Near the end of his freshman year at Independence High School, Jacob Horchler joined the Frisco ISD Sports Broadcast Club, a small group of nine students. Now a senior and president of the club, Horchler smiled when asked if he thought the club would become what it is today.
“With this studio and this equipment?” he said. “No way.”
The Sports Broadcast Club is now more than a club. This fall, a sports broadcast class made its debut at the FISD Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center. The class has 26 students enrolled and the club now has around 70 members.
Before the club was formed in 2016 by Steven Doherty, a marketing and journalism teacher at Independence, FISD had a collection of students who would help broadcast several games each year. Doherty helped push the group forward, and the increase in the club’s popularity led to the CTE class, which Doherty teaches.
He credits the original nine club members for sparking student interest in sports broadcasting.
“They have done a tremendous job of promoting the club,” Doherty said, “and explaining to friends and classmates that we do way more than just live broadcast sports.”
The club expects to broadcast more than 50 FISD events
during the school year, many of which will be live on the District’s new sports website, friscoisdsports.com. But as Doherty said, the club does much more than live sports broadcasts.
Club members produce studio shows, hype videos and highlight reels, along with writing, filming and producing pregame, halftime and postgame shows for events.
“You get to try it all,” said Horchler, who is planning to major in sports media, with a specialization in sports broadcast production, at Oklahoma State University. “We’ve got kids who will be on air on Thursday, work a camera on Friday, and the next week do graphics or something else.”
For students interested in pursuing a career in sports broadcasting, the club’s emergence came at the perfect time. One of those students is Centennial High School senior Peter Chung, who joined the club last year and is now taking the class at the CTE Center. Chung started off working video cameras at sporting events, but after a few weeks, he became part of the “on-air talent” that hosts studio shows and provides play-by-play and commentary at sporting events.
“To be able to impact the audience’s emotion with your voice is amazing,” said Chung, who is also the president of Centennial’s speech and debate club. “That’s why I want to go into sports broadcasting.”
It’s not just sports fans in the club. Students interested in general video production, as well as all forms of technology, are attracted to the club.
Liz Wigglesworth, an Independence senior and two-year member of the club, plans to study computer science in college. Wigglesworth doesn’t know much about sports, but she knows a lot about graphic design, and the leader of the club’s graphic team gets a thrill when she sees her work on the big screen at the Ford Center at The Star.
“Seeing that and saying, ‘Hey, we made that.’ That’s awesome,” Wigglesworth said.
The partnership with the Cowboys and their production staff allows FISD students access to high-end cameras and other equipment at the Ford Center, where the club’s live broadcast is shown on the large video boards inside and outside of the facility. The students use equipment most high school students can never dream of using.
“The cameras at the Ford Center cost over $200,000 and they are operated by high schoolers every Thursday and Friday night,” Doherty said. “This has been the case since the Ford Center opened, and I am willing to bet that most fans in the stands have no clue because the production value is so good.”
The class meets twice a week at the CTE Center in a classroom that is adjacent to a video production studio. Students who cannot fit the sports broadcast class into their schedule can be part of the club, which will add new members throughout the year. By next spring, Doherty expects to have more students involved than last year, when the club topped out at 89.
The students built the program from the ground up, and they take great pride in their work. When everything is clicking and the production is going well, Chung said, the students get an adrenaline rush.
“You’ll hear athletes talk about being in the zone,” Chung said, “and I see that for sports broadcasting, too. All of the roles work together so well, and no one role is more important than another.”
Students who are interested in joining the Sports Broadcast Club can email Steven Doherty at email@example.com.
This story appears in the October 2018 issue of Frisco ISD FOCUS Magazine. Read the entire magazine here: