By Maj. Ray Dillman, 3rd Battalion, 290th Regiment, 479th Field Artillery BrigadeJune 25, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Two Division West Soldiers experienced the recent 2012 National Basketball Association's Finals here in a unique way.
Master Sgt. Michael Dustin and Spc. Elizabeth Fowler, Army Reservists with 3rd Battalion, 290th Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, in Mustang, Okla., worked with on-court camera crews during the June 12 and 14 contests between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at the Chesapeake Arena.
The Soldiers were two of three Army Reserve members hired through a partnership between the NBA and the Army Reserve's Employment Partnership Office. Each Soldier was a paid employee of the NBA and began working four days before Game 1.
The Soldiers' work ethic and ability to rapidly understand what the NBA crews needed led to their success as "runners," who maintain cable behind the on-the-court cameramen during the event and assist in the set-up and break-down.
"It was a blast," Fowler said. "We got to see the entire inner workings of a major production -- from bringing in 14 production trailers days before the first game to wrapping up miles of cords immediately following the game. Everyone from Michael Rokosa (a former Sailor and the vice-president of NBA's Operations and Engineering Department) on down couldn't have been more gracious to us."
The crowds at the first game were so loud that her ears were ringing hours after the game, Fowler said. "For the second game, I wore my earplugs."
Fowler and Dustin saw commentators before, during and after live feeds and worked alongside ESPN, ABC and NBA camera crews. They learned about the different feeds each camera was responsible for, such as international, national or local markets.
Prior to the June 14 game, the Soldiers had dinner with EPO Director Erin Thede and Brig. Gen. Michael Smith, representing the Office of the Chief of the Army Reserve, and they learned EPO is working to expand the program to other professional sporting events in the future.
The Soldiers were also interviewed by the Pentagon Channel and the Daily Oklahoman, the Oklahoma City newpaper.