"It's like getting into football by going to the Super Bowl. It really makes no sense," said rising senior and communication studies student Brian Mermelstein (he/him).
Though Mermelstein always had an interest in the Triple Crown races, he didn't have much knowledge of horse racing until he applied to a posting he saw for an internship position with the Kentucky Derby in 2021.
In May 2022, Mermelstein attended the Derby for the second year in a row to shoot photo and video for the Derby social media team. This year, he said, was different from 2021. Last year, much of his content was horse-centric because the crowd was only at 60% capacity. However, this year, he got the opportunity to cover the betting, fashion, food and the rest of the Derby culture.
Still, the most exciting part of Mermelstein's work was the two minutes during which the actual race took place. After navigating his way through the crowd to get to his position in the in-field right up against the rail at the finish line, Mermelstein waited with unyielding focus to get the perfect shot of the horses crossing the finish line.
After underdog Rich Strike won it all, Mermelstein was one of very few people that walked the horse on the track and back to the stable along with the groom and the trainer's daughter. On that walk, Mermelstein was able to capture a picture of the two walking arm in arm that blew up on social media.
"Being able to be with those people, and, like, capture their raw emotion was really, really cool," Mermelstein said.
Currently, Mermelstein is in Boca Raton, Florida for two months where he is the director of broadcasting and digital media for the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League. There, he will call games on a night-to-night basis and coordinate the digital and social media efforts for the 10 teams in the league.
Just a few days after getting back from Florida, Mermelstein will begin his third year working with the Danny Rumph Classic Basketball Tournament in Philadelphia. The Classic is a charity basketball tournament named after a young man who passed away from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in a Philadelphia recreation center in 2005. In addition to the basketball tournament, the foundation aims to provide free heart screenings for kids in order to detect undiagnosed heart disease and put AEDs in all city recreation centers.
"He was just a really talented young man that showed an initiative to want to be a part of our foundation as whole, not just our big basketball event," Director of Events for the Classic and friend of Rumph's Mike Morak (he/him) said of Mermelstein.
Morak noted that Mermelstein created great content for the Classic, and he is glad to see him bring in other Klein College of Media and Communication students to capture moments from the event.
In addition to his CMST major, Mermelstein is pursuing a minor in sports management and is completing a sports media certificate. He likes that his major allows him to take many different kinds of courses while still pursuing the sports side of the field.
"He's very talented, he's very technically proficient, and he's very, very passionate about what he does," said Managing Director of Student Media John DiCarlo, KLN '98 '06 (he/him). One place Mermelstein lends his talents to is Temple Athletics, where he shoots photo and video for men's basketball and football.
Mermelstein took JRN 3255: Sports Writing and JRN 3257: Advanced Sports Reporting with DiCarlo. He noted that Mermelstein came in with plenty of editing and production experience, but he admired his desire to improve his writing skills.
DiCarlo and Mermelstein have a running joke that the latter is always on the phone whenever DiCarlo sees him on campus. This, DiCarlo said, goes to show his relentless work ethic and the way he packs his time with as many opportunities as possible.
"He's ready for a full-time job now," DiCarlo said.