In an age of new technology, the Tyler Junior College athletic department is keeping up with the times by offering webcasts of select games and live stats for the baseball games.
The idea for webcasting began in 2009 but it wasn’t until the District Tournament in McKinney that it began to look like a reality.
“I went to the baseball District Tournament in McKinney, Texas,” said Assistant Athletic Director Chuck Smith. “I met Terry who runs Sportsgram.net. He showed me how he runs the site and how easy it was. That gave us the tools to begin webcasting.”
The first TJC webcast was Aug. 23, 2009. They are able to broadcast using just an Internet card, soundboard and laptop.
“It was a learning process,” said Smith. “It took time to learn all of the player’s names and the terminology associated with each sport.”
The webcasts require preparation and careful attention to detail. The team is in the middle of baseball season and broadcasts many of the home games.
“I get to the ballpark a few hours before the game and get interviews from both the TJC coaches as well as the visiting coaches,” said former baseball coach Jon Groth who provides the play-by-play for listeners. “I ask them how the team has been playing, get their perspective and any information that might be interesting for the listeners.”
Approximately 30 minutes before the game, Smith and Groth begin their broadcast. They typically describe the scene for the listeners such as the weather conditions or which uniforms the teams are wearing. They also play coach interviews and describe key matchups that will take place.
Even though the webcasting team is prepared, game days are hectic. “It’s always a scramble,” said Groth. “For example, we like to get lineup cards from the coaches as early as possible. Sometimes it’s hard because the coaches don’t know who they’ll play until after the team warms up and by the time we get the lineups, it’s almost time to go on air.”
Despite the challenges, Groth said he enjoys broadcasting.
“Broadcasting is something that has always been on the back burner for me,” he said. “I did some games for Texas A&M when I was the assistant coach there. I liked it and it was fun. When I decided to step down from coaching at TJC the broadcasting opportunity came my way and it seemed like the right fit for me.”
The athletic department also has live stats for baseball games.
“Live stats are another avenue for online viewers to keep up with our games,” said Head Baseball Coach Doug Wren. “We can’t webcast every game and this software allows the viewers to keep up with the play by play.”
At www.apacheathletics.com, the live stats site shows everything one would want to know. Team managers log in what is happening, which could be anything from the pitch count to lineups. As the game unfolds, the site is updated.
Sometimes there are technical glitches but even then all of the stats end up posted.
“We went to Redlands Community College in Oklahoma for a game and the computer crashed,” said Wren. “On the six-hour bus ride home, we went through the book kept during the game and then put all of that information into the live stats software.”
Live stats and webcasts are growing in popularity and getting hits from around the world.
“It’s cool that we’re getting hits internationally,” said Smith. “We get hits anywhere from South America to Europe.”
Webcasts typically get anywhere from 40 to 100 hits per game, but depending on the game, those numbers increase.
“It depends on what type of game. If it’s a regular season game, we get around 40 hits. During the national soccer tournament, we got 400 hits for a single broadcast,” said Smith.
One benefit that comes from webcasting is access. Player’s families who don’t live in Tyler can hear the games and keep up with how their son or daughter is playing.
“Webcasts give our parents an opportunity to follow along,” said Wren. “Plus our games are typically during weekdays so it’s hard for parents to get off work. But they can have the webcasts in the background and keep up with the games.”
Webcasts also provide opportunities to promote TJC in the form of commercials.
“I can go to Vincent [Nguyen, director of Student Life and Involvement] and let him know we need a 30-second or minute spot. An organization like Phi Theta Kappa will come in and we record a spot to play during breaks in the webcast,” said Smith.
With the success of webcasting, video webcasting is beginning to look like a possibility.
“Webcasting and live stats provide the best of both worlds. Video webcasting is the next step,” said Wren. “There are several NCAA II programs that have it right now.”
“UT-Tyler has video webcasting,” said Groth. “They have three to four cameras set up around their field and it streams online.”
Previous webcasts are also archived for future listening. They may be purchased for listening for $1. This money is used to help cover costs, such as a yearly site fee, associated with the webcasts.
Webcasts as well as live stats may be accessed through the top right corner of the athletic department home page.