Basketball and volleyball teams gain Web exposure

by Beacon Staff • February 4, 2009

At an Emerson sporting event, it's typical to see some highly talented individuals putting their all into their game. This description applies not only to the athletes, but also to the members of Emerson Sports Television. From the director frantically barking orders to his crew, to the announcers at the press table doing their play-by-play, these students are dedicated to their craft.

EST is a student-run organization that produces live online broadcasts of Emerson's home games from the Brown-Plofker Gymnasium at Piano Row. Currently covered sports include men's and women's basketball and men's volleyball. So far, technical limitations have prevented them from broadcasting outside of Piano Row. Faculty advisor Pete Chvany said he hopes to someday remedy that, though the considerable cost involved is a prohibitive factor.

The members of EST say the program has given them invaluable experience in their chosen field. Junior Dan Acheson, an on-air commentator, said it has allowed him an opportunity to gain skills he would otherwise not have had.

"EST is the only play-by-play opportunity I have on campus and that's really what I want to do," the broadcast journalism major said. "I've known since I was eight years old that I wanted to do play-by-play, and EST is really the only outlet on campus that provides me the opportunity."

Chvany said Emerson Sports Television has been operating for about five years. It was only with the opening of Piano Row two years ago, however, that the program has been able to grow from covering a few games a year to the approximately 50 games that will ultimately be broadcast this year.

Junior Madison Lacerte, EST's senior producer has been involved with the program since her freshman year. She said she is impressed with the growth she has seen during her tenure.

"My freshman year, [EST] was part of the EVVYs . Then last year, we broke off of the EVVYs. Now we work with [the television, radio, and film department] in Walker and we did about maybe 30 games last year," the TV production major said. "This year we've done about 30 so far and we have another 20 to do, and we're really growing, which is awesome."

Because the events are broadcast live over the Internet, the added pressure forces students to act quickly and effectively. Lacerte said this is one of the program's most useful and unique educational aspects.

"The only other organization that's really live is the EVVYs, so [EST and the EVVYs are] the best practice for that," she said. "Just calling and having to be perfect every time has taught everybody to get to that level, and we're really trying hard and everybody's growing. We learn from our mistakes."

The program gets most of its equipment through hand-me-downs and donations from the school's other organizations and departments. Chvany said the program owes a debt of gratitude to this generosity.

"EIV gave us equipment, we have repurposed the stuff, we have borrowed things," he said. "We've been given things by some of the stations so that we're able to do it at a pretty minimum cost."

The director's booth, located around the corner from the Skybox in the basement of Piano Row, is filled with an array of second-hand boards and monitors the program has received over the years. The room is small and cluttered with equipment, but it provides enough room for the director to get the job done.

According to students in the group, the program has provided tangible benefits to its members, in terms of both individual skill and professional recognition. Lacerte said she has received positive feedback from members of the production community.

"I've heard of a couple places that are interested in this, so we show them [via our webstream] . this is exactly what we've done the last few years," she said. "They're totally interested and totally willing to talk to us about getting internships and everything."

Members of the program are already reaping the benefits of this exposure. Recently, Acheson received a glowing review from a potential employer that he hopes will lead to an opportunity within the sports broadcasting field.

"I really want to do play-by-play for a baseball team this summer, and I told the lady that would be the business manager of the team to listen in, and she did," he said. "She got one of her business partners to listen in, and she said, 'You did a phenomenal job doing the broadcast.'"

The program is not only a boon for those directly involved in production, but also for Emerson athletes. Chvany said he has received thanks from families of Emerson students as well as far-away Emerson alumni.

"I get moms, dads, boyfriends, girlfriends, cousins, aunts, dropping by and saying 'I was on the road, I wanted to watch my nephew' and they're all using the Web to do that," he said. "I get players who have gone onto careers in California, and they're sitting there going 'I've got this time, I know I can go on the Internet and watch the basketball team that I played for."

Chvany said he believes the program to be a highly valuable educational tool.

He said, "every minute that a kid can spend doing something, every minute that somebody can spend acquiring greater skill is a good minute."