By Raine Hernandez
Sport documentaries have been on the rise in recent years.
People in the sports world are always looking for something new to entertain and educate themselves with. The Toronto Raptors have Open Gym, the Maple Leafs have the Blueprint, ESPN has 30 for 30. Now, the Ryerson Rams have “The Journey To.”
If you’ve been to a Rams women’s basketball game this year at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), you have probably noticed the amount of cameras that follow the team and the game.
While some of the cameras are being used for Rams Live—the broadcasting group that streams all Ryerson varsity home games—a few of them are actually apart of a different project.
Justin Naro produces a documentary series called “The Journey To”, a 10-episode series that follows the women’s basketball team and their journey to the U SPORTS national championships.
The third-year media production student stated that he was inspired by another sport documentary series that the school has done in the past.
“They did this three years ago for the women’s volleyball team,” Naro said. “Once I had the idea in my mind, once athletics approached me, I jumped onto the opportunity and started.”
Naro has been with the team collecting footage since move-in day for the team began on August 27th. Since then, he has been with the team for almost every step of the way, including some of their away games and even a tournament at McGill University in Montreal.
“[Filming] gets awkward at times,” he said. “At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
However, after time passed by and a few tournament wins, and when the team started to gel a lot more, so did he. “We really bonded on that road trip. I love the team and we’re all great friends.”
While it may be smooth sailing with the team, Naro knew that that series would be impossible to produce alone, and that’s when he started to look for help. Luckily, he would be able to rely on fellow third-year student Zack Underhill, who also produces content for Ryerson Athletics.
Underhill helped film the documentary series one weekend when the Rams were on the road against the McMaster Marauders and Brock Badgers. Following those matchups, he had fallen in love with the process.
“I’ve always wanted to be an editor,” Underhill said. “We’re pretty passionate about it, and it’s a been a lot of fun.”
Commitment has been the most important element of the documentary. Naro and Underhill spend roughly 80 hours producing one ten-minute episode going through terabytes of footage, trimming and editing the footage, getting said footage coloured and gone through audio, closed captioning. Finally, it all must be approved by Rams head coach Carly Clarke.
“Full-time job,” he explained. “We have to do a lot of the little things, stuff people don’t see us do.”
Once the series will come to a close following nationals, both Naro and Underhill don’t know what the future will hold, but would love to stay in the field of sport documentaries after their time at Ryerson.
“I would love to continue to work on something like a sports doc again,” Underhill expressed.
The Rams are currently ranked fourth in the country with a 15-4 record. They will be among the favourites in both the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and national championships.
The U SPORTS national championships will take place March seventh through tenth, as eight universities from across the country will compete against each other for Canadian supremacy in women’s basketball.
Eight episodes have been released to date, every Wednesday leading up to the U SPORTS Final 8 women’s basketball national championships hosted by Ryerson University.