WINDSOR, Colorado — During the time when the crowds could not come to games, Windsor High School created something new with teacher Mike Vasa.
"Last year, with the pandemic starting and parents not being able to watch their kids and friends not being able to watch their friends play, my athletic director, Eric Johnson, asked is there any way you can broadcast games?" Vasa said.
The Windsor Wizards Broadcasting Network was born in October 2020.
"Myself and three other students did our first broadcast out of a science window at a softball game that was a thousand yards away just to see what we could do and see what we could come up with," Vasa said.
Since then, the production value has improved and Senior Keegan Shepherd joined the high school club as a game commentator.
"We got cameramen and everything. We just show what's going on. We try our hardest to replicate professional broadcasts with the equipment we have," Shepherd said.
Before he got behind the microphone, Shepherd said he was something else.
"I mean like I was the worst student you could imagine like I was loud, disruptive," Shepherd said.
Now, he said broadcasting games on their own YouTube Channel has given him a reason to care about school and about sports.
"I know a lot about it and I'm not very athletic," Shepherd said. "So, I feel I can put my knowledge to better use if I'm talking about it."
Vasa said students needed something like this during the pandemic.
"It was the silver lining to a rough school year and to a tough time for students. It gave us something to focus on, Vasa said.
Sophomore Maddie Howell joined because she likes the idea of connecting families through professional-looking broadcasts with multiple cameras and graphics.
"We're just doing a small thing that is really big to us and it's really big to the town around us," Howell said.
Clayton Davidson is a senior who serves as the broadcast director, selecting what shots are put on the air live.
"It does get a little nerve-wracking," Davidson said. "But, as time goes on you get used to it and you just go with the flow."
Senior Ayele Mazurana wanted to try something different.
"I have not done this before and I am actually very honored with an opportunity to be able to do this," Mazurana said.
He never imagined a chance to announce a game like the pros do in high school.
"I didn't know at all that they had this and I think it's a great opportunity for kids who are trying to go into sports media," Mazurana said.
The club will be an on official class next year teaching students how to put on a professional sports broadcast.
"It gives us the opportunity to kind of get a head start on if you want a career in this. It gives us that experience with that," Davidson said.
Howell never imagined she would join a high school club till this came around.
"It's more like including everyone who can't be included sometimes," Howell said.
Shepherd, the self-proclaimed wayward student, never imagined finding direction. He now wants to go to college to study broadcasting.
"When this started, I was like man, I kinda have like what I want to do in life. I got to start actually putting my effort, my best foot forward. I got my first straight-A semester in my entire life ever, last semester," Shepