Jacob LaPlante ’17 reflects on his World Cup experience, six-week work trip to Russia
The animator for NBC Sports Group and avid soccer fan called his time abroad “a dream come true,” enjoying the globe’s most celebrated soccer tournament up close.
With the conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup competition, so too ends Jacob LaPlante’s time in Russia.
The Elon University graduate turned animator/designer for NBC Sports Group spent 46 days working abroad, supporting Telemundo’s first-ever World Cup broadcast.
Because Telemundo is owned by NBC Universal, employees with NBC Sports and NBC Olympics – like LaPlante – were tasked with ensuring that the 64-match tournament was produced seamlessly on the American Spanish-language network.
Working in conjunction with design agency Big Block, LaPlante was one of eight designers planning and ultimately designing the motion graphics and branding package for Telemundo’s “Copa Mundial De La Fifa,” the Spanish broadcast for the World Cup in the United States. Fortuitously, LaPlante – an avid soccer fan – was one of two designers selected to work on-site in Moscow during World Cup play.
“While we were in Russia, our job was to make sure everything we had already designed worked ... and to make sure the elements looked like they were supposed to,” LaPlante said. “From there, we took any additional special requests from producers and directors during the tournament and turned them around for air. But most of the hard work was done before we even set foot in Moscow.”
However, that doesn’t mean the Elon graduate’s workload was light.
“Forty-six days is a long time to be in a foreign country – especially when you’re working every day for 12-plus hours a day,” he noted. “That said, just being there was a dream come true.”
Although his Moscow-based office wasn’t located near the soccer facilities, LaPlante explained that the exhilaration surrounding the tournament could easily be felt at the International Broadcast Center (IBC). The facility featured networks broadcasting to more 200-plus territories around the world, which highlights the magnitude of the celebrated soccer tournament.
“The World Cup is a huge deal in a lot of the world and you could feel that at the IBC,” LaPlante said.
LaPlante reveled in the experience because the excitement surrounding the World Cup was palpable everywhere he went.
“Just walking around the streets of Moscow had incredible energy,” he said. “You had fans from 32 different countries representing and supporting their countries in the streets around Red Square and the Kremlin. That’s something you can’t get any other soccer tournament in the world, and to see that and to experience that was special.”
LaPlante attended two matches as a fan, watching Senegal prevail over Poland in the group stage and England defeat Colombia on penalty kicks in the Round of 16. While there was certainly competitiveness on the pitch, the Elon graduate noted that the fan bases were quite congenial with one another.
“You could tell that fans were happy to be there whether their country won or lost,” he said. “Everyone wanted a photo with anyone from another country. You had fans from Poland asking to take photos with the fans of Senegal and vice-versa. That was pretty extraordinary to witness. At the World Cup, politics disappear. It’s all about celebrating the game.”
In the year since his Elon graduation, LaPlante has already compiled an impressive portfolio of work. Just a few months before his Russian experience, he assisted with the production of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics and the Paralympics – albeit he was stationed at the network’s Connecticut offices.
“I can say that working with NBC on two of the largest sporting events in the world has been a dream come true for me and I couldn’t have ever imagined it at this point last year,” said the former Elon News Network staff member. “Though being in Stamford for the Olympics was special, it can’t compare to being in Moscow for the World Cup!”