In addition to the players and fans, there’s a new group of students popping up at Charger sporting events.
Members of the Providence Day Sports Network (PDSN), an Upper School club, are becoming an invaluable presence, serving as the Athletics program’s eyes, ears and voice in providing high quality coverage of the teams and other sporting events.
The club allows students with a passion for sports media to “learn and explore some of the basic fundamentals of game management, production and broadcasting,” said Ed Prisco, Athletics assistant and sports information director and club co-advisor.
Colleges are now offering degrees in sports communications, which include television and video production, radio and studio production, broadcasting, sports announcing and commentary, news writing and reporting.
PDSN provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in those skillsets. Club members learn how to record, edit and stream video; conduct interviews; write and edit news stories; and do live commentary and play-by-play announcing.
“It aligns with Providence Day’s mission of developing and inspiring a passion for learning in each of its students,” said Prisco.
12th-grader Will Campbell joined to pursue his passion for sports media and broadcasting. As a play-by-play analyst for the varsity basketball streams, his voice was heard weekly online by hundreds of followers.
“Through the club, I have had numerous opportunities to learn about the sports media world,” he said. “And I have learned the importance of professionalism, especially when live on the Internet.”
Among the skills learned, 11th-grader Berkley Cassell said he gained “the ability to adjust, take in different ideas and work as a team. I have also been able to develop better friendships because of working with different people over the course of a season.”
Development of a formalized sports management and broadcast club seemed a natural progression of the sports-related assistance already provided by students — such as game management (announcing games, working the scoreboard and clock) and, for the last two years, the streaming of varsity girls’ and boys’ basketball games.
Interest in streaming has grown exponentially, said Prisco, not only from coaches and players, but others in the broader PDS community.
“We have heard from grandparents, parents, family members and alumni thanking us for streaming games because they were unable to attend, usually because they were out of town or the country,” said Prisco. “On some events we’ve had more than 2,000 viewers.”
Prisco wanted to expand the service into more of an ESPN-like operation, which he said included getting “more sophisticated” with their game streaming — two announcers instead of one, two cameras instead of one, more special effects, etc. The growth also would include player, coach and fan pre- and post-game interviews as well as 2-to 3-minute promotionals to push via the PDS website and social media channels.
“The expansion of interviews with players and coaches could be extremely popular and increase our digital presence and viewership,” said Prisco.
The progress all lends assistance to the club’s secondary objective —helping maintain PDS’s leadership role over conference and state rivals as it relates to the athletics website experience, game streaming and social media utilization.
“The Providence Day Sports Network definitely keeps the school on the cutting edge when it comes to sports media,” said Will.
“This club allows PDS to stay heads and shoulders above other schools because no other school I can think of has this extensive use of Twitter and the ability to broadcast school sporting events live,” he said.
Supported by the Athletics office, Technology Department and Charger Club, Prisco said PDSN is part of an effort to ensure the streaming program will continue to mature and expand. And that “PDS will continue to take a leadership role in this new and exciting field,” he said.
Helping foster that success is Upper School math teacher Lee Taylor, the “Voice of the Chargers” whom students observe announcing during football and basketball games. Also involved is Jonathon Hoppe ’16, whom Prisco credits with being instrumental in the growth of the streaming initiative.
Hoppe started announcing at the basketball games as a freshman and became the main announcer when the fledgling “stream team” formed during his junior year.
“I frequently watch the tape of the state championship games I was able to call last spring,” he said. “It was a great feeling knowing the service we provided allowed fans who couldn’t make the trip up to watch the game.”
Now studying to become a professional sports broadcaster at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Hoppe stays in contact with Prisco and the club, offering suggestions and advice and critiques of their broadcasts.
He also avails himself of PDSN’s online efforts.
“The fact that I am able to watch Charger basketball in New York is crazy,” said Hoppe. “It helps me stay connected with the team and the school.”
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