The St. Louis Summer Stories program brings together high school students across the metropolitan St. Louis area and equips them with the tools and knowledge to capture stories from the community. And once again, OWC solutions played a key role.
In its second year, the program has partnered again with the legendary baseball organization the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals provided the teenaged storytellers with a venue, voice, and talent to produce great stories in the field.
Working around the pandemic
In the summer of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic threatened to upend plans to launch the program. With a bit of creativity, the use of outdoor spaces, Zoom calls, and social distancing, the student-led group produced fantastic pieces and stories. Cardinals alumni Ozzie Smith and Ricky Horton donated their time and served as interview subjects for the students to gain experience with real-life celebrity talent. The program was a grand slam and is back for 2021.
Why the Cardinals love St. Louis Summer Stories
The St. Louis Cardinals are something of a local institution. Despite the MLB team’s smaller market, the Cardinals have the second-highest attendance of all teams in the league. Many Cardinals players grew up, played, and retired in Missouri and actively donate their time to the organization. Cardinal Nation superstars Ted Simmons, David Freese, and Kyle McClellan made themselves available as interview subjects for Summer Stories.
St. Louis Summer Stories provides “a great opportunity for students to be able to tell the story to Cardinals fans in the St. Louis community from their perspective,” shares Joe Pfeiffer, Director of Corporate Sales for the Cardinals. “Probably my most fun part of this experience this summer has been just sitting here and watching the interviews.”
Steve Douglass is the Stories Leader for St. Louis Summer Stories. “I believe [Summer Stories] will fundamentally change education. To help students identify their story and be able to identify their audience and to be able to construct a visual story.”
One of Steve’s goals was to employ iPhone cinematography since 95% of his students use a smartphone daily, ensuring that the skills gained through the workshops are retained and accessible.
An incredible opportunity for students to meet sports heroes
Having exclusive backstage access to the team was not lost on the students. “Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to do all these things that otherwise I don’t think I would ever be able to do.” says Jack Douglass, one of the program’s participants. My favorite experience was to interview the newly inducted Hall of Famer Ted Simmons.”
Joe Pfieffer concurs. “They did a great job of their research of Ted Simmons. It was refreshing for him to answer questions that were well thought-out, instead of just off the cuff. Ted Simmons was impressed.”
David Freese spent time meeting with each student and answered questions about his legendary home run from game 6 in the 2011 World Series. After interviewing Freese, Summer Stories participant Kassia Fundou said, “I learned how important it is to keep believing in myself and pushing for the things I love, even though all the unknown and uncontrollable aspects of life.” She adds that the interview was a highlight of her time at the program.
“The most difficult part is that telling a story is hard when there’s meaning in it,” says Brett McMillan, Multimedia Manager for the Cardinals. “You do feel that heaviness as you come in and try to do a representative job of telling a story and of representing the people around you.” Brett showcased the professional media facilities at Busch Stadium and taught students how to conduct interviews.
Former Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan shared his experiences as a professional athlete and inside his community-building projects. Sanjay Callfee shares how he felt interviewing the MLB star. “Kyle taught me that you can have a huge impact on a community simply by using your platform. His work in Haiti and North County Saint Louis was so inspiring.”
Kyle McClellan operates the charity Brace For Impact 46, which renovates homes in need throughout St. Louis. Joe Pfeiffer added, “Kyle’s unique. He’s a St. Louis native, played here, won a World Series championship with the Cardinals, and is doing amazing things in our community through his foundation.”
OWC as technology partner
Editing on Final Cut Pro proved to be a professional yet affordable workflow solution for the students. Apple offers heavily discounted software available for students as well as their educators. OWC provided high-speed RAID storage, Envoy Pro FX storage, and Thunderbolt Docks for the workshops. One student shared, “I was able to edit and export at the same time. I’m so grateful to OWC by providing this equipment and making a great program even better.”
When asked if Joe Pfieffer and the Cardinals would participate in Summer Stories again, the answer is a resounding yes. The Cardinals media team used stories produced by the students during intermission segments between ends during a game. Pfieffer shared, “We actually used the content the other night before the game, and it’s that high level.”
Steve Douglass thinks that the experience will have a lasting impact on the students, adding that many past participants of the program have enrolled in film colleges around the country, and may not have had the portfolio to do so without Summer Stories. Joe Pfieffer agrees. “Can you tell your story? Because the reality is, if you’re on the job hunt and you’re looking for an opportunity, regardless of the industry you’re selling yourself. You need to be able to tell your story. So, these kids are learning how to tell stories.”
We literally would not have been able to do this without the help of OWC.Steve Douglass