive producer; Valerie Ferrante, executive producer; Isaiah Kim Martinez, writer; Amanda Herrera, director; and Jay Shatara, writer. Herrera and Shatara both graduated UM in May of 2018, but attended the awards show to revel in the team’s success and celebrate their hard work. Although only six SportsDesk members traveled to LA to receive the award, the winning episode is a result of the hard work and dedication of the entire SportsDesk team.

“Student involvement is everything on SportsDesk. Without them, we don't have a show. Students fill every position from executive producer on down. It is in this involvement that students learn what it really means to work together as a team. From the production crew, to the on-air talent, to the engineers and support staff, everyone involved in the show played a crucial role. While there were six award recipients, it truly took a team effort to make this possibility a reality,” said Julbe.

According to Fuentes and Gonzalez, this win would also not be possible without Julbe. 

“Julbe is personally, my go-to. He’s such a mentor for me personally, and I’m sure for everybody on the show. I’m in contact with him a lot throughout the week with any questions or concerns and then, Friday morning, I’ll have him sit down and look at the rundown of the show with me,” said Fuentes.

Aside from his role as faculty adviser to the show, he has become a mentor to the students in their careers and in life.

“Throughout my time here at UM, [Julbe] has been essential and pivotal. Whether it’s him connecting me with people in the industry or just giving me advice about SportsDesk, producing, or even about life. He’s been there and I can’t thank him enough. He was the first person we called when we got out of the theater [in Los Angeles],” said Gonzalez.

The six students and alumni representing SportsDesk were elated after winning and called Julbe to share their excitement.

“On the phone call with him I said ‘I just can’t believe it,’ and he’s like ‘No, no you believe it. You guys deserve this. You guys earned this.’ That was the first time I got that perspective from someone and it was like ‘dang, we did do this’,” said Gonzalez.

To view the winning SportsDesk episode visit https://vimeo.com/263958635. To view the SportsDesk team representatives receiving their CTA visit https://www.emmys.com/video/39th-college-television-awards-sports. Visit https://www.foxla.com/good-day/395114305-video to see Amanda Fuentes and Isaiah Kim Martinez talk about SportsDesk and the CTAs on Good Day LA. SportsDesk airs live Fridays at 7 p.m. at http://umtv.miami.edu/shows/sportsdesk. The CTAs were held on March 16 in Los Angeles.