ESPN College Gameday Tour


As a j-schooler, I’ve learned how important it is to check my emails almost every time that I look at my phone. You never know when there might be breaking news or emails that need an immediate response. This was one of those times. UW-Madison journalism students were offered the opportunity to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the ESPN College Gameday set on Friday at three different times. There were a limited number of spots available for the tours, about 15 students per group, and the first students to respond were allowed to go.


Luckily, I was able to sign up for one of the times and was able to quickly make my way to Bascom Hill after work on Friday.



2011 was the last time that ESPN Gameday came to Madison. They had scouted the school the week before they came, and decided that Bascom Hill was the place that best represented our campus and would provide them with the most space for the set. Set producers and scouts had to determine how they would get all the trucks there, it is a very large hill after all, but they were able to park all eight of their traveling trucks on Observatory Drive at the top of Bascom. The same thing occurred this year when ESPN decided that College Gameday was heading back to UW-Madison for the Wisconsin Badgers versus the Ohio State Buckeyes game on Saturday.

Senior Operations Producer Judi Weiss lead our group on the tour. As a live show was about to begin, we first made our way to the main set where the broadcast desk set-up in front of Abe and Bascom Hall to take photos. We also got to look at the cameras and monitors set up around the desk.


After each group had a chance to take a few pictures, we were hurried off the set and up Bascom Hill to Observatory Drive where the main production trailer was. While the set itself is transported in different trucks each week when there is a different destination, the main production trailer and the tour bus travels to every location with the 65 cast and crew members.


We then went into the main production trailer to look a the set-up and even watch as a bit of the live show was produced. During a live Saturday morning show, 25 crew members made up of producers, the director, analysts, and other personnel, are squeezed into single trailer. It’s incredible. We were allowed to watch for a few minutes, then were hustled out as the next tour was about to start.

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It was a fantastic experience to see how a show as big as ESPN’s College Gameday is scouted, transported, set-up, produced, and torn down all in the matter of a week during EVERY SINGLE WEEK OF THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON. It’s an insane amount of work, but after touring the set, it is clear that each cast and crew member loves what they do and wouldn’t change it for the world.  


Jonah Beleckis’ letter to the editor


I stumbled upon Jonah Beleckis’ column “Letter to the editor: UW-Madison’s alcohol culture alienates non-drinkers” last spring while scheduling my posts for the Daily Cardinal’s Twitter account. As a member of the social media team, I would often times simply skim through the articles and quickly move on to create my caption. This article stopped me in my tracks.

“Hello, my name is Jonah.”

Beleckis hooked me from his opening line, pushing me to read further as if the title of the column itself had not already peaked my interest.

As a college student who has never had a sip of alcohol in my life, it is often difficult for me to find voices on campus that see things from the same lense as I do. Because of this, Beleckis’ column really connected with me. His experience as a student at UW-Madison who is a non-drinker is different from my own of course, but I relate to many of the situations that he discusses.

Beleckis recalls times where professors would make jokes about weekend antics, insinuating alcohol consumption, or times where he found himself standing in a packed Camp Randall crowd listening to the chants of “We! Want! More! Beer!” coming from the students around him. These are all common occurrences that most students on campus have experienced and can relate to. Few can attest to being uncomfortable with the casualness in which behavior involving alcohol is tossed around on the UW-Campus. Like Jonah, I know this feeling and relate.

Jonah really made me question UW-Madison’s drinking culture when he told the story of the first party he attended freshman year. He went to a house party where a cup of wop or beer or “whatever” was $5, the usual entrance fee on campus.

“My friend and I weren’t drinking, and after we informed the makeshift bouncer, he scoffed as if his bravado were up to peer review and asked me, ‘Why would you come to a house party and not drink?’ I bit my tongue and paid for an empty cup. We all make sacrifices to be accepted, right?”

