Sheyenne Mustang Media showing athletes a new way to view the games they love
The group formed just a couple years ago, but already has more than 50 students helping with broadcasts.
WEST FARGO — Getting on the basketball court gives Sheyenne's Jaxson Miller a sense of normalcy.
"Basketball was the first sport, I instantly fell in love with it," Miller said. "I think I first touched a basketball when I was four years old."
Most of the sophomore's winter is concentrated on basketball. Half of the time, however, is spent in the stands doing something he didn't think was possible entering high school.
"The interest was definitely there," Miller said.
Miller is one of the play-by-play broadcasters for Sheyenne Media Mustang's coverage of Mustang games throughout the year, from basketball to football to soccer and everything in between.
"Aaron Knodel (group leader) reached out to me," he remembered. "Sheyenne had a game a couple of years ago against Devils Lake, and he goes, ‘Do you want to call the game with me?' I was like, ‘I might as well give it a try.’"
The group has grown from just Knodel, Jaxson, and producer and director of broadcasting Jacob Fisher to more 50 students broadcasting or helping with more than 100 Mustang games in a school year.
Those duties include shooting games, making graphics for broadcasts, social media, photography and writing.
"More students started to get interested as they saw the work we were doing," Fisher, a junior, said. "From just a small program, with just Ipads to 4K cameras, from editing stuff on iMovie on iPad to professional, Adobe suit stuff helps us and helps support the school."
Plenty of those students helping out are athletes who have a moment away from practice and games or are out of season.
"As a kid I’d always commentate by myself playing in the driveway," Miller said. "Like most kids do, they talk to themselves, they dream of hitting the game winning shot. So I’ve had a lot of natural practice."
"He asked me, ‘We need thumbnails, lower thirds, hype videos,’" Aiden Knodel, who plays football and basketball at Sheyenne, said. "All that stuff is kind of what’s on my plate and the stuff I like to do."
For athletes like Jaxson and Aiden, going from the floor to the booth or the computer has given them a completely new perspective on the games they love to play.
"When I make hype videos and people are like that just gave me goosebumps, it makes me feel really good about myself," Knodel said. "That’s the effect you’re going for, that’s what sports are all about."
"We get such unique and valuable perspectives from what it means to be a sports player," Fisher said. "Today, people want to have that unique sports identification, they want to know the players."
Most athletes know their playing days will one day come to an end. For Jaxson, Sheyenne Mustang Media is giving him a chance to see he can still be around the sport he loves when those days arrive.
"I would say that’s the best part. Doing it both ways, it’s just a win-win for everyone," he said.