YouTube XC Feature

Abby Gray (left) and Maddy Reed (right) finish the Women’s Collegiate 5k on Oct. 5 at the 2019 Chile Pepper Festival.

A cross country and track runner posts videos showing off her free UA gear and showcasing her life as a student-athlete on her YouTube channel, which has more than 2,000 subscribers as of Dec. 3.

Abby Gray, a senior who is majoring in journalism, has been making YouTube videos for three years, sometimes featuring other student-athletes, especially while traveling to competitions, she said. She was inspired to make her YouTube channel because of a Youtuber and runner in Oregon who runs the 3,000-meter event, Emma Abrahamson, who has over 61,000 subscribers.

Carina Viljoen, a senior, is one of Gray’s teammates and has been watching Gray’s YouTube videos since she started making them, Viljoen said. 

“She’ll film the parts where it’s boring, in our opinions, like at the airport,” Viljoen said. “But bringing a camera to that and showing the inside life of an athlete is interesting even if it’s boring for us. It adds a little fun to the trips.”

Viljoen likes Gray’s videos because they capture the moments they spend together and make dull moments fun when traveling as a team, she said.

“I think it’s a good thing to keep everyone loose and not stressed out for the trip,” Gray said. 

Balancing school work, track and cross country meets and her YouTube channel is difficult to manage, but school always comes first, Gray said.

Gray makes gear haul videos in her home and films on the go at cross country meets. Gray travels to meets every other week during the in-season of cross country, which lasts from August-November.

“It’s pretty hard making videos after I’ve been working on school and traveling, balancing that is a little difficult,” Gray said. 

Gray tries to edit her videos when she is traveling on the plane or the bus, but usually tries to finish her school work first, she said. 

Gray uses a Canon PowerShot G7 X digital camera to film her videos because it is small and easy to film while she is on the go, she said.

Gray’s favorite place that she has traveled to with her team is in Seattle or Palo Alto, California, she said. She posted a video Aug. 22 titled “RUNNING IN EUROPE | paris, rome, barcelona, and more!” in which she traveled to Europe with her family.

Gray realized the reach of her YouTube channel on a 2018 trip to Boulder, Colorado, where she met a fan of her channel while running on a trail with one of her teammates. The interaction with the fan, a freshman in high school, put Gray’s subscriber count in perspective for her, she said. 

“A lot of times, you can look at the view count as a number, but it’s actual people behind the number,” Gray said.

Student-athletes are not eligible to make money off of their publicity, reputation or personal following that was gained because of their athletics, according to Arkansas Athletics. 

However, after Gray graduates, she hopes for her channel to grow enough that she might be able to make money off it, she said.

“I think if I can keep everything up and find my own niche in the audience, I want to try,” Gray said. “Maybe it could turn into something bigger, and I could pursue it then.”

Abby Zimmardi is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where she has been a staff reporter since April 2019.

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