“I didn’t realize they were students.”
“I thought the school hired professional commentators.”
These are sentiments that have been expressed several times by Crusader basketball fans throughout the last few months. “Althoff Catholic is a place where kids can present their ideas and be empowered to implement them,” said Greg Leib, Athletic Director and head basketball coach. The Crusader Broadcasting Network (CBN) began when Jack Guthrie ‘18 (a transfer student from an all-boys school in St. Louis), witnessed Althoff Catholic’s state championship run last year. “About a month after the win, I went to Coach Leib and asked if I would be able to live stream and commentate the games [next season],” said Jack. “Coach Leib was very supportive of the idea and pointed us in the right direction to get things off the ground.”
Jack asked his good friend from St. Teresa Grade School to join him as a commentator. “Colin Forhan ‘18 and I used to pretend we were announcers on the playground when playing any sport. It is something we have been interested in for a long time,” said Jack. Once Jack recruited his partner in commentating, they got together with the school’s technology director, Nathan Walter, and learned how to use the equipment and the live stream program. Jack and Colin recruited another fellow St. Teresa classmate, John Lewis ‘18 to do the camera work. “Working behind the camera has been a blast,” said John. “I really enjoy covering all the action and being able to say that I’m behind the camera.”
The Crusader Broadcasting Network officially launched at the Highland Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament on November 22, 2016. The crew has been averaging 1,000 viewers per game which has been a pleasant surprise for them and for the team. “Coach Leib cannot believe the number of viewers that join us at each game,” said Jack. “On the bus ride home, Coach always asks about our numbers. He shared with us that his brother watches from Flora, Illinois, his hometown. That is a huge honor for us.”
“Being able to bring Althoff Catholic basketball to people who are not able to make the games is very meaningful,” said Colin. “Ever since the first game, we have been putting highlight clips on Twitter. There is a mutual respect between the team and the Crusader Broadcasting Network.” Jordan Goodwin ’17 was in the same boat as many fans when the Crusader Broadcasting Network first started, “At first I did not believe they were students,” said Jordan. “The guys are very professional, and they know us better than anyone. They come to our practices and share stats with us. CBN has the respect of the whole team.” On the bus ride home, Jordan has been known to ask, “Did you say ‘bang, bang’ (Jack Guthrie’s catchphrase) after all my three pointers?”
These last few months have been a huge learning opportunity for Jack, Colin and John. “Bringing the excitement of Althoff Catholic basketball to people online is just amazing,” said Jack. CBN has experienced some minor setbacks on the technical side of the live stream. Working to understand how to make best use of The Cube, a complimentary live stream provider for schools, and a somewhat outdated laptop to the best of their abilities is CBN’s goal. In the future, the students hope to obtain a more up-to-date laptop and to secure funding needed to move to the IHSA recommended National Federation of High School’s live stream program.
While the overall viewer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, CBN has received some criticism via social media. “We hardly see any negative feedback, when we do we all talk together before responding,” said John. “We all know, social media can make or destroy your image, so we are very careful.”
“I think there are a lot of people out there who are just beginning to realize these are high school juniors doing the broadcasting,” said Principal Dave Harris. “I have had alumni and other friends of the school comment on how professional the kids are. One night they received feedback about being too loud, and there being trouble with the connection on The Cube. People have been very impressed with the professionalism and maturity shown by the boys in addressing these issues. The passion the Crusader Broadcasting Network has for our school, their fellow students and their viewers is something very special.”
Jack, Colin and John hope to expand CBN beyond boys’ basketball. On January 4th, they successfully broadcasted their first girls’ basketball game. The boys also have a goal to create a succession plan for CBN after they graduate next year. “We had a sports writer tell us that we were the best student broadcasters he has ever watched and that we sounded like professionals, not just high school students,” said Jack. “We believe CBN is something special and that it has the potential to grow and benefit the school in multiple ways.”
Jack Guthrie ’18 is passionate about music. His future goals include attending the Recording Connection Audio Institute in Chicago and eventually having a job in audio engineering. Jack says Althoff Catholic is helping prepare him for the future because no matter the subject, teachers want students to develop critical thinking skills which can be used in all aspects of life. Jack’s favorite thing about Althoff Catholic is the smaller class sizes and the teachers being able to provide more one-on-one attention.
Colin Forhan ’18 says the family atmosphere and theology classes are his favorite thing about Althoff Catholic. He appreciates that his parents have sent him to Catholic schools for his entire life. Colin is interested in attending Fordham University or TCU. Both schools have strong communications and sports broadcasting programs.
John Lewis ’18 most enjoys his Honors English class at Althoff Catholic. He plays basketball and soccer and is involved in Crusaders Against Alcohol and Drugs, Crusaders Take Action, and Student Ambassadors. John’s dream college is University of Michigan, but he is also looking into University of Illinois and a few other local schools. John’s favorite thing about Althoff Catholic is the people.