Webster University Communications Alum Documents Championship in Role with Stanley Cup-Winning Blues

Jul. 8, 2019

Communications Alum Documents Stanley Cup-Winning Blues
Webster alumnus Austin Ratanasitee with the Stanley Cup.

For many St. Louisans, June 12, 2019, will forever be etched in memory as the day the St. Louis Blues hockey team and their fans ended a 52-year wait for their first NHL Stanley Cup championship. Webster University alumnus Austin Ratanasitee was there to help document it all in his role as video and digital content producer for Blue Note Productions.

He gained hands-on experience for the role as an undergraduate and graduate student at Webster, where Ratanasitee was an integral part of Webster Athletics' digital media efforts, including live streaming of games, taking photos, creating graphics and social media.

The Blues' championship was improbable nearly six months earlier: On Jan. 3, 2019, the Blues were in last place among the 31 teams in the NHL standings, so their victory represents an unprecedented journey from worst to first in half a season. Something unheard today of in the realm of professional sports.

Behind the Scenes for the Stanley Cup

Ratanasitee was standing behind the scenes in a hallway just outside the arena floor at TD Garden in Boston as Game 7 concluded, capturing all the celebration of the Blues winning their first Stanley Cup.

"It was really cool being there in the arena for Game 7, all this media, all this attention and I'll be honest with you, I only watched about half the game from press row," Ratanasitee said. "I was standing the whole time and the moment we actually won Game 7, I was in a hallway downstairs near the arena floor editing footage that was being sent to me by my boss, who was on the ice shooting the festivities. I didn't get to see us win live, but I watched it as I was editing the video."

Ratanasitee, who worked the past two years (2017-19) as a graduate assistant handling digital media for Webster Athletics, along with working with the Blues, earned his Bachelor of Arts in Video Production from Webster in 2017 and then earned his MBA from Webster in May of 2019.

In his role with the Blues, Ratanasitee, who began his time with the Blues as an intern in 2017, before becoming a full-time employee in 2018, films the locker room, makes "pump up" videos for in-game video boards and during the games, he serves as a producer for the intermission and pregame shows, along with his colleague, Ashali Vise.

Getting Started at Webster

Just five years in Fall of 2014, Ratanasitee was an incoming freshman and graduate of Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights, Missouri. He was looking for a job on-campus when Larry Baden, an associate professor in Webster's School of Communications, helped arrange a meeting with Andrew Belsky, who is Webster's head golf coach and webmaster for Webster Athletics' website.

That chance meeting with Belsky led to a five-year marriage between Ratanasitee and Webster Athletics. With Webster Athletics, Ratanasitee was involved with the athletic department's digital media efforts, including live streaming of games, taking photos, creating graphics for the athletics website and social media outlets and was involved in creating and uploading content to the department's social media channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

"From the minute Austin began working for us, you could tell he was a naturally gifted, creative and talented individual and was going to be a star in digital media," Belsky said.

After working as a work study student in athletics for three years as an undergraduate, Webster Director of Athletics Scott Kilgallon was able to create a graduate assistant position for digital media in athletics so Ratanasitee could earn his MBA while also continuing to help out Webster Athletics.

"When I think about my time at Webster, the athletics part of it was probably the most impactful," Ratanasitee said. "Not to dock the education part of it, but working in the athletics department got me used to being around a team environment. The scheduling, working on weekends and holidays all the time was an invaluable experience. Working with current Webster Sports Information Director Ben Greenberg, [his predecessor] Niel DeVasto and Andrew Belsky helped me get an understanding on the ropes of how sports media works."

Along with working with Webster Athletics, Ratanasitee also assisted with the USA Women's Soccer Team during the summer months doing digital media content.

'Surreal, Stunning, Amazing'

But back to Game 7 in Boston and the Blues winning the Stanley Cup. What was it like for Ratanasitee to share in this moment that was so important to so many players, fans and fellow employees?

"It was surreal, stunning and amazing. Honestly, the day before Game 6, I was editing some video footage and it kind of hit me at 9 a.m. in the morning. Oh my gosh, we're in the Stanley Cup Final and we could possibly win the Stanley Cup, given where we were, it was just a very surreal feeling," Ratanasitee added. "What an incredible feeling to work for a sports team, but another to work here for your hometown sports team. To be there with the team during the season they had, the trials, the ups-and-downs and to eventually be champions is very surreal."

Ratanasitee says that working with Blues has been a tremendous experience and he's grateful for the opportunity.

"I'm extremely grateful to be here with the Blues. I've met some incredibly talented and great people here that I've learned from and it is just been a great feeling to work with this organization and the people associated with it," Ratanasitee added.

Summer of Stanley

Since the Blues won the Stanley Cup, Ratanasitee and his co-workers in the digital media department haven't slowed down putting out content, but this time that content is celebrating a historic achievement – the Stanley Cup.

"We've been staying busy and our summer will be short since we played into mid-June," Ratanasitee said. "The timeline has been – we won the Cup, had the parade, the next week was the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, right after that was the NHL Draft in Vancouver, Canada and then we had the Prospect Camp at the Enterprise Center. We've had all those events leading up to now and after that, the Cup will go on its tour as the team will have their day with the Cup. The Cup Tour will start in Canada with (head) coach Craig Berube. We are going to send some folks to Canada to follow the Cup and capture those stories from July into August."

It's been an incredible turnaround for the team, one few could envision back when they were in last place on Jan. 3.

"As we started winning, our job became a lot easier," said Ratanasitee. "Back when we didn't have a good record, it was harder to come up with story lines and put positive spin to it. But once we began to win, the job and the content we produced began to be seen by more and more people that led to us having an increase in clicks and shares."

Hands-On Experience

Ratanasitee says that his time at Webster really helped him out as he began working with a professional sports team and says that it shows you don't have to come from a large school to succeed; a small-school setting like Webster can help prepare for success at the professional level.

"It is funny, I was actually talking with one of my interns about this recently," he said. "For by BA in video, I was telling her, the experience we had, the hands-on with the equipment, the gear, the smaller class size was very beneficial," said Ratanasitee. "Now taking that knowledge from when I was on sets in school to now when I'm on sets with the Blues. I would say that a lot of what I learned at the School of Communications as an undergraduate has been beneficial to me being a more efficient shooter and also better at directing and producing a show. At Webster, we had this video production class and you have of work every job and it is pretty much that times 10 here with the Blues. That video production class helped me gain a better understanding for everyone and the jobs they do."

Going back 10 years ago, the need to have separate digital media departments was somewhat of a novelty, but today, it is a necessity in the newly created 24-hour news cycle that exists in the world.

So as digital media has grown in dominance, so too as the need to have separate departments devoted to the craft and Ratanasitee says that having your own digital media department helps one control the message they want to put out. Digital media departments just are prevalent at the professional level, but also at the college and now-a-days, even at the high school

"I think the rise of digital media comes down not only to consumer tastes, but also accessibility. Everyone has a phone, everyone has Twitter, Facebook and it's just easier for people and organizations to share their messages than it was 10 years ago," Ratanasitee said. "No longer do sports teams have to rely on TV or ESPN to pick them up. I tell people all the time in production, you should go into sports, as there are a ton of jobs available, because teams are realizing how important it is for them to have their own people sharing and putting out their own messages, which I think it creates efficiency and controls how you get your message out to the fans."

A version of this story originally appeared at Webster Athletics.Visit Webster Athletics to keep up with Webster's sports teams. Visit the School of Communications for information on programs like digital media and video production.

tags:  academics, alumni, home page, school of communications, webster life, webster today,