By: Athletic Communications Assistant, Louie Abounader
BEREA, Ohio - Today's college students have now spent more than half of their lives within the presence of social media. It has become a major component of everyone's life, offering a straight-from-the-source media platform that anyone can connect with. The sports industry has been one of many to adopt social media as a means to engage with its consumers, understanding that reliable information and quality content can go a long way in solidifying one's brand. For Baldwin Wallace University junior men's lacrosse player Ethan Miller (Delaware/Hayes), the modern world of creative content and design in athletics has never been more appealing.
Aside from suiting up with "the boys" and extracting the most out of his education at BW, Miller has become the primary photographer, videographer, graphic designer, creative content producer, and social media operator for two Yellow Jackets varsity sports; men's lacrosse and men's basketball.
"I do a bunch of graphic and video work," Miller explained. "In detail, I focus on game day, recruiting, and accolade pieces throughout the season and offseason, which includes any clinics we operate and the overall branding of the programs I work with."
Being a lacrosse player can present some limitations with accumulating content for his own sport, with his presence on the field taking precedent. However, collaborating with the men's basketball team this season has given Miller the opportunity to enjoy the entire creative content production process.
"For lacrosse, I can't really shoot our own videos or photos because I'm obviously out there playing, but I can work with it after. For basketball, the fun thing is being able to actually take the raw photos and videos as it's happening. Right after the game, or even at halftime, I'll look at what I've got and start getting some ideas on how I'd want to use it. I'll want to upload everything, so I can start working on it right away."
Luckily, Miller has shared his creative content responsibilities on the lacrosse team with some noteworthy assistance from business partner and fellow BW student Wilson Misiuk. Miller credits Misiuk for gathering all the content while he is playing and for broadening his skillset with the introduction of videography. Miller is grateful for the chemistry both of them exhibit when collaborating on projects and acknowledges that the foundation of their relationship is comprised of a mutual passion.
"Wilson and I are two peas in a pod," Miller added with a laugh. "We're pretty much the same person. He might be a little more energetic than me, but with me being a little more shy, I think it balances us out a little bit. He started out on more of the video side, whereas I had more of a background in pictures and graphics. He's basically taught me what he knows, and I've done the same. We work really well together, and it makes it that much better knowing the person you're working with shares the same passion and work ethic as you."
As their relationship strengthened over time, the two began tossing around the idea of partnering up for an entrepreneurial venture.
"We started a clothing company this past summer," Miller discussed. "Before that, we had always talked about the idea, but we were finally able to kick it off this summer. It's a clothing brand that represents overcoming adversity and hardships in life with a positive mindset. We want our clothes to be appealing, while also adding some meaning to it."
Despite there being no shortage of work for the full-time student-athlete, Miller has envisioned a compressed daily regiment that would inspire his creative instincts for a long time.
"I've always been an artistic person, so I'm pretty sure I got that from my mom," Miller recollected. "When I was younger, I was really into drawing. But as I got older in high school, I took it upon myself to sign up for a couple graphic design classes. With that, I began teaching myself beyond the classroom with online tutorials and a lot of trial and error. I would work on projects with self-teaching methods, trying to add my own twist on it until it resembled something I was proud of. At that point, I had figured out that it was something I loved doing and wanted to pursue when I came to BW."
While Miller admits that lacrosse is what initially enticed him to enroll at BW, he has been pleasantly enthused with his experience in its digital media and graphic design program thus far.
"There have been professors on campus that have helped me when I needed questions answered or have helped push me in the right direction with some constructive critique on my work. I've done a lot of self-teaching, and Wilson has helped me along the way, but BW has definitely helped stepped my game up several notches from before."
Today, Miller is witnessing all his hard work come to fruition, appearing in the form of praise from his peers and audience. He believes that the reaction is what makes the whole process most rewarding and worthwhile.
"When I get a chance to post my work to social media, to have all the guys on the team text me or come up to me in class or practice later in the week saying they really liked my stuff, it makes me feel really good about what I'm doing and gives my job more purpose. You feel like you're being brought on board as part of the family, and that just makes you want to do it that much more. I have a lot of fun with it, especially when others show that it really means something to them as well."
Roughly two and a half semesters away from graduation, Miller has his sights set on continuing to build his clothing company with business partner Wilson Misiuk and climbing up the sports ladder in creative digital media.
"I would love to continue the clothing company with Wilson and just grow the brand to the point where it blows up and inspires people. But the creative content field is definitely something I would love to do for the rest of my life. It's never been a job for me, and that's what makes it so special. I've always been in sports, so hopefully, I can pursue an opportunity to do it for a professional basketball or football team or even at a bigger school, like Ohio State. Seeing all the content that they post and watching the reaction to it from others makes me want to be able to do it at that level."
As a promising young entrepreneur and aspiring content creator, he seems to possess the necessary drive and skillset to succeed in a rapidly growing sports digital media landscape. With each passing generation exhibiting stronger dependability on social media and digital-based platforms for sports content, the future is sure to demonstrate what Miller can bring to the table.