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The Season 2018: The Greater Story & Impact

Coming off The Season 2018, we sat down with the main man behind it all – videographer and producer Jason Johnson – for his take on top-ranked programs Duke, UNC, Syracuse and Ohio State. We wanted to know what it was like to get up-close-and-personal with some of the best coaches and players in the game. Here’s what he had to say:

There are so many sports documentaries out there – what made The Season unique and why did you want to be a part of it?

I’ve done dozens of projects like this for single teams with the NFL and NBA. This was unique and exciting for me because I had to consider, “How do we do this – cover fall ball, games, travel, championships, everything – for four teams simultaneously, spread across the country?”

What really drew me to The Season was diving into the lacrosse world for the first time. Nothing like this had ever been done on this scale for lacrosse – the number of teams, the level of the teams and the depth of coverage. It was a great vision by Inside Lacrosse and STX and a huge step for the sport.

 

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What are you most proud of from the final product?

I’m always drawn to the authentic stories that emerge – the ones you can’t plan or manufacture, but that end up defining the project. The Season is so much bigger than the sport. Lacrosse was really the backdrop for telling personal stories of defeat, struggle, triumph and family.

Something else that was neat – we had a lot of engagement online from coaches who watched the series and learned from the techniques of Joe Breschi, Nick Myers, John Danowski and John Desko. That was something we didn’t expect, but it was awesome to see the series have a real, practical impact on the growth of the sport in other areas.

 

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Player Perspective: Justin Guterding, Duke Alum

Being a part of The Season 2018 was something I’ll never forget. For the first time, players, fans and coaches from all over were able to take an inside look at these programs and see us for who we really are – not just as lacrosse players, but as men and as family. 

Looking back, what were some of the coolest moments and stories for you to tell?

One of my favorites was Justin Guterding at Duke. I remember our first interview with him – he was talking about how their senior class had never made it to the Final Four and what it would mean to make it in their final season. Flash forward to the spring and he’s staying hours after practice to hone his technique. He’s an amazing player, but what I loved most about his journey was the tireless effort and strong leadership he displayed. He didn’t just talk about making it to the Final Four – he did everything he could to make sure his team got there.

The Thumbs Up Game was a really emotional story to tell. If you know the story, Coach Breschi’s son Michael tragically passed away while he was away at Ohio State. Every year, the two historic rivals (UNC and Ohio State) come together for a fall scrimmage to honor Michael’s memory. This year, the mic went out as the Calvert Hall coach was talking to the crowd about Michael and the meaning behind the game. Determined to finish, he ended up shouting the story to the crowd – I still get goosebumps thinking about it. It was an honor to get to tell Coach Breschi’s story and show how this game has become such a defining part of both the UNC and Ohio programs.

Another cool story was Ryan Simmons at Syracuse. Outside the Carrier Dome is a statue of his grandfather who literally started the lacrosse program at Syracuse. Ryan scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Army. Afterward, he looked up and gave his grandfather a wave. What a cool family legacy.

Brendan Bomberry at Syracuse and Anish Shroff at ESPN were two of my favorites as well. Like I said, those are the stories that you can’t plan for, but end up making the experience.

Player Perspective: Justin Guterding, Duke Alum

My favorite part of The Season had to be learning about other programs – their traditions and thinking, and the other players and coaches. I gained a lot of respect for them. At the same time, it reminded me how grateful I am to have played at Duke and how lucky I’ve been in my lacrosse career to get to play alongside the guys I have and to have had such incredible mentors and coaches. 

You followed these teams through some really emotional times – how did it feel to have a front-row seat to those moments?

It was very powerful. We felt very privileged that the teams trusted us to be there for those moments. It's difficult to be in the locker room after a team suffers a tough defeat, but at the same time, you know that might be a turning point to a later victory.

Ohio State had a tough loss to Denver early in the season. After the game, Coach Myers called all the guys together and gave one of the most real and powerful speeches I’ve ever heard. He challenged them and told them they had a decision to make. The guys took it to heart, doubled down on their work and won the next string of games, eventually carrying them into the Big Ten Tournament.

Player Perspective: Justin Guterding, Duke Alum

Having a camera following the team through our ups and downs was really unique. I think it’s significant for young fans and others to see how we respond when things don’t go our way. It’s important to learn at a young age that not everything is going to go your way, but that it’s on you to pick yourself back up and work hard to improve for next time. 

What do you hope people take away from this series?

It’s one thing to watch a lacrosse game on TV – it’s another thing to know where those teams came from, why they do what they do and why they even play the game. Hopefully people understand a little more about who these teams are and feel a little like they’re part of the family too.

Catch all the episodes of The Season + exclusive bonus content at theseason2018.com.