Instagram’s story during 2019 College Football Championships run by UI student

On Jan. 7, UI graduate student Jennifer Fisher took over Instagram’s official account during the 2019 College Football Championships between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers.


Alyson Kuennen

UI sports and rec management student, Jennifer Fisher, poses for a portrait in downtown Iowa City on Monday, February 4, 2019. Fisher was chosen from 100 other applicants across 60 different campuses to run Instagram's official College Football Playoffs account.

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

Jennifer Fisher stood in front of the rope put in place to keep media personnel at a distance as the Alabama football team swarmed the field, thanks to making friends with a security guard. Beneath her was a steam machine. Her legs froze, she could barely see, but she captured footage of the Crimson Tide that no other media had.

Fisher beamed as she recalled the moment she found out she won the Instagram Student Section contest. Will Yoder, part of Instagram’s Sports Partnerships team, called Fisher and told her she would cover the 2019 College Football Championships in Santa Clara, California, with Instagram to take over the official account’s story.

Alyson Kuennen
UI sports and recreation management student, Jennifer Fisher, poses for a portrait in downtown Iowa City on Monday, February 4, 2019. Fisher was chosen from 100 other applicants across 60 different campuses to run Instagram’s official College Football Playoffs account.

Fisher is a University of Iowa sports and recreation-management graduate student, and she earned a bachelor’s in communications from the UI. She wanted to pursue a career that would combine her love for sports and the arts — social media allows her to do that, she said, by covering sporting events in a creative way for an audience.

Fisher began working with the Iowa Athletics Department under Kelsey Laverdiere, the assistant athletics director of marketing, during her time as an undergrad. When Laverdiere heard about Instagram Student Section, she said she knew Fisher was the perfect person for the job.

“Instagram Stories is such a valuable aspect of what we’re doing as well as the most direct way to communicate with fans,” Laverdiere said. “Jen has really taken that over.”

Instagram Student Section began in 2016, a few weeks after Instagram launched Stories, Yoder said. Instagram started working with eight schools, requesting designated students run their university’s Instagram stories on game day.

Today, there are more than 100 students from nearly 70 schools participating during football and basketball seasons, he said. At the end of regular season, one student gets the opportunity to cover the College Football Championships or the March Madness Final Four.

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“Jennifer has been awesome,” Yoder said. “She has always been in our top finalists.”

After working with Iowa athletics and taking over the UI’s Instagram for three-straight seasons, Fisher won. Instagram flew her out to San Francisco and took her on a tour of its headquarters in Menlo Park. She attended media day two days before the big game, Fisher said, where coaches and players interacted with personnel from Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, and more.

“That was my time to sit back and experience it,” she said. “I have participated in media day for all sports here at the UI, but this was next level.”

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On Jan. 7, Fisher and the Instagram team arrived at the stadium seven hours before kickoff to plan for the day. After Clemson’s victory, Fisher pressed “go” on her camera and ran toward the players.

“The celebration was more than I could’ve ever imagined,” she said. “The excitement that was in the stadium was just incredible.”

Fisher and the producers stayed up until 5 a.m. the next day narrowing the footage, choosing which shots to use, and designing each slide with Fisher’s own artistic touch. The most surreal part, she said, was catering to a following of more than 277 million.

“Being in this room of influencers that create this content that are posting for that many people — it was incredible to see their minds at work,” she said. “Instagram treated me as a professional. They’re not treating me as just a student who won this experience. They’re treating me as a part of the team.”

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