EBN edges out competition with new type of ‘home field advantage’

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By James Grant
Eagle Staff

The scoreboard glowered 30 minutes until kickoff. It was an evil digital hourglass, with its LED grains

of sand clicking the pregame time down to zero.

No Internet. No power. Just black.

The thought of not going live became a distinct possibility.

And that is when they dug in their heels and refused to take no for an answer.

“It was a heart-racing moment indeed,” Assistant Director of Technology John Michael Cuccia said.

“Our extension cords were missing, and we had no Internet signal. Adrenaline was high and there

became a real concern as to whether we’d get everything going in enough time.”

Ten minutes pass.

Replacement extension cords arrive, camera platforms get set, the equipment tower finally flickers to

life.

The scoreboard laughed: 14 minutes – you will never make it.

“Once we had our gear powered up, we couldn’t get an Internet signal,” Cuccia said. “It was bizarre,

like many tech problems turn out to be.”

Even more frustrating, this was not the first rodeo for the Eagle Broadcast Network.

“We broadcasted last year’s graduation exercises online, so we knew it could be done,” Cuccia said.

“The setup was nearly identical. It didn’t make sense. Finding that needle in the haystack is nerve-

racking, especially when the clock is ticking.”

No kidding. It seemed like there would be a loss that Sept. 19 night even before the guys with the

helmets took the field.

“It would have been a serious letdown,” said Cuccia, of the possibility of not broadcasting. “We

invested too much time and energy to consider giving up. It almost became a matter of willing it to be

done.”

And that is when it came down to the make-or-break moment.

The clock burned like the sun.

“We hit about the eight minute mark,” Cuccia said, “and we had to take a risk.”

With surgical precision among the spaghetti of cords, he reached for a single gray cable and pulled it

from its socket, waited and replaced it.

Fuzz, static, blinking lights. A piece of equipment in the mobile EBN rack flashed through a self-test.

Seven minutes, the clock taunted.

And then came perhaps even sweeter words that night than “Eagles Win.” Red letters on one of the

monitors morphed to green: “NOW CONNECTED.”

The LED lights on the scoreboard crumbled, outshined by the new glow emanating from the

broadcast tent.

No time to celebrate that small win, though.

With a quick rally of the crew over wireless headsets and a countdown from EBN Moderator Lance

Dundee, users at home watched as their screen faded in from black to the first-ever live view of Eagle

football from Granger Stadium, complete with ESPN-style on-screen scoreboard graphics.

EBN’s small victory on the sidelines proved to be an indicator for the rest of the night, with the Eagles

taking down the Knights from Episcopal High School in a nail-biting 23-21 victory to improve their

record to 4-0.

All around, it was a cardiac evening for Eagles of all types: players, coaches, crew and spectators.

The debut was a success and received great reviews and many thumbs up from a variety of members

of the community, from teachers and staff to students and alumni.

The overall success from the first football broadcast is a testimony to not only the hard work put in by

the EBN crew but also the classy commentary and anchoring of the game done by Assistant Director

of Athletics Rev. Jim Murphy, CSB, and Nick Tammaro ’02.

Keeping the viewers in the game and caught up with all of the action unfolding on the field is no piece

of cake.

They delivered exciting and attention-grabbing commentary from kickoff until the Alma Mater.

Even past the start-up glitches, it was no walk in the park to keep the broadcast running smoothly.

“There was no down time for the crew,” Dundee said. “It was go, go, go.”

The nine-member crew started setting up, unrolling cable, connecting monitors and checking to see

that all of the equipment was up and running right after the pep rally that Friday.

“There was a lot of hustling going on,” junior Thomas Quintero said. “Everybody was really excited to

get out there, and it was really something remarkable.”

Quintero says the best part was hearing from all the guys who could not be at Granger Stadium but

were able to catch the action on EBN.

“I loved hearing those stories, and I know that will keep us going,” Quintero said.

Some of the things the crew is excited about for the future are mobile cameras, better texting for the

on-screen presentation and instant replay.

“It was a real thrill,” Cuccia said, “and we’ve only just begun.”

EBN will broadcast the remaining home football games this season, with more events to come as the

year progresses.

 

 

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James Grant is a senior at St. Thomas.

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