June 25, 2024

Alum Marissa Kraus skates to victory with award-winning roller derby documentary

Chloe Patel

The No Coast Junior Derby team fills its practice arena with six-year-old to 18-year-old players twice weekly. Still, for many practices in the Fall 2023 semester, the arena was filled with something else: senior Marissa Kraus and her video equipment.

Sports Journalism Institute 2022 alum Marissa Kraus recently received a first-place Eric Sevareid Award from the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association for her article and a short documentary on Lincoln, Nebraska's junior roller derby team, No Coast Junior Derby.

For her capstone project at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the story initially encompassed multiple of Kraus’ goals and interests: photography, videography, and sports. 

But because Kraus is a journalism major and sports stories were limited to sports media students, “(she) really had to look elsewhere, kind of expand (her) horizons of what (she) could write about, but (she) wanted to do something related to sports.”

With some exploration and research, Kraus found that the National Museum of Roller Skating is located in Lincoln and eventually found the No Coast Junior Derby team that celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023. 

Kraus, who will intern at the Los Angeles Times this summer, knew going into the story that she wanted a visual element. 

“It's such a unique sport, and also something unique with the sport is the people in it too. There's people of all ages that are on the same team. There could be an eight-year-old sitting with a 15-year-old or something. (She) was just really interested in the dynamics of the sport.”

So, she leaned into those dynamics, attending weekly practices that lasted two to three hours to collect footage.

“Emotional connection really takes (a) story to the next level besides just words on a paper,” Kraus. “I really leaned into the characters in the story and a couple of main people that stood out to me to really guide the story along and both in the documentary and the article.

Kraus’ professors introduced her to the idea of submitting her story and corresponding video to competitions and awards, and she spent the break between the fall and spring semesters fine-tuning her work. 

“This was a huge undertaking, both time and planning and, of course, putting it together took a very long time,” Kraus said. “So just to see all that be worth it and be recognized besides just having it published meant a lot to me, and it meant a lot that judges, who I don't even know, also saw potential in it.” 

Kraus graduates from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this Spring and highly recommends getting eyes beyond professors onto work early.

“I definitely encourage other students who are working on similar projects or their own thing to always be seeking out ways to submit their work and to be reviewed by people and [organizations],” Kraus said. “You never know what could come of that.”

Chloe Patel will intern at the Providence Journal this summer.

you might also like