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SoonerVision/Gaylord Connection

SoonerVision/Gaylord Connection

By Ryan Welton

If you're a fan of all-things Oklahoma Sooners-related, there is a 100 percent chance you've seen SoonerVision at work. Created 26 years ago, SoonerVision is the video production arm of OU Athletics.

They run the video boards for multiple OU sports, but they also produce coaches shows, weekly magazine shows, and press conferences. To top it off, they're responsible for a myriad of on-demand sports video on as well.

And if you're an OU student who wants to work for SoonerVision, there is a 100 percent chance you'll get to know Jared Thomas. He is SoonerVision's coordinating producer and director of media operations and has been full-time since May 2022 when he graduated from Gaylord College with a master's degree in Journalism and Mass Communications with an emphasis in Creative Media Productions. His role at SoonerVision is to hire and schedule student employees.

But let's back up a second. Thomas shared his initial thoughts about Gaylord College before becoming a master's student.

"I was very impressed with Gaylord College, but SoonerVision was the biggest sell for me," he said. Thomas earned his bachelor's degree in Mass Communications, TV, and Film from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

He credits SEMO, as the locals call the university, with encouraging him to pursue a master's.

"I had a professor at SEMO who put that bug in my ear," he said.

The master's bug turned into the teaching itch, and Gaylord College provided Thomas instant opportunity to have an impact -- or at least it did by his second semester in Norman, as a graduate assistant.

Thomas primarily helped with OU Nightly and Sooner Sports Pad and GameDay U. He said he primarily enjoyed helping the students learn how to use their equipment.

"I thought I had a pretty unique GA experience," Thomas said.

And he has loved the impact he's able to have on Gaylord students. Thomas noted how he tries to tailor the SoonerVision experience to each student.

"What do you like? What do you not like?" he said of his approach to identifying student passions.

Thomas grew up not far from OU, in southwest Missouri. If it hadn't been for the COVID-19 pandemic, he might be working for the Springfield Cardinals minor league baseball team. He landed a job with the Redbirds' organization, but the pandemic foiled that.

He came to Gaylord College instead, unsure of what his future path looked like.

"I went in with an open mind and helped faculty, and they accepted me," Thomas said. "I can't remember many times I was told, 'No.'"

He cited several faculty who helped him during his master's program. Ken Fischer was the first person Thomas talked to when he got to OU.

"(Fischer) was very up front and honest, and through my two years, he was very helpful. He kept me involved," Thomas said.

He also paid compliments to the now-retired Lynn Franklin and current OU Nightly adviser Barbara Merckx, who Thomas said does a great job of ensuring high standards are consistently achieved.

And then there's Tony McCoy, who was the manager of what Gaylord College calls 'The Cage.'

"He was a big reason students were able to pursue many different areas, a great resource," Thomas said.

It's exactly what Jared Thomas aspires to be for OU students working at SoonerVision.

"Right now, I really want to see where this position takes me," he said.

"I've really come to enjoy higher education," Thomas said. "I was really happy with my experience at Gaylord and OU as a whole."