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In the YouTube age, sports fame can endure

A brave new media world means that a buzzer-beating shot, a phenomenal catch or an act of kindness can live on. Just ask Jordan Snipes, Edwin Baptiste or Mallory Holtman.

August 17, 2013|By Diane Pucin

They weren't looking for fame.

When Brian Collins, a Ball State freshman doing a little college telecast, lost his place, lost his head, lost his thought process and said, "Boom goes the dynamite" during an Indiana Pacers clip in 2005, he had no idea it would become a YouTube sensation, get more than a million hits and cost him dates.

When Mallory Holtman and teammate Liz Wallace of Central Washington carried Western Oregon's Sara Tucholsky around the bases after she tore an anterior cruciate ligament rounding first base during a home run trot, Holtman never expected to be on a billboard for an insurance company's "Responsibility Project."

"We were on the Ellen DeGeneres show ... it was just weird," Holtman said. "The thing exploded. There were even parodies on YouTube. There's a Facebook page for fans of me. That's kind of humbling."

It's a new media world. People, and athletes, who never expected to be famous, who just did what came naturally — babbled incoherently because they were inexperienced freshmen; picked up an injured opponent — become suddenly famous for a minute, a day, a week, maybe a month.

Jordan Snipes of tiny Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw by Randolph-Macon in an NCAA Division II game in 2005 and won the game with a length-of-the-court shot with 0.6 of a second left.

"My YouTube still gets hits," Snipes says with surprise.

"I didn't see the video until a couple of weeks later when a friend told me about it. I still get calls and stuff from people who say, 'I saw you.' Or I'll meet someone and they'll say, 'You're the YouTube guy.' All I can think is 'Wow.' I mean, I guess it was a big deal. But that was in 2005. That was a long time ago.

Snipes, 28, still lives in Greensboro and works for R.J. Reynolds. He had knee surgery. "I was goofing around," he said. "I couldn't make a free throw now." But he had his moment. "And I'll be able to show my grandkids," he said. "That's kind of cool."

Not all the greatest sports hits on YouTube are heartwarming.

There was the soccer clip in which Elizabeth Lambert of New Mexico was captured pulling Brigham Young's Kassidy Shumway to the ground by the ponytail. Lambert is also caught on video throwing elbows and purposely colliding with players. She did not return calls or emails but the video still gets hits. Just not the kind she gave.

After the game, and after the clips caused a YouTube sensation, Lambert said in a statement, "I let my emotions get the best of me in a heated situation."

It was probably the most attention ever received by a Mountain West women's soccer game. But, Lambert was asked, is any publicity good publicity? "No," she said.

If you ever have free time, check out the baseball catch made by Lower Columbia College's Derrick Salberg. His whole body practically went over the fence.

"I'm not a YouTube guy at all," said Salberg, 21, a junior who is now at Central Florida.

"It seems like way too many people in my hometown recognize me from YouTube, just from that catch. OK, I'm a 6-foot guy who won a game with that catch. The tying run was at the plate, two outs, I thought the ball was gone.

"But, geez, I see the hits on YouTube, close to a million, and wonder what people are doing with their time if they can look at that.

"I'm a small-town Washington guy. I never expected, ever, to be famous for anything. Not even for a minute."

Neither did Edwin Baptiste, a soft-spoken receiver for Morgan State.

Baptiste, 26 now and a high school counselor, made a falling-backward, twisting, leaping catch of a pass for Morgan State that didn't appear on television or any other medium except YouTube.

"About two weeks later, I'm getting calls from friends, acquaintances, relatives, saying I have to go to YouTube," Baptiste said. "When I made the catch I knew it was a little out of the ordinary but nothing like the exposure I got.

"One day, early in the morning I got a call and it was weird. I had to think about it for a minute. What catch was it? Then I looked. OK, it was pretty good. It wasn't even my favorite of my career but something about the way I twisted my body got people's attention.

"So, thank you YouTube. All I did was make a play on third down for my team. And for a minute I became famous. Kind of cool, really. Ten years ago that wouldn't happen for someone at Morgan State."

Collins remains the gold standard of YouTube sports-related clips. And finding him in person is much more difficult than finding him on the Web.

He did an interview on the Comedy Central show "Tosh.O" and admitted he should have done more homework and can't even fathom what made him say, "Boom goes the dynamite."

He said on that show his goofy catchphrase hurts his dating life. Friday he sent an email to The Times requesting that he not be part of this story, that he had left the media business and that, finally, his life had returned to normal.

But there is still a Facebook page devoted to his catchphrase and, as he told "Tosh.O," he has tried to come up with a better signature sentence but couldn't. Plus, YouTube guarantees this: You can go away, leave the media, start a new career. But your words stay forever, even a catchphrase you'd like to forget.

Thanks to YouTube, whether or not Collins wishes otherwise, we'll never forget. Boom goes the dynamite.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

Twitter: @mepucin

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