Armed with a vision and a plan, Professor Kecia McBride and 17 Ball State students explored Title IX—legislation aimed at eliminating discrimination within educational programs, especially within athletics—and the role that successful women’s programs play in shaping the expectations of young female athletes.

The class then produced a documentary, Mintonette. Using the Burris Laboratory School girls’ volleyball team as a vehicle, the film examines the program’s history of success, its impact on the local community, and the resulting expectations it has placed on the players.

With this team as a focal point, McBride led the class through an unforgettable semester that would be challenging, rewarding, and anything but ordinary. There weren’t exams or lengthy lectures but instead a hands-on project that would test their skills and teamwork. It was one of the interdisciplinary seminars offered at the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry.

From a wide variety of backgrounds, these students braved the worlds of ethnographic study, documentary filmmaking, and high school girls’ volleyball. And everything else in between.

They met and got to know the girls’ volleyball team, the Burris Owls, attending every game and quickly becoming engrossed in the team’s progress. They wrote the documentary’s narrative, shot the video, produced audio, and composed music. They researched Title IX.

Perhaps most important, they assessed and found solutions to the challenges that popped up along the way, for example: “Rounding the corner, I found that the ever-resourceful Blake was in the process of building a teleprompter. Yes, folks. Building. A teleprompter.” This is an excerpt from an entry by McBride on the project’s blog, dated November 28, 2007.

McBride continues, explaining “…one of the best things about this semester for me is watching the students identify what they need, think through the problem, and then find ways to create solutions.”

Megan Veit, a double public relations and magazine journalism major, interviewed one of the most prominent women’s basketball coaches in the nation, Pat Summitt of the University of Tennessee. Veit says she was excited yet intimidated before the interview.

“We had one shot at getting the information, so I could not mess this up,” Veit says. “But once we sat down, instinct just kicked in.”

Participating in this immersive learning project gave these students the confidence to become champions in their fields, take on the challenge of fields with which they had no experience, work in a collaborative, supportive group, and become an integral part of a community.

“This was a part of the Burris community’s history, and now we are a part of that history,” Veit says. “Immersive learning attaches you to so much more than your education. You learn how to really be a citizen of a community.”

The film also investigates and addresses issues of gender, sexualization, and the marginalization of certain sports in an environment where teams compete for funding, recognition, and respect from the community. The class worked with Burris Laboratory School and the Indiana High School Athletic Association.

Related Links:

College of Communications, Information, and Media

College of Sciences and Humanities

Department of English

Department of Journalism

Department of Telecommunications

Immersive Learning

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Journalism, magazine sequence

Public Relations

Virginia B. Ball Center for Inquiry