Mount St. Mary building its own version of Longhorn Network online
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS — St. Mary has been webcasting some football and basketball games for years, but this year, that coverage is expanding and students are getting involved in the production.
Think of it as the Longhorn Network of high school football.
At Mount St. Mary this academic year, at least 30 of the Rockets' athletic events will be streamed live on msmrockets.com, the MSM Sports Network.
St. Mary has been webcasting several of its home football and basketball games for the past four years with boosters providing color and play by play. This season, however, St. Mary students are getting in front of the camera and taking over the production duties.
“We are trying to give (viewers) a TV-type experience,” said Greg Spencer, instructor of the TV and webcast productions class at St. Mary, which will be providing the content for the MSM Sports Network.
Spencer's students are producing the webcasts, writing articles and shooting video stories about Rocket players for msmrockets.com.
The MSM Sports Network also is selling advertising for the first time to raise money for the athletic department.
The students are building banner ads for the website and hope to produce video commercials for advertisers as well.
“I really believe it's time for people to look outside the box and think of new ways to earn revenue and showcase their schools and their athletic programs,” Spencer said. “I think this is a great way to do it.”
St. Mary began live streaming of home high school football and basketball games four years ago because of Mark Jeffreys, the creator of the Bass Zone website.
Jeffreys, who at the time had two young sons attending feeder schools of St. Mary, was familiar with the technology because he was streaming live professional bass fishing tournaments on the Bass Zone.
Jeffreys approached St. Mary's athletic director about doing the same for Rockets' football and basketball games. St. Mary did not have an Internet connection in its press box, so Jeffreys and three other parents spent a day digging a ditch and burying a cable.
Jeffreys bought the domain name, msmrockets.com, created the website and with one camera began live streaming the Rocket football games. He provided the play by play while another St. Mary booster, Jerry Wagner, was the analyst for football games.
“We probably did four football games and about five basketball games the first year,” Jeffreys said. “By the end of that first year, typically we would have about 500 to 1,000 people that were watching the game and watching the replay.”
Not only were Mount St. Mary's alumni watching, but so were fans of the opposing teams.
The webcasts are interactive and gave viewers the opportunity to provide feedback. During the Rockets' game against Frederick, Bomber fans were sending Jeffreys the stats on their players and other tidbits to use during the webcast.
The webcasts also helped Wagner's sons, Justin and Jeremy, earn athletic scholarships to Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass. The Wagner boys played both basketball and baseball at St. Mary.
Eastern Nazarene learned of the Wagners through a recruiting website, and an assistant coach began watching their basketball games on the MSM Sports Network.
“He convinced the head coach into coming to watch them play, and the next thing you know they are going to school 10 miles south of Boston,” Wagner said.
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