WRAL-TV featured stories about local connections to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the nightly half-hour Olympic Zone. A story on Thursday, August 5, 2021, hits close to home for Capitol Broadcasting: an interview with Ellie Whittington, social media strategist for the Durham Bulls, who engaged audiences on social media for the 2020 Olympics:
Ellie Whittington is a social media strategist for the Durham Bulls. But NBC hired her engage with its Olympic audience on social media.
Whittington said it’s what she has been working for: The journalism degree from Elon University and the masters in sports management from North Carolina State University.
“It just so happened that I would be graduating in 2020 when the Tokyo Olympics would be happening,” said Whittington.
She applied for a job at NBC Sports to cover the Olympics on social media.
Whittington got the job, only to lose the job, since the Olympics would not be happening that summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was devastating, and honestly, I had some of the lowest lows. I lived with friends. I actually lived out of my car for a week and my parents said, ‘Would you please just take a job? You have to do something,'” Whittington recalled.
She landed a job with the Durham Bulls as a social media strategist.
“I love the game of baseball,” she said. “I think this place is Disney World every time I come to this stadium and it’s an absolute dream to get to do this everyday.”
But the other dream came calling. The Olympics would be played — albeit a year late.
NBC again offered her the job, though COVID-19 restrictions precluded her from going to Tokyo.
“So, I offered to NBC, can I work in Durham [and] still work for the Bulls and cover the Olympics? And they said yes,” said Whittington.
Every night – 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. – she’s on her laptop at home, following the games in real time, posting on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.
In one post, she cut video highlights from men’s gymnastics.
The audience loved it; one user wrote “The team running this account deserves a gold medal!”
“Through social media, I get to excite people and share in this commonality of all of us being sports fans,” said Whittington. “I get to do it every day for the Bulls, and now I feel like it’s for the world.”
Since she’s still working for the Bulls, Whittington says she catches a few hours of sleep after Olympic duties.
“It’s been hard. I think last week, I worked 105 hours combined, so you can imagine every waking moment I was working and I continue to say I’m sprinting a marathon,” said Whittington. “I know this is temporary, but I feel very blessed with the experience.”
Whittington added that she longs to experience being at the Olympics, next.
Whittington said she doesn’t know if she’ll continue to work for NBC Sports following the Olympics, but she plans to have a long career as a sports journalist.
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Bryan Mims & WRALSportsFan for this Capcom story & video.