First-year graduate student Wade Evans started creating videos and stop-motion movies at 7-years-old with a webcam and Legos.
He did it for entertainment, having no idea how far the early stages of content creation would take him.
Evans wanted to pursue an audio engineering career with hopes of doing something in the music industry when coming to Belmont.
But in August 2020, Evans got more involved on campus by taking a work-study job as a production assistant in the athletic department and began working at Belmont basketball games.
From there, Evans knew what he wanted to do in life: he wanted a career in photography and videography.
“When I first came here, I was like, I’m going to be an audio engineering person and I’m going to do music full time as a career, but that completely changed,” he said.
For Evans, the journey of taking photos and creating videos has come full circle. He has recorded and edited video clips for sporting events nearly every day for the past three years.
Receiving his first real camera at 14-years-old, Evans recalls the experience of capturing content through a low-quality lens.
“It was like, the cheapest Canon, used one off eBay. It was like four megapixels, and it must have been no more than $50,” he said.
Evans used the camera to restart the adventure he began as a child.
In high school, Evans secured his first photography gig after his mother volunteered him.
He took class portraits for his classmates and teachers on picture day. He also filmed other important events, including graduation.
But even with an intense interest in photography and videography, Evans still had no desire to go to school for photography. Instead, he began looking for good audio engineering schools. Evans decided on Belmont after hearing about it from a family friend.
“I don’t think at any of the other schools I was looking at, I could have pivoted the way I did here. Just because the size of Belmont was perfect. where there’s room for anybody to try anything that they want,” he said.
When his sophomore year rolled around, Evans switched it up.
He secured an opportunity with the video team for Belmont Athletics at basketball games. The department films the games for ESPN+ and gathers highlight clips for local news stations and social media.
“I was doing camera operation as a student for all our broadcasts,” he said.
The following year he became an official part of the athletics production team as an official intern for the program. He was no longer just someone in the work-study program.
Because of his hard work in 2022, he was invited to go to March Madness with the women’s basketball team.
“Late February came around and I got an email that just said, you’ve been added to the travel manifest if/when men's and/or women's basketball goes to March Madness,” he said.
This gig proved to be a game-changer for Evans.
He was able to capture every important moment in the women’s team’s journey in the tournament, and he could run on the court after the huge win against the University of Oregon, which was the “coolest thing ever,” he said.
The work Evans did was unusual for an intern. Typically, there is more help from the graduate assistants, but Evans made the most of his role.
Focusing on the future
Now, he’s an operations graduate assistant in athletic video production at Belmont. Christian Sadler, the director of athletic video operations, realized early on that he could rely on Evans.
“I could put more on him, and he wanted that. He wanted the feedback,” Sadler said.
Connor Cleary, a fellow graduate assistant with Evans, spoke about Evans' exceptional work, but also his humility.
“He doesn’t talk about (his work) in the frame of himself, he talks about it in the frame of the group,” Cleary said.
When interviewing after graduation for a job in athletics production, he was told to get more experience and create a portfolio that focused more on the athletics side of video production.
Fortunately, Evans had a place he could go to for a few more years of experience. That’s when he decided to become a graduate assistant and continue to work for Sadler.
"We’re building something here, and he continues to be a part of it. He’s somebody I trust. He gets to lead again,” Sadler said.
Because of his dedication to Belmont year after year, Evans received the David Fish award at the Bruin Choice Awards in spring 2022.
“That was directly his hard work and the student athletes seeing him serve in that way felt like that he deserved that,” Sadler said.
Evans did not know he was receiving the award – he thought he was there to film the event.
“I was really grateful that day that they were appreciative of what I was doing,” Evans said.
Even before being a member of the digital production teams, he was a huge supporter of Belmont’s sports.
“We’ll go back and watch the footage and he is in the front row of almost all the basketball games,” Sadler said.
Evans makes it a priority to put effort into his job and uses the program to grow both his personal image and the athletic department’s brand.
But it’s not just the athletes that recognize Evans’ talent, Cleary said.
“He has a very strong work ethic. He knows what needs to be done and he does it,” Cleary said.
With all the great things he is doing for Belmont athletics, paired with his outgoing personality, who knows what’s next for Evans?
Sadler has an idea.
“He’s going to change the world.” This article was written by Maya Burney.