Mitch Modin’s vlogs offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a Division I athlete

Mitch Modin clears the hurdles during the decathlon. The Track and Field Olympic Trials are held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. on July 3, 2016. (Kaylee Domzalski/Emerald)

Ever wonder what a day in the life of a Division I student-athlete looks like? Mitch Modin and his camera can show you.

A decathlete on the Oregon track and field team, Modin has posted video blogs – better known as vlogs – regularly for the past nine months detailing his day-to-day activities. Key elements of his vlogs are footage of him practicing the technical events of the decathlon, such as the hurdles and the pole vault, and filming the Oregon team at meets.

His decathlete background, along with being part of one of the nation’s most prestigious athletic programs, has drawn over 2,000 subscribers representing at least 50 countries to Modin’s channel, who take turns asking about the school and the program.

The idea of the vlogs was born when Modin’s roommate, Olympic hurdler Devon Allen, was recording his first U.S. Olympic Trials experience and convinced Modin, who was also competing in the trials, to do the same.

“It kinda seemed like something fun to do,” Modin said.

Although he initially set a goal to film vlogs for five consecutive days, Modin shelved the project before meeting his goal because he felt he was not producing interesting content. But last summer, Modin’s parents gifted him a Canon T5 DSLR for his birthday, which kickstarted his motivation to produce the vlogs. Since then, filming and editing the vlogs has become Modin’s creativity outlet.

“I really enjoy watching him exercise his hobby,” said Cole Walsh, an Oregon pole vaulter and Modin’s roommate. “He started off filming everything he did. But on our last trip, he only filmed essential parts to move along the narrative, like when he did a little clip of getting his ticket scanned rather than just filming maybe five hours of video and then trying to edit it down into a day. That’s something he’s improved on.”

Ever since Modin started vlogging, his friends have noticed him transform from a shy guy to an outgoing person. Last spring, he took on a leadership role in the team and sported a moustache and a beard that covered the entire perimeter of his face while competing at the NCAA outdoor championships. His enunciation has also improved since the beginning of the vlogs.

Although Modin feels more comfortable in front of a camera now, he still feels self-conscious talking to it in public, especially when people are walking towards him. Till today, he still has not entirely gotten over that feeling, so he chooses to focus on what the camera sees instead of what he sees.

You just gotta get used to it and be that outgoing to not care about what other people think, which is a good way to live life,” Modin said.

Modin graduated with a General Social Sciences degree with a concentration in Applied Economics, Business and Society last winter, but the class that sparked his interest the most was professor Rebecca Force’s video production class in the journalism school. Despite not having the prerequisites, he emailed Force with his portfolio and begged her to let him into the class.

Taking the class made Modin realize that the journalism major would have been a good fit for him, particularly video production since his camera is always by his side. His recent vlogs have evolved to include more cinematic shots and cleaner transitions between his daily events to make for a smoother narrative.

Now that Modin is done with college, he has used the extra time freed up from classes to create more engaging content. Besides letting his teammates take over his camera sometimes, Modin also collaborated with Allen, who signed a professional contract with Nike last month, to showcase his shipment of Nike gear.

“Mitch wasn’t going to be home for another six hours, and I was like, ‘You know what, Mitch will probably want to put this on the vlog. I’m just gonna leave it and do the unboxing with him.’ And he was super excited about it,” Allen said.

Although Allen and Walsh have not noticed him do anything particularly wild while filming his vlogs, one thing that scares them is Modin talking to his camera while biking.

“He puts his camera on his bike and he’ll try to ride no-handed just to talk to the camera,” Allen said. “Not that it’s super hard, but it’s a little dangerous. He got Ashton Eaton in one of his earlier vlogs while riding our bikes. I was behind him when he took his hand off the bike to turn the camera. He almost fell.”

Another highlight of Modin’s vlogs is Chloe, his 1-year-old Yorkie-Pomeranian-Papillon mixed dog. Besides Modin, Chloe is the second-most featured being on the vlogs.

“She’s just always smiling,” Modin said. “Well, she can’t really smile, but she can bounce around and be happy all the time.”

Though Allen acknowledges that Chloe is a hit, he envies how she is featured more often than him even though he tries to get included in the vlogs by taking the camera and filming cool shots. Allen’s takeovers, however, have only been included a handful of times while Chloe appears in almost every video.

Modin’s growing online presence has already led to fans recognizing him on the streets. As he was traveling to the Florida Relays, he met three fans at the Portland airport and included them in his vlog.

“It’s kinda sick that people watch the videos,” Modin said.

He ranks among the top million YouTube personalities, but his friends believe that he has what it takes to become a YouTube star.

“He’s the only person out there who’s really letting you look through this window into the life of a NCAA athlete,” Walsh said. “He really understands what we go through each day. That’s a unique element that no other channel has.”

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