Since day one of the PLL’s inception, the league has always wanted to paint a picture for fans and create access that hadn’t been done before by any other professional sports leagues. They have done a great job at providing an excellent product on the field, but the one thing the league has done differently is providing in-depth access that hasn’t been seen before. Whether it’s the looks inside team huddles, the player interviews, or the videos of fans at the games, the PLL has been able to give fans the ability to feel like they are actually at the game. The weekly PLL vlogs have been a great success for the league and RJ Kaminski is the man who is in charge of bringing the game to fans at home through the weekly vlogs.
Painting a picture through media and storytelling is something the RJ has always wanted to do. His first internship was with WBAL in Baltimore, and his original plan was to be a beat writer or a broadcaster. “That internship led me to realize what a freaking grind being a beat writer is, or even being behind the mic as a broadcaster,” said RJ. “It’s not that I was afraid of that grind, I didn’t feel there was a lot of appreciation in that role, so I wanted to pivot to being on camera.”
After his first internship, RJ knew that he wanted to be on camera and decided to try his hand at news media. RJ’s goal was to be on camera as a anchor or field reporter. He knew that if he could get on camera, he’d be able to tell amazing stories. After a failed first attempt at securing an internship with NBC’s “Meet the Press” RJ didn’t give up. In fact, he tried a different approach the second time around. “Second time I sent in my application I actually pitched to them on a new role, ‘you guys need a social coordinator for this show, here is what that position would do’ and I got the internship.'” RJ had a vision, and the courage to make the longest running news show on TV to start thinking outside the box and find ways to get viewers more involved. “Social media intersects film and TV, and this is where I see myself thriving and where I want to be long term. This realm is always changing and this is my best way to connect with people and story tell.”
RJ’s introduction to lacrosse came at an early age. He grew up in Maryland and went to Boys Latin High School, which is a powerhouse lacrosse program in the Baltimore area. While he was always around lacrosse, he never actually played himself. He really dove head first into lacrosse when his close friend, Tyler Steinhardt, asked him to work with his nonprofit, Shootout for Soldiers, which is a 24 hour lacrosse game that helps support veterans. “Our goal was to raise $10,000 for the first event, administrators at the school thought that was a lofty goal for the first year” RJ told us. “We ended up raising $100,000 that year. [That event] led to further interest for me to work in the sport and use lacrosse as a storytelling medium.”
After the success of Shootout for Soldiers, Steinhardt, who was working at The Lacrosse Network at that time, hired RJ on as a social media manager. Steinhardt knew Kaminski would be successful when he hired him. “With RJ, it was a combination of two things. One, he has this positive, infectious energy. When you’re around him, he’s always smiling. He’s never complaining or down. Number two is the hard work.”
That hard work and infectious personality soon led to Kaminski being on camera and hosting TLN’s “Top 5” video segments. That hard work and dedication is something that Steinhardt has been able to appreciate over the years. “He literally did not edit videos before he came to TLN and now he edits his own videos. Now he’ll be in the office until midnight almost every night of the week. He’s just someone that had the hunger for success that is unmatched and unrivaled.”
During the early rumblings of the PLL coming to furition, RJ knew the league was going to be successful saying, “my first thought was, we could partner with this league at TLN and make some money.” As the league started gathering its staff, Kaminski knew there was a chance he would actually become part of the league itself. “Once they hired Steinhardt I was like ‘ok, I will probably get a call soon to come work for them” said RJ. Mike Rabil, CEO of the PLL, saw Kaminski doing big things for the league as well. “Mike called me and said ‘RJ I’m looking at the ocean right now, these mountains and I think you’re gonna thrive out here.”
When RJ signed his PLL contract, he was hired as the league’s social media coordinator and host, but he wasn’t really given a specific direction on what type of content to create. Based on his previous content over at TLN, the gameday vlog idea was an easy decision for Kaminski and the PLL team. RJ shared the PLL’s initial thoughts on the idea. “Lets just have RJ float around with a camera and film players and fans and bring the gameday atmosphere to viewers at home who are going to miss it.”
Kaminski’s attention to detail and his ability to see things happen before they unfold is truly amazing to watch. At home we get to see the final product of the vlogs and all the awesome clips, but watching RJ film and preparing the vlog in person is truly spectacular.
While in Seattle I was able to watch from the sidelines as RJ captured moments. The first thing I noticed is that he is hard to keep track of (and I mean that in a respectful manner). He is all around the field and stands, if you look away from him for even a second, you will lose him because he is already on the other side of the field filming another clip. He is so locked in to everything that is going on, it’s truly impressive. During halftime and in between games, if he isn’t out filming, he is off editing clips and preparing them for the vlog. It’s definitely a testament to the hard work and dedication Kaminski has for storytelling and wanting to paint a masterpiece for the viewers at home.
Due to the success of the vlogs, RJ is easily one of the biggest stars of the PLL. Even with the personal stardom that has come from from the vlogs, RJ doesn’t see himself as the star of the show. “Signing autographs doesn’t make me feel cool like it did early on, it makes me appreciative and makes me feel like I have more of a responsibility to be a role model” said RJ. “Being incredibly respectful and saying ‘nice to meet you’ and ‘thank you’, those things go a really long way…its gonna leave an everlasting impression on them and their opinion of me and the league.”
One of the best examples of this was when the PLL went to Minnesota earlier in the year. After the weekend of games the league received an email from a father who was so thankful for the experience the PLL provided for him and his son.
But that’s who Kaminski is. Anyone you speak to all say the same thing about RJ, he has such an infectious personality and he is always lighting up any room he is in, his energy makes you take yours to his level. That passion and excitement is what makes him such a great storyteller especially in an ever changing digital media world. While the PLL may have talent on the field, the talent that they have in RJ is what is going to help continue the league’s growth and success for years to come.