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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Return of the summer bucket list
Opinion | Return of the summer bucket list
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • May 28, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Pitt track and field’s Sam Otis uses creativity to pursue film degree

Senior+Sam+Otis+runs+during+the+XC+ACC+Championships+in+October+2021.
Image via Pitt Athletics
Senior Sam Otis runs during the XC ACC Championships in October 2021.

Senior film major Sam Otis, a track and field student-athlete, is proof that managing a track and field schedule on top of studying for a degree in film is possible. Along with a certificate in Television and Broadcast Arts, Otis displays how Pitt offers opportunities for student-athletes to pursue majors involving arts and entertainment despite the rigorous athletic schedules.

Despite his involvement in track and field, Otis is very involved with his major. Otis says he has a passion for film, a passion for the balance between athletics and academics and how filmmaking has had a positive impact on his athletic career. Otis explained that he originally wasn’t pursuing a degree in the arts. Yet, once he began taking classes that sparked his interest, he fell in love with film. 

“I was actually a business major my first two years,” Otis said. “I just really didn’t like the classes. Then, I decided to take some broadcast and film classes. My first class was in the fall of my sophomore year.” 

He described that he had a conversation with Kevin Smith, a film and media studies professor who also founded the broadcasting program at Pitt. This conversation sparked a switch in his major, and it encouraged him to pursue film and broadcasting. 

“I had a conversation with Kevin,” Otis said. “And [I] was like, ‘Why don’t I start taking classes where I can work with people, be creative, and do things I actually like to do?’ That’s what switched it for me. I was like, ‘OK, this semester I’m going to take more broadcasts and film classes.’ I just liked it a lot more than my business classes, and I decided to switch over.” 

After becoming a film major, Otis said time management is a key aspect of the balance between athletics and filmmaking. Sitting down each week and planning the work he needs to do is important for his success in the classroom and on the track. 

“I think a lot of it is setting up my weeks,” Otis said. “I sit down and think, ‘Do I have practices this week? Are we traveling for races? What are my workouts?’ And once I have my schedule down, I’ll fill in. Okay, this is the time I can work on a [film] project. For example, on Saturdays and Sundays, I can sit down and do homework or even on Friday nights, when we’re not traveling.” 

Otis talked about his favorite aspects of being a film major and what he finds most enjoyable. He enjoys working collaboratively with his peers on projects and having film become a creative outlet to express his ideas. 

“Just being able to be creative and work in a way that you can express things and try to have people feel things from your work is really cool,” Otis said. “And also, just working with people. I love working with people. Obviously, I’m on a sports team. I love teamwork, I love bouncing ideas off of people and hearing new ideas.”

The teamwork and camaraderie, according to Otis, translate well between athletics and his film major. 

“Being a film major, all of my classes, you’re working with people,” Otis said. “You’re coming up with new ideas, you’re talking to people going over ideas, you’re also helping them with their work too. I really enjoy that. With a lot of other majors or a lot of other classes you’re going to take, you aren’t necessarily going to get that. But with film and broadcast, every single class you are going to get is super cool.”

Otis believes that working collaboratively in the classroom has had a positive impact on his athletic career at Pitt. 

“Just being outside of sports, being able to work with people who are all different and have all different ideas really helps,” Otis said. “When I go into the locker room, I understand that everyone’s sometimes not on the same page and everyone has different ideas, and you have to respect those ideas. Whether it’s going over film, going over training, practice or how to go about a race, everyone is going to be thinking differently. When you do that both at practice and in your sport, but also in your work and in your school, I think it’s a positive correlation.” 

As a senior, Otis is preparing for a capstone documentary needed to complete his major. Otis is excited to implement some aspects of track and field into his documentary. 

“Right now I’m working on a capsule documentary,” Otis said. “The documentary is on track and field, but it’s about a teammate of mine who’s chasing after some school records. It’s following his season. I’m filming workouts, his prep outside of running and then finally his races. I’m really excited about it.” 

 

About the Contributor
Lily Peters, Staff Writer
Lily Peters is a sports staff writer for The Pitt News. She is a part of the College of General Studies class of 2027 and is majoring in Media and Professional Communications. Additionally, she is pursuing a certificate in Television and Broadcast Arts.