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Behind the Content: How Trusting their Instincts Led ESPN Social and ESPN Images to New Heights

“Right place, right time,” ESPN social media manager Reva Labbe Kingsbury says of capturing viral video amid the Orange on-the-field crush after Tennessee's historic SEC football victory over Alabama. Here's a look at the teamwork involved

The day kicked off in Knoxville, Tenn., with colossal college football chaos: College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and SEC Network’s studio shows SEC Nation Presented by Regions and Marty & McGee Presented by Old Trapper were all in town for Alabama at Tennessee. It’s a rivalry also known as “The Third Saturday in October,” and ESPN/SEC Network welcomed hundreds of staffers to shine a light on one of the biggest games of Week 7. A handful of those staffers stayed behind to produce content for ESPN’s various platforms as the college football campaign was approaching its midpoint.

From when the sun rose over the Tennessee River to the seconds ticking down on a historic victory for the Vols, ESPN’s award-winning social team was on site capturing it all. Director of social media Brett Edgerton – a proud Tennessee alum, senior social media manager Annie Dunbar and social media manager, talent + shows Reva Labbe Kingsbury were all at the ready to record a fête for the ages. 

As luck – or skill and experience – would have it, the trio was in perfect position to portray every angle of the postgame party. Labbe Kingsbury’s video went viral across ESPN’s social feeds, as she bobbed and weaved like an SEC running back to share jubilation from players, fans, staff, and even Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel.

“Right place, right time,” Labbe Kingsbury said. “[I] remembered to press the record button and thankful for Tennessee’s clutch internet in the media work room to get it out to the feeds ASAP!”

Dive in deeper with Labbe Kingsbury as she shares her thoughts on how this video came to be.

While ESPN’s social squad was on the field, ESPN senior event photographer Phil Ellsworth decided to hike to the heavens, getting to the top of Neyland Stadium for the fourth quarter. What followed was historic photos of the game-winning field goal fireworks, field storming, and victory festivities.

“I went up at the start of the fourth quarter to get the beautiful sunset that was starting to take shape,” Ellsworth said. “However, I knew Neyland was very difficult to navigate from previous experience. At that point, I made up my mind that I was committed to getting the best shots from up there, no matter the outcome. I positioned myself in front of several Alabama fans so that if Tennessee won, I wouldn’t be completely blocked by fans jumping up to block the shot. I perfected my camera settings and let it fly.” 

By The Numbers – ESPN Social

Spencer T. Jackson and Amanda Brooks produced the video

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