Former UVa lacrosse star, Jalbert, now a filmmaker, creates open for ESPN’s lax championship

Teammate. Band of Brothers. Common Goal. Teamwork. Trust. Respect.

These are the common sentiments that Jay Jalbert of Jalbert Productions International (@jalbertfilms) captured throughout the open to ESPN’s 2014 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship coverage.

A former University of Virginia All-American men’s lacrosse player, Jalbert was able to encapsulate the sport through the promos and opens on ESPN networks this month.

First-round action begins this Saturday and Sunday with the top two seeds in the championship – No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Syracuse – taking to the field Sunday on ESPNU at 5:15 p.m. ET and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

“When producer John Kettering and content associate Robin Segreti came to me with the idea for a tease, selecting Jay Jalbert was an easy decision,” said John Vassallo, ESPN senior coordinating producer. “His film-making talent along with his understanding of the game made it obvious who we should partner with on a project like this.”

Former University of Virginia All-American lacrosse player Jay Jalbert produced the open for ESPN's NCAA Championship coverage. (Photo courtesy UVA Athletics)
Former University of Virginia All-American lacrosse player Jay Jalbert (10) produced the open for ESPN’s NCAA Championship coverage.
(Photo courtesy UVA Athletics)

Jalbert tells Front Row how he became involved in the project:

How did the opportunity present itself to help ESPN with its championship features?
John Vassallo asked if I would be interested creating and producing the promo/tease elements for the NCAA Lacrosse Championship. I have been working in the sports television and film business since I was a boy, as I used to carry tripods and batteries for my dad’s cameraman. [Jay’s father Joe was an Olympic downhill skier, a member of the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame and a filmmaker.] I started officially working in sports production for the family business during the summers when I was in college. As I progressed within the company, I took a special liking to video and commercial production from concept to completion.

What was it like working on a project that involved your alma mater?
I worked on a show for Virginia Lacrosse called There & Back [that focused] on the 2012 Virginia Lacrosse team that aired on ESPNU. Both projects are very special to me, it brought back a lot of fun memories from playing college lacrosse and it was great to spend time with Coach Dom Starsia. In addition to working with UVA, I was excited for the opportunity to help generate new excitement and showcase the sport of lacrosse and its players in a positive way.

Do you remember anything from ESPN’s coverage of the 1999 semifinals and final that stands out?
I remember doing some interviews with ESPN the years I went to championship weekend. I also remember Terry Brady, a family friend and current ESPN director for remote productions operations, was there working. He used to work with my dad back in the day and has remained a close family friend.

How has ESPN’s coverage changed since you played college lacrosse?
Where do I begin? I think quantity is the first thing that jumps out. There were very few regular season games on TV when I was playing. Then, of course, the quality of production is very impressive for an emerging sport like lacrosse and ESPN’s coverage of lacrosse has kept on par with mainstream sports. The first time I saw the Skycam at the championship weekend, I was blown away.

Is the added exposure on ESPN networks good for the game?
I think ESPN has stood by lacrosse and been a key factor in the growth of the game over the last several years. I believe lacrosse fans owe a lot to the decision makers at ESPN that pushed for the expanded coverage. For myself and Jalbert Productions, we were thrilled at the opportunity this year to try and do the same. We wanted to create an inspiring campaign and video content celebrating “brotherhood and teamwork” that would hopefully help generate additional excitement and support for our sport during the most anticipated part of the year.

See Jalbert in action from ESPN’s lacrosse coverage in 1999:

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