Bald Eagle Area School District administrators said senior Dylan Bathurst is the reason the public can view live broadcasts of district games from the comfort of their own home.
On Wednesday, Bathurst, 17, spent about two hours before the varsity boys’ basketball game tipped off against Bellefonte to make sure video was successfully recording and transmitting to the Eagle Ambassadors’ YouTube channel.
It’s something he’s done for nearly every home football and basketball game since the fall of 2013 — and more recently, for baseball, softball, volleyball and wrestling.
Bathurst may be a one-man student member of Bald Eagle Area High School’s broadcast club, but he has teacher and community help to make the product a reality.
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“We don’t have the manpower, but are working to get the games out there, and trying to recruit more people,” he said.
Most days, game production takes four people.
Steve Miller, a class of 1983 graduate and former host of WHVL’s “For the Record,” is the commentator for the games from the press box of the high school gymnasium or football field. Athletic Director Doug Dyke accompanies Miller on a portable radio and earphone, remotely from the court or field.
The two discuss plays, statistics and athletes similar to a professional television network broadcast, Miller said.
Miller used to do the play-by-play with his son Drew, who graduated from BEA last year.
Dale Burkett, also a BEA grad, operates the camera. And Bathurst does the behind-the-scenes work to make sure audio and video are streaming successfully online.
“The first year was totally done by trial and error, and we’d run into glitches, but I knew how to fix those,” Bathurst said.
His tech skills stem from more than three years of working with the district’s IT department. Last year, Bathurst turned his volunteer work into a work-study program, working alongside the district’s technical director, John Urbanik.
“Most days we have to remind him that’s he’s still a student,” Urbanik said.
The broadcast club was formed almost two years ago after getting the board’s approval. The first broadcast was the class of 2013 graduation, Dyke said.
By fall of 2013, live sports broadcasts were uploaded to the Eagle Ambassadors’ YouTube channel. It also included interviews with BEA graduates, coaches and student-athletes — all in high definition, and attracting “a few hundred” online views, Bathurst said.
The club was supported by Eagle Ambassadors that provided funding for equipment and a software program called Wirecast that allows the video to broadcast live.
Eagle Ambassadors is an alumni association that helps supports the district.
“The quality is pretty spectacular,” Bathurst said. “I really think parents and grandparents appreciate the livestream, because not everyone can get to the game, and it’s also a chance for the athletes to look back at the game.”
Before each game, Bathurst plugs in a video camera, television and computer feed into a portable audio box to simulate the live stream, and then monitors its connectivity.
“It’s been working pretty good, and we’ve been getting a lot of good feedback on it,” Bathurst said.
This year, the club invested in another device used to hook up the equipment to the scoreboard that automatically generates a score box with score updates at the bottom of the screen, Bathurst said.
“It makes it very easy on us,” he said.
Eagle Ambassadors is also funding a $550 tech upgrade for the club this year, said district spokeswoman Rose Hoover.
The next step is to help recruit more students into the group.
“Last year we had a few members, but they were seniors and graduated,” Bathurst said. “It’s been hard to get students involved this year. … Ideally, everything would be run by students.”
Bathurst plans to attend Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology after graduation.