If there is one thing people should know about Shelbretta Ball, it is that she is not a quitter. The doctors might have told her she couldn’t play on the basketball court, but that definitely did not keep her from staying on it. Once declared medically ineligible to play for the University of South Carolina basketball team early on in her freshman year, Ball wasted no time hanging her head. She jumped on the opportunity presented by Coach Dawn Staley to host her own segment on the “Dawn Staley Show”, a show edited and shot by Gamecock Productions.
‘What started as Brett taking a flip camera and reporting on the road trips then became a feature we call “Ballin’ With Brett” once the “Dawn Staley Show” started last season,’ said Marissa Kenney, Assistant Director of Gamecock Productions. The idea of “Ballin’ with Brett” is to feature the staff of the womens’ basketball team and to have Brett interview different members. ‘Her show became a hit right away and when we learned the team was going to NCAA Tournament, we traveled with the team and shot two episodes of “Ballin’ with Brett” daily, including post-game interviews after the big wins over Eastern Michigan and Purdue.’ said Kenney.
“At first, I went into it just to occupy my time and to find a way to stay around the team. Once I started doing it though, people started saying I was good at it and I felt like was good at it. I liked doing it; I enjoyed every shoot that I did and even though I never really thought about doing it before. It really grew on me,” said Ball. Although her switch from playing basketball to reporting about the sport has been far from easy, Ball has managed to remain positive. “The transition was tough because I felt like I was forced out of playing basketball. I didn’t choose to quit, but the aftermath started to be okay and I really started to like it.”
Ball seems to be transferring all of the effort and energy she once utilized on the court to her new position, hosting “Ballin’ With Brett.” Jumping into the world of reporting as a Criminal Justice major left her with a lot to learn. “I felt like I was going in circles and making the same mistakes during my interviews on my show,” said Ball. Instead of letting the hurdles stop her, she became determined to take her new circumstances and improve herself. In the middle of the show’s second season, she sat down with Diana Koval, USC’s assistant media relations director to figure out what she could do in order to be better. She also sought help from the directors at Gamecock Productions. “We coached her for on-camera and this year she's made great improvements by studying her female ESPN and WNBA announcer idols and applying what she discovers to her own reporting,” said Kenney. The changes not only helped the show, but also changed Ball herself.
“It was in the middle of season two when I stopped doing it just to be around basketball and started doing it because it became my passion,” said Ball. From that moment on, she became determined to be the best on-screen reporter she could be. Beginning to see beyond the on-screen sector of the journalism world, Ball sparked an interest in what all it takes to make a show happen. Figuring that learning to edit and work behind the camera would improve her on-screen skills, Ball then joined the Gamecock Productions team. “This year she also showed more interest in how to edit and shoot. It’s something she has no previous knowledge about, but she's a fast learner and grasped Gamecock Production's office workflow easily. We could show her how to do something once or twice and she's able to comprehend it and do it right away on her own,” said Kenney.
Kenney has remained impressed with Ball’s work ethic. Despite all she has gone through, Ball has never once failed to show up humble, positive and ready to work. “Brett is always camera ready - smiling and laughing and chatting with her guest to help ease them for the camera. She's very critical of her on-camera appearance and how she acts on camera, so she's always critiquing and taking notes about how to act, hold the mic etc,” said Kenney.
Although Ball has had several opportunities to give up or not put much effort into her show, she lives by a motto that advises her to do otherwise. “Never let your situation determine your destination. I remember my mom always had us read this attitude quote that says attitude can change your life and life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. That would be my message to anyone, injured or not,” said Ball.
Being a woman of faith, she also relies on her favorite Proverbs verse that encourages even when a person does not understand the 10% of things that happen to them, they must trust God with the other 90% of how they react to it. “Are we going to go into a slump or are we going to help that next person that may fall into our footsteps?” asks Ball.
Her determination and positivity has not been lost on those around her. “Brett's willingness to adapt to change and always take on a new project effects our office in a positive way. All our students and staff know of her medical condition, so to see her take something that was so negative in her life and turn it around to create what could be a potential career for her is an inspiration for us all,” said Kenney.
Ball hopes to help those in similar situations as her own by eventually hosting a show that focuses on injured athletes, giving them a platform to tell their stories. She is even interested in starting off behind the camera or editing, knowing the importance of both jobs.
Look for previous seasons of “Balllin’ With Brett” on gamecocksonline.com. Season 3 will premiere during USC’s next basketball season.
Image Source: Madisyn Kellough
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