The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Murrow senior went from dreaming of playing football to dreaming of working in media

“CougZone” director Cristian Gonzalez strives to work in career sports
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BRANDON WILLMAN
Cristian Gonzalez poses at the anchor desk of “CougZone” while preparing to direct an episode, Feb. 12, in Pullman, Wash.

Cristian Gonzalez, “CougZone” director and senior broadcast production-multimedia journalism double major, played football growing up. The son of an alum, he made many trips to Pullman and watched WSU football games, looking down at the field with the aspiration to one day play on it.

But, when he stopped growing, that aspiration transitioned from playing on the field to being a media member on the sideline.

“I saw media members on the field and told myself, ‘Before I leave college, I have to experience that,’” he said.

After four full years at WSU, the 2023 spring game served as the first time he worked as a credentialed media member on the sideline. He said he has looked back and realized his footage from that game is not great, but it still solidified his love for working in the media.

During the recent football season, he took a road trip with a group of friends to Eugene, Oregon, to take video and photos on the sidelines of the Oregon vs. WSU football game.

While he said he cannot quite put his finger on exactly what made the trip so successful, he knows it is something he will remember forever. On the trip, he made the realization that he had accomplished his goal of working in media for football games, fulfilling the promise he made himself. The trip felt like his “you made it” moment.

“I feel like it wasn’t supposed to work out how perfectly it did. But it did. Like all the pieces fell together and we all had that sense that we had to do our best work on the trip,” he said.

The episode of “Wazzu Recap,” Cable 8 Productions’ individual sporting event recap show, the crew produced from that trip is the episode the team submitted for a Student Emmy nomination, making it not only his favorite trip he took but his favorite accomplishment he has led his staff in.

“We all knew that it was something we could put our full efforts in and get the outcome out that we wanted on a trip,” Cristian said. “And we accomplished that and then some.”

A people person, Cristian’s relationships are what have defined his academic journey and entire life, and led him to becoming the “CougZone” director. There are no two people who changed the way he lives his life more than one of his childhood friends and his sister.

First is his childhood friend Elijah Dobin, who Cristian said died in 2023 after taking a fat burner not meant for humans.

“I feel so guilty that I never really reached out as much as I did. And so now, that’s the biggest motivation. I almost feel like I’m living for two now,” Cristian said. “He was older than me but now I’m older than he ever was.”

His death shocked Cristian, making him take a step back and realize the value of every given day. He said you never can anticipate tragedy like an early death, but it is also one of the things that made him take to heart a new life lesson.

Cristian says he remembers his late friend every day, but the impact he’s making is not something tangible that he can look to and see if he is making a meaningful impact on. That distinction is left for his younger sister, Gennessa Gonzalez.

“Elijah’s the behind the head reason but the standing reason is my sister. She’s everything to me,” he said. “She was diagnosed with autism early in life and people were giving her these restrictions on what she can do in life and yet she continues to break those restrictions.”

He said every day, he puts his best foot forward because she is doing so much good despite those restrictions.

Studying early childhood education at Columbia Basin College, she constantly impresses him. He said he loves that she is doing something she enjoys and is smarter than him in ways he could never imagine.

“I’m just so proud of her,” Cristian said. “She’s really everything to me.”

While those two relationships have been the most impactful on how Cristian lives, they are not the only ones he thinks about on a daily basis.

From Kennewick, Washington, Cristian grew up in the United States but is of Mexican descent. He said he does not let his scope narrow too much, never taking for granted the decisions and sacrifices made that allowed him to get to where he is today.

“As a person of color, as someone whose blood is from a different land than the one I stand on today. There have been many sacrifices made that allow me to be standing here in this position. And those sacrifices mean the world to me,” Cristian said.

The position that he stands in today is as “CougZone” director.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Cristian Gonzalez adjusts camera focus while directing an episode of “CougZone,” Feb. 12, in Pullman, Wash.

“CougZone,” Cable 8’s WSU sports show adjoined with “Wazzu Recap,” has produced six seasons, two of which have had Cristian as director. Cristian said he was unsure if he had the right qualifications, but with the staff he inherited and recruited, he felt confident it would prove to be the right decision.

“If I didn’t like the people I was doing it with, I wouldn’t be doing it,” Cristian said. “To create something good, you don’t have to necessarily be the best at what you do. You just have to make sure you find the people who are the best at what they do.”

Cristian said he has never been more confident in the future of “CougZone” and he is very proud of his staff’s accomplishments, which include the Student Emmy nomination and winning several Cable 8 awards.

The “CougZone” staff gave him a lot of confidence in their talents, but he said he remained hesitant in his self-confidence. After all, he never thought he would become the director of the show.

When he first joined Cable 8, he did so to become a scriptwriter. But when Sam Taylor, senior multimedia journalism major, asked Cristian to be the director to his producer, Cristian thought he might as well give it a shot.

Part of the reason that he found success is his desire to always do his best work. Marvin Marcelo, Murrow scholarly associate professor, said Cristian can get the best out of other people because he is not difficult to work with nor afraid to push them to work harder.

“He holds himself and his work to a high standard and it kind of brings everyone’s work up to his level of creativity,” Marcelo said. “He still expects good work from everyone, but he kind of has this charm that people want to do that kind of work for him. It’s kind of like an X factor that can’t really be explained.”

Though he will have been in Cable 8 for four semesters and, at minimum, won the club’s awards of “Best Crew Member,” “Best Production Assistant,” “Best Director,” “Best Sports Show,” “Best Marketed Show” and the most prestigious “Executive Award” by the time he graduates, two people had to convince Cristian to join in the first place.

Trevor Junt, 2023 multimedia journalism graduate, grew up in the same hometown as Cristian and worked together with him for a minor league baseball team.

Junt constantly pestered Cristian to take the chance to join Cable 8. He admits it likely got to the point where it became annoying, but he would not change his approach because of where Cristian is now.

“As soon as I finally broke him down to join, he killed it. The dude had a drive I didn’t even know he had,” Junt said. “[He’s] one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had work for me. He loved what he was doing and he was great at it.”

Even with Junt’s obsession with getting him to join the club, it was not until Cristian’s mom emphasized that he should do more in college that he was convinced to finally give it a try. Cristian said his mom, Nelda, the alum who inspired him to come to WSU, gives strong advice, so he listens when she talks.

Nelda said she noticed that after the pandemic, he had a social shift and found it difficult to find his old self. She encouraged him to go to the informational meeting Junt kept pushing, and she immediately could tell he had his spark back.

“At Cable 8, he found his ‘Coug family,’” Nelda said.

Cristian’s dream is to one day work for the Seattle Seahawks. With high ambitions, he has been taking in new information in his classes and extracurricular activities all while impressing colleagues, friends, professors and everyone he interacts with through his work ethic and personality.

“I do hope he uses his skills and creativity to bring about positive outcomes for himself and his community,” Marcelo said. “His creativity, tenacity and positive outlook should pave his way to success.”

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.