JA’s Raider Network team produced a live broadcast for ESPN at the NCAA men’s basketball game between Ole Miss and Southeastern Louisiana on December 21. The game marked the second year in a row that Raider Network has been selected to broadcast for the network. Assisted by Ole Miss announcers Graham Doty and John Stroud and staff from Shorter Productions, the group was also joined by two JA alumni, Will Whitfield ‘19 and Jack McIntyre ‘19. McIntyre previously worked with the Raider Network as a student, and is now attending Ole Miss where he works directly with the SEC Network. Associate Athletic Director Brandt Walker acted as the game’s time-out coordinator. Rounding out the team were JA ninth-graders Samuel Long and Walker Lake.
Samuel found that his experience as a camera operator for JA’s broadcasts prepared him for a larger-scale broadcast. “What stood out to me was how easy it was to transition to a college setting after working with the Raider Network filming high school athletic productions,” he said “The Raider Network trailer has everything that a normal SEC broadcast would need to operate, making the game seem like a normal Raider Network production.”
The live broadcast gave both Samuel and Walker a taste of how a professional broadcast team operates. “The highlight of running a camera [was] Mr. Wettach, Josh Hinkle, and Richard Stafford’s level of professionalism. … When I was working, I was treated with the respect that they treated each other and the non-student cameramen with,” said Walker. For him, the benefits of working on the Raider Network contribute to several important skills. “All in all, it is a great way for learning how to be a member of a team, how to manage time, and how to act professionally in a work environment,” he said.
The Raider Network’s feed was sent from the Mississippi Coliseum to Charlotte, North Carolina, and out across the internet on ESPN’s digital SEC Network+. Currently, JA is the only high school within the SEC region to be selected to produce a broadcast for ESPN. For the students, the experience was a great way to kick off Christmas break by building their resumes and enjoying front-row access to an NCAA basketball game. Two days of set up and laying more than half a mile of cable throughout were well worth the opportunity to be at the heart of an NCAA game.