Student-produced live streams of high school football games drawing lots of fans

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — With COVID-19 restricting the number of spectators allowed into stadiums this season, many high school sports fans have relied on live streams to view games.  

Luckily for fans watching a stream produced by Homestead High School Media, that’s really not such a bad thing. 

“Homestead Live is a program that involves us broadcasting all of the home sporting events that we have – it’s a big production,” said Caleb Wood, a junior at Homestead High School who helped develop the program. “We have multiple camera angles, graphics.”

Although it broadcasts most of the school’s home sporting events, Homestead Live’s biggest, and perhaps its most impressive, production is for home football games. The production involves nine students who either operate the cameras, produce the stream or work as broadcasters. 

The stream includes five different cameras to get the best shot depending on where the action in the game is. Graphics display the game clock, score, statistics and any other relevant information. The two broadcasters do a play-by-play. 

There’s also pregame, halftime and post-game update shows.  

“We’ve been looking at what professional broadcasts look like and kind of mimicking that and making our own,” said Ashton Hackman, a senior at Homestead and another one of the students who helped develop the program. “People have been saying that they’re just blown away at the production value especially because it’s just a high school broadcast.”

All of the preparation that goes into the production takes about a week. 

“It kind of starts after the game [the previous Friday night] when we can start making the stats, then we make promotional videos for the stream, all of the commercials that you see then usually on Thursday or Friday we come out here and bring equipment out, set up all of the cameras, we run cables,” said Wood. “All of that takes hours of preparation before the game.”

Wood said that sometimes after the games he even watches the live stream at home to critique it and see what can be improved on for the next one.

Both students agreed that all of the work they put into the streams is completely worth it. 

“It’s just fun, overall, setting things up and watching people come together and creating an amazing piece,” said Hackman. 

The live streams have come a long way from when they started three years ago. 

“Years ago it was just a single camera and then we added another camera that was focused on the scoreboard,” said Hackman. 

Adam Schenkel, the radio and TV director at Homestead, who oversees the production crew, said the high school is known for its radio broadcasters throughout the state. However, once they saw they were getting less listeners, they knew they had to transition into TV. So three years ago, the school started live streaming a few basketball games. 

“Then last year we really wanted to go all out and it just evolved over time,” said Schenkel. “When you go back to three years ago, we were lucky if we got up to 100 viewers. Last year, the most we had was 540. Those were numbers that we thought were staggering and that we’ll never top.”

Admittedly, with the help of the coronavirus, according to Schenkel, the live stream of the first game this year had 1,490 viewers and the second had nearly 2,000. 

Thanks to a donation from Lutheran Health Network, which sponsors the live stream, the production crew was able to upgrade its equipment this year. 

“But regardless, there’s nothing that we have where we just press a button and it does everything for us,” said Schenkel. “These kids are the ones that are working throughout the week to prep and to know where the best camera angles are and how to execute them in the broadcast on Friday nights.”

Anyone enrolled in one of the five radio and television classes offered at Homestead can participate in the live streams. 

Although Schenkel and another supervisor oversee Homestead Live he attributes all of its success to the students. 

“The biggest thing we want everyone to know is that we are hands-off when it comes to in-game. Everything you hear, everything you see, is student produced,” said Schenkel.

To watch the broadcasts, search ‘Homestead Media’ on YouTube or click here.

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