S-O students livestream play-by-play

Sibley-Ocheyedan High School seniors Cody Dykstra and Joshua Nobles practice announcing for livestreaming home boys and girls basketball games in Sibley.

SIBLEY—Sibley-Ocheyedan High School students are learning about technology, communication and workplace skills by livestreaming home boys and girls basketball games online for the 2018-19 season.

The high school is in its fourth year of livestreaming home events in Sibley through YouTube, but has not had students take the time to be announcers before.

“We’ve always tried to get students to do it in the past,” said Sibley-Ocheyedan technology director Tony Bevers. “We’ve usually just had one or two kids — generally one kid — running a camera.”

At the start of this academic year, he sent out a blanket e-mail to all high school students to see whether anyone was interested in helping livestream home events, in­­cluding athletic contests, musical concerts and plays.

The group of interested students is a mixture of seniors — Cody Dykstra, Tanner Dykstra, Joshua Nobles, Jesse Schaff, Carson Van Westen and Ben Wollmuth — and freshmen — Mitchel Groote and Jacob Nobles.

Van Westen has taken the lead with the livestreaming of Sibley-Ocheyedan’s home events, especially the basketball games, by setting up the stream for YouTube and making sure everything is ready to go when the contests start.

“He’s the one that’s brought in the most people,” Bevers said. “He’s the first one that came in and talked to me about it.

“Our core group is all sen­iors, so we’re trying to slowly recruit some younger classes so when they graduate, we can kind of keep the ball rolling,” he said.

The livestreaming of home basketball games includes the use of three cameras, including two looking down at the basketball court inside the high school gym.

“Two cameras — they pan back and forth across the floor so they can shoot from different locations,” Bevers said. “We have one camera fixed on the scoreboard so that’s just an overlay on the stream. That’s always visible. It just gets a little more sophisticated just about every time they do it because they’re always adding new features.”

The students have set up a work chart for the livestreaming of each home basketball game at Sibley-Ocheyedan.

“They already know who’s running the cameras, who’s running the computers,” Bevers said. “They set out what each individual job is for that game, and each person either selects what they want to be or they’re assigned a position. They know well in advance exactly what the game plan is.”

In addition to the positions of camera operators, there are game announcers and statistics keepers.

“They take care of a lot of stats and they make sure those stats are available for the commentators,” Bevers said of the freshmen. “That information is all right there. They’ve built quite a system.”

The system has three primary pieces of technology, including an Apple iPad. He credited the Sibley-Ocheyedan Athletic Boosters for their help with providing livestreaming equipment and supporting the students.

“The iPad is connected to a monitor that only shows stats, so when those guys are taking stats, those stats instantly show up for the announcers to view and use during the game,” Bevers said.

Schaff spends a majority of his time on the streaming computer, posting graphics and stats on the feed for viewers and making sure the scoreboard is visible at all times.

“We have a second computer that is used just for streaming the game,” Bevers said. “The three cameras feed into that machine. That’s what actually pushes the stream out to our district YouTube channel.

“We’ve got a third machine that they use just for social networks,” he said. “They’re constantly posting updates to Twitter, to Facebook. If there are comments, they’re responding to those.”

Bevers originally planned to sit down with the students and teach them how to use the livestreaming equipment as well as supervise them through the first few basketball games at the start of this season before letting them go out on their own.

He ended up playing more of a supporting role, working to make sure the students receive what they need to keep improving.

“I didn’t have to sit with them for a single game,” Bevers said. “They took the reins and they just took over. This is an exceptional group of kids. They’ve done a tremendous job. It gets better every week.”