Jonah’s final line from this paragraph, “We all make sacrifices to be accepted, right?” really stuck with me. No matter if you are a non-drinker or not, there are times in every person’s life where decisions are made in order to be accepted or fit the norm. He challenges the reader here to relate to his piece, whether they consume alcohol or not, and continue to read on.

To test the reader’s views on UW-Madison’s drinking culture even more, Beleckis provides statistics on binge-drinking specific to UW-Madison from Reonda Washington, the University Health Services Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator. One of the most alarming facts from Washington that Beleckis chooses to highlight, is that fifty percent of UW-Madison’s undergrads are considered “high-risk drinkers.”

This sounds fine, until Beleckis informs the reader that other UW-System schools reported 35 percent and that the national average was 36 percent. That puts in perspective how extreme UW-Madison’s drinking culture is compared to other universities.

I wish that he had provided more statistics on students that drink on campus versus those who do not. At the same time, I understand that there is most likely a lack of data on this subject but it would have been interesting to see more data on students that choose not to drink in his article.

Beleckis leaves a lasting impression when he encourages his readers to respect each other’s limits and differences.

“I’ve said no to a drink many more times than I’ve Jumped Around. I believe there are others on this campus who choose to say no, who might even have a harder time saying no.”
Through this column, Beleckis gives a voice to others on campus that are in the same or a similar situation as he is. He reminds those who struggle, or who feel isolated, that they are not alone on campus. Because of this, he makes it a personal and difficult article for one to forget.

Jonah Beleckis’ original article can be found here: 

This blog post was original published on as an assignment for Journalism 202 at UW-Madison.

How to Ace Your First Week of College

How to Ace Your First Week of College

Tomorrow is the first day of classes here at UW-Madison. In honor of the first day of school, I have accumulated a list of tips for making it through your first week without stressing and freaking out too much.

  1. Walk your classes before the first day: Being that I go to a school that has such a large campus, this is particularly important for me. While I may have had classes in one building before, walking my classes before school starts in order to find the exact room I will be in is crucial (umm…the Humanities building anyone?) This will also help you avoid the cliche of ending up in the wrong class and awkwardly having to sneak out (unsuccessfully of course). Even if your school has a small classes I really suggest walking your classes before the first day!
  2. Stay organized: Whether this means color coding your folders and notebooks for each class, writing out your schedule for the week including deadlines in your new planner, or simply just glancing at your class schedule the night before, just do what you need to do in order to be prepared.
  3. Don’t freak out: As simple of a tip as it may sound, it is one of the most difficult ones. You will most likely feel overwhelmed and the natural response is to freak out. Just don’t do it. You will get through it and figure things out!
  4. Don’t sit in the last row of class: It may be tempting. You can text, go on your computer–really do anything but pay attention to the lecture while sitting in the back. While you don’t have to sit in the front row either, find a place you feel comfortable sitting that will encourage you to pay attention in class. You’ll be thankful you did when midterms and finals come around.
  5. Be early: Especially on the first day, it is important to be early to class. This will allow you time to find your class if you get lost, pick the best seat in the lecture hall, and organize your things before the hall begins to fill up.
  6. Set multiple alarms: This goes back to being early, you can never be too early and setting multiple alarms can help this. You might press snooze on your first one so setting multiple will be your catch all. Besides, your mom or dad is not there anymore to wake you up and make sure you get going on time.
  7. Be outgoing and say hello: Don’t be that person. Don’t be the person that doesn’t look up, who doesn’t smile or say hello, or who gives the death glare. Just don’t be that person.
  8. Use your resources: You might still be figuring things out, even if you are a sophomore, junior, or senior! Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your RA, school counselor, or even just another student. That is what they are there for and usually will be more than willing to help you out.
  9. Don’t be afraid to call home. Sometimes the only thing that can calm you down or help you out of any situation involves a call home and hearing the sound of your mom or dad’s voice.
  10. Most importantly, DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN! It’s easy to get overwhelmed your first week, but you have all year for that. Have some fun during syllabus week.