School of Journalism and Graphic Communication journalism students Jonathan David and Tristian Hutton, along with SJGC graduates Breché DaValt and Aliya Chanté Everett, have won the Coca-Cola HBCU Sports Production Grant for their film, “Defy the Odds”. The filmmakers accepted the award during the 44th Sports Emmy® Awards ceremony on Monday, May 22, 2023 at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.
The Foundation of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), in partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, created the $40,000 grant. It is awarded to Historically Black College or University students enrolled in their school’s journalism or media production program with a focus in sports broadcasting. Coca-Cola’s Senior Manager of Colleges and Universities and FAMU alumnus Michael Braxton, along with ESPN Sports Anchor Elle Duncan, announced the winner of the grant during the award ceremony.
“Defy the Odds wasn’t just a film about numbers or how difficult it is to make it to the NFL coming from an HBCU,” said filmmaker and SJGC journalism student Jonathan David. “It was a metaphor for equal opportunity and how everyday at HBCUs we work to defy those numbers—not just on the field, but in life.”
The film covers the challenges of making it to the NFL while competing at an HBCU. With wide receiver Xavier Smith and linebacker Isaiah Land ranked in NCAA’s Top 10 HBCU poll, the Rattlers looked to have a player drafted for the first time in 10 years. Smith and Land went on sign with the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys, respectively. FAMU alumna and ESPN play-by-play commentator Tiffany Green and FAMU head football coach Willie Simmons were featured in the film.
Learn more about the Coca-Cola HBCU Sports Productions Grant here.