Beyond the Diamond: TCU student documentary examines sports – and life

Beyond the Diamond

Sometimes a game is more than a game. Hence, the setting for Beyond the Diamond. The documentary, created by a group of Texas Christian University film students, takes viewers beyond the balls and strikes, past the home runs and exciting catches, and into the personal lives of three professional baseball players and their families, each with a very young child — Cody Allen, wife Mallory, and son Cason; Logan Bawcom, wife Jordan, and daughter Nayvie; and Logan Verrett, wife Erin, and son Levi.

“The message behind the documentary was to highlight the importance of family and friendship in professional sports,” said TCU junior film student Trent Attyah, the film’s producer. “This is a topic in sports that no one ever stops to think about The brave women who marry professional athletes sacrifice so much to support their husband and help him accomplish his dream, and I wanted to highlight that the best way possible.”

Allen, a pitcher, was with the Cleveland Indians seven years and recently signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. He owns the Indians’ record for career saves with 149, including a career high of 34 in 2015.

He and Mallory met in 2014 through mutual friends and have been married three years. The Allens live in Texas during the baseball offseason.

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The Bawcoms met on Facebook in February 2012. They married in December 2014. Bawcom, a relief pitcher, was born in Lubbock and played for the University of Texas at Arlington. Due to his baseball career, they have moved eight times around the country, from Rancho Cucamonga to Nashville as he hopes to make it to the major leagues.

The Verretts met in their sophomore year at Baylor University. Their first date was at On the Border before a Baylor football game and Erin paid because she had a gift card. They have been married for six years.

They moved to South Korea last year when Logan, a pitcher, signed to play there. They are unsure where they will be next season, but are open to playing in South Korea again. They spend their offseasons in Colleyville.

TCU adjunct professor Charity Robinson, who teaches the film class, is friends with Erin Verrett and presented the idea, Attyah said. The documentary was part of a class within the school of Sports Broadcasting called sports documentary production.

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“On the first day of class, Mrs. Robinson told us we will be making a documentary about three baseball players, and that was all the information that was given,” Attyah said. “When she announced the film was about baseball, I knew immediately I wanted to take the lead role in producing it since I have played baseball all my life.

“Believe it or not, before Beyond the Diamond I had zero experience as a filmmaker. I have never made or been a part of a production for a film that was any longer than two or three minutes. I knew I would have my hands full with being the producer, but I was looking to challenge myself and do something I haven’t done before. The opportunity presented itself and I never looked back.”

As lead producer, Attyah conducted all aspects of production and held each team member accountable for his or her specific job.

“I also got to drive four hours to interview Ruth Ryan [wife of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan] for her role in the film, which was a great experience,” he said. “One hundred and fifty hours worth of editing as a collaborative team is a rough estimate on the time it took to piece everything together. That’s not including shooting the footage, writing the script, transcribing interviews and marketing the product.”

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The class also consisted of 13 other students who made major contributions to the film. There were five groups working on their specific jobs — editors, script writers, camera operators, media/marketers and producers. Claire Lagging, a senior TCU sports broadcasting major, was Attyah’s assistant producer, and he said she “played a huge role.”

Junior Reggie Cole and Brittney Cech, who has since graduated and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film, were also student producers on the project.

Also working on the project were:

*Senior Nick Cieslukowsi, camera.

*Junior Lindsay Tomaini, camera.

*Kelli Konzen, camera

*Junior Michael Smart, research/writing.

*Junior Lindsay Follis, research/writing.

*Senior Nick Friedler, lead editor.

*Senior Chase Cameron, music.

*Senior Chris Bollig, assistant editor.

*Junior Riane Cleveland, marketing.

*Senior, Austin Leath, marketing.

The documentary had its premiere on Jan. 23 at TCU. It is now being prepared to go on the festival circuit and cannot be aired for the public again until the circuit is over, Attyah said. Once that is completed, he said, a link will be posted to the film across all social media platforms.

It has been submitted to seven film festivals — Fort Worth Indie Showcase, Thin Line in Denton, Newport Beach in California, Dallas Independent Film Festival, Dallas Docufest, Hill Country in Fredericksburg and Deep in the Heart in Waco.

Attyah said they will find out in late March whether has been accepted and by who.

Allen said he was “blown away” after he saw the final product, adding that the TCU students “did a great job telling our story.”

Bawcom said the best part of the film is that it “focuses on the more important things in our lives, rather than just baseball.”

Verrett said the production is something he and his family can cherish forever. “I can’t wait to show our son Levi when he is older,” he said.

“I love teaching this class because I have the opportunity each semester to watch students grow and mature throughout the process of creating a documentary film,” Robinson said. “We were fortunate to have a cast that welcomed the student filmmakers into their lives and allowed them to really tell the story of what happens behind the scenes of the ‘baseball life.’

“The production team did an outstanding job of shining a light on both the advantages and the hardships that co-exist in the lives of professional athletes, and how they lean on their families and each other for support.”

Attyah said he loved the class and making the production so much that he has enrolled in the non-sports documentary production class for this semester. Instead of making one large documentary, they will focus on making several short ones.

“I hope to continue making films post-graduation and pursue my dream of working for a big-name network or streaming service like Netflix or Hulu,” he said.

“Over the last year and a half, I will have completed internships with Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Rattlers, and now produced a documentary. I have my hands full trying to graduate from school, but hope to keep making films in the future.”

Attyah added an update on the families: all three wives are pregnant again. And with Allen joining the Angels, the couple have bought a house no more than five minutes from Attyah’s home in Newport Beach.

“His wife and I exchanged phone numbers to put them in contact with babysitters when they officially make the move,” Attyah said. “They plan to meet with me when they move out there about hiring caretakers for their children since I have several friends who babysit in their free time. The world is so small sometimes.”