Friday, September 29, 2023

Broken Arrow students work football’s big screen


Video professionals in the Broken Arrow Public Schools in Oklahoma have brought in students to work the cameras and even produce the show for football games, giving them experience and teaching them techniques they can’t learn in other sports, the BAHS Pulse reports.

Beth Penrice and Noah Osborne anchor this student series of video newscasts and highlight various aspects of student life at the largest high school in Oklahoma, which serves a little more than 2,300 students in 10th through 12th grades. The school will be in the national spotlight on January 2, as the marching band participates in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

At about the 4-minute mark in the latest Pulse episode before the winter break, the show ran a segment that gives us an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into the production of video replays and broadcasts for home football games.

“We’re always looking for ways to get more student engagement within our program,” says Greg Spencer, the district’s video production manager, “really just to give them more responsibility and hands-on opportunities.”

This culminated in the final home game this season being produced by Johnathan Rico, a student at the high school.

“When it came to the day that I had to produce, it was kind of scary but fun at the same time,” he says. “I was excited to be one of the first students to ever do it. Being in control of four cameras, you have to have trust in the cameramen.”

Sports information coordinator Steve Cowen says he has been impressed with how quickly those student camera operators catch on to the unique challenges of football.

“In football, those cameras are a little different,” he explains. “You have to do full focus, shooting and following the ball. It wasn’t even a quarter, and kids were following the ball and adjusting and moving the focus, with runners coming toward them or moving away from them.”

“You know that everybody in the stadium is going to see your shots, because they put them up on the scoreboard,” says Noah Ray, one of those student camera operators. “It puts that tension on you to not mess up the shots, and to do good work.”

The team effort means coordinating those shots, deciding on graphics, keeping track of game stats, running commercials, and even directing the person on the instant-replay machine.

“You don’t really realize how many buttons have to be pushed just to get a graphic up there, or to change from a graphic to a play and back to another graphic,” says Steve Cowen, sports information coordinator.

The involvement of students has brought rewards, according to one student. “Last year, in the student section,” says Caitlen Boyd, “you see the stuff, and it’s not like you actually think about how much hard work goes into it. The experience was really inspiring for me.”

“It takes a great team effort to really pull it off,” says Terry Spreiter, technical producer for the show. “The kids are supporting us, giving us signals, and they just do a great job.”

Broken Arrow High School (Mckmckmck / WikiMedia CC)
Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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