When Ed Ybarra hits the road, he’s almost always packing a backstage pass. Over the years, he’s high-fived former President George H.W. Bush at a business conference, spent time in prison with Larry King and shot the breeze with O.J. Simpson at the Super Bowl.
As a freelance camera operator for more than two decades, his work has taken him around the world and behind the scenes at memorable events ranging from talk shows to commercial productions to game shows. His prison stint with King, for example, was just long enough to record an interview with Leslie Van Houten, a member of the notorious Charles Manson family.
The bulk of Ybarra’s freelance camera work has centered on live sporting events. He covered basketball and football for many years — including four Super Bowls and the World Basketball Championships in Paris — and the Padres for 22 seasons to date. The schedule can be intense; he’s covered up to 140 games in a baseball season. On the road, he would sometimes lose his bearings, particularly during basketball playoffs.
“We would get up in the dark, catch a plane, do a game at night, go to bed, get up the next morning and catch another flight,” he says. “After three or four cities, we would look at each other and say, ‘Do we know what city we are in? Has anyone seen daylight?’ That was both fun and one of the reasons it was time to get off the road.”
Now in charge of the circulation desk in USD’s Instructional Media Services department, Ybarra, who’s been with the university for eight years, oversees the inventory of classroom media equipment, troubleshoots problems in the classroom and helps with video production of USD events.
He still freelances after hours, and in fact, has begun directing live broadcasts of local sporting events and has written nine feature-length scripts that he’s shopping around. But his main priority is supplying the media equipment USD professors need to help deliver their lectures. He knows the students benefit and hopes that one day his own daughter, Jillian, might benefit too.
“We take great pride in making sure the equipment works. I take that seriously because that’s how I want my department to work when my daughter gets here, should she get here. I don’t want her education to be lost for a day,” Ybarra says. “I don’t want any student’s education to be lost for a day.”