Resources | The WCM Quarterly | Three media access centers collaborate to cover state high school rugby tourney
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Monday, August 08, 2016 03:33 PM

Three media access centers collaborate to cover state high school rugby tourney

The Oregon-Stoughton High School Rugby Club struggles for the ball in this photograph from the state tournament held in Cottage Grove.
By Paul Zwicker
This spring, the coach of the Oregon-Stoughton High School Rugby Club asked me if I could produce and televise the 2016 Wisconsin State High School Boys Rugby Championships to be held in Cottage Grove.  I was happy to take on the project.  After all, I was the assistant coach, I had 30+ years of video experience, and I was the new Program Manager of Oregon Cable Access (OCA Media).First, hoping to get the largest audience possible, I researched what it would cost to have the games produced and aired by a local broadcast station.  The quotes came back in the $2,000 range.  In order to afford that, I’d need underwriting.  After investing some hours on the phone, I realized I wouldn’t be able to come up with enough funds. 
I decided to turn to my second option:  cable access television.  This posed a different set of challenges.  I could produce and direct the games, but I would need a crew – quick.  I was looking around for skilled crewmembers when I found out I had gotten a job as a live camera operator for a bicycle race in Philadelphia the same weekend as the rugby tournament!
In a bit of a pickle, I reached out to my fellow Dane County WCM member media centers for assistance and was pleasantly surprised to find them so willing to help! 
So, here’s how we succeeded in covering the games:  Before I left town, I did as much pre-production as possible.  I built a rain shelter for two high angle camera positions on a scissors lift donated by a local construction company and I cobbled together an announcer’s shelter in the bleachers.  Knowing that any pair of a hundred rugby cleats could cut through a power cable on the ground, we strung power overhead to a camper donated by a local rugby player to use as an operations base.
Andrew Day, WMCF McFarland’s technical specialist and the part-time cable coordinator of Cottage Grove’s media access center, agreed to manage and direct the production.  The rest of the crew was Justin Janness, Kelly Logan, Patrick Moran, and Ryan Denzer also from WMCF, James Wyngard from Stoughton Cable Access, and Tom Kirchdoerfer from OCA Media.  I went off to Philly, thrilled to have pulled it off and wondering how the collaboration would go!
Rugby teams from across the state played a full day of round-robin games.  Then storm predictions put the late afternoon schedule at risk. Andrew had to have everyone in position early in case the two final games were moved up.  As a result, the crew had a lot of time to rehearse shots and they were more than ready once coverage began – at its regularly scheduled time! 
I made a few anxious calls from Philly at the end of my long workday, but I needn’t have worried. Thanks to the amazing cooperation between OCA Media, WMCF and WSTO, and WCM’s network of media access centers, residents across the state will be able to view complete, high quality coverage of the 2016 Wisconsin State High School DI & DII Rugby Championships!