Announcements and Important Events
When Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. livestreamed Columbus East and Columbus North football, volleyball and soccer games in the fall, it did it with adult announcers and technical staff.
This winter, BCSC is livestreaming boys and girls basketball games, but it is doing it with students, most of which are aspiring sportscasters.
“From the very beginning, I wanted to get students involved,” BCSC communications coordinator Josh Burnett said. “As a school corporation, we have a very good history at both North and East of having very good journalists and broadcasters. I wanted to get the students some good experience to get ready for college, or if they want to go into the job field, to have something they could put on their resume, and they’ve just done such a great job.”
Burnett spearheaded the effort to livestream games this fall after the COVID-19 pandemic led to a limited number of fans being allowed to attend in person. BCSC broadcast all of the East and North home football games, as well as the schools’ head-to-head matchups in girls and boys soccer and volleyball.
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While Burnett worked on the broadcasts in the fall, he is taking more of a supervising role this winter.
“I’ve tried to really get into more of a coaching role that tries to get the students to lead themselves,” Burnett said. “I think the best way for our students to be prepared for that next level is to get experience where we’re empowering them to make decisions and to work through the ups and downs of live broadcasting. It’s a difficult task, but the best thing for them is for them to be there learning as they go, learning from their successes, as well as any struggles.”
The students are using the same BCSC equipment that was used to livestream games this fall and other events such as school board meetings. Burnett has gone before most of the basketball games to help the students set up the equipment.
“The setup is usually some of the hardest stuff,” Burnett said. “We’re getting pretty close to the time where they’re going to be doing it all by themselves.”
During the games, Burnett has gone home and watched the livestream or had the audio on in the background. He communicates with the students through group text before and after they are on the air and during they games if they need help.
“We just try to stay in constant communication to where they’re able to ask me questions if they need support, or we’re able to encourage them to keep them going,” Burnett said.
BSU students help at East
A couple of former East athletes who currently are broadcasting students at Ball State are helping out East senior Malachi Parks.
Parks, who quarterbacked the Olympians football team and was The Republic co-Football Player of the Year this fall, is an aspiring sports broadcaster himself. He plans to play football and study broadcasting at a small college.
“It’s something I want to do in college and pursue after college, so I e-mailed Josh and asked him if I could help just to get some experience at the high school level and hopefully get ready for the future,” Parks said. “From my very first game until now, I feel a lot more confident. Knowing the teams and getting people to stay engaged with the game has definitely improved.”
Parks has been announcing, and Ball State freshman Collin Phillips run the camera for most of the East girls games. Parks and Ball State sophomore Zach Pierce broadcast the boys season opener against Silver Creek, and East senior Kaden Wise ran the camera.
“I knew Josh was going to need some help getting through all the events and livestreaming a bunch of stuff,” Phillips said. “He contacted me, and I thought it would be fun to do. It’s great to get some experience, and I thought I would stay in the flow of it when I’m back at school.”
Phillips is in Ball State’s acclaimed SportsLink program. He helped produce the high school volleyball state finals at Ball State and shot highlights at Ball State football games, including Saturday’s Mid-American Conference West Division championship against Western Michigan.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and Malachi to get in there and help out Josh and help out the community,” Phillips said. “Last year, they didn’t have to deal with all this (COVID pandemic), so I’m glad we are able to do that.”
Pierce, a telecommunications major, has been working for Burnett since the winter of 2018 when Burnett owned JAB Media. Pierce worked community and personal events, including the past couple Elementary Basketball League Super Saturday tournaments.
“It’s a really good resume builder,” Pierce said. “It really broadens your perspective and makes you realize what you want to do. I had never really broadcast to a lot of people, but it’s a great experience to do this. I really like it. I think it’s really fun. I’ve watched professional broadcasts and what what they do.”
Are spring sports next?
Burnett said any other interested students still are welcome to help with the livestreaming efforts.
“I can’t be everywhere at once, but the way we can grow is by expanding our team and have everyone take charge,” Burnett said. “We’re trying to build a crew, so if students are interested in doing it, we’re definitely trying to see how we can get them involved.”
Now that BCSC has livestreamed fall and winter sports, spring sports could be next.
“We’re talking about that right now and being prepared,” Burnett said. “Outside sports are a little bit different than inside. Some of the places don’t have internet connections. We’re trying to figure that out right now and see what we can do, whether it’s live or recorded, to support those sports, as well.”
Burnett said through sponsorships, BCSC has raised more than 20,000 for the North and East athletics departments. The sponsors help BCSC continue to allow it to livestream events free of charge to fans.
“We’re trying to make everything free to the community,” Burnett said. “We’re dedicated to making it a free viewing option to both high schools, and that’s not going to change.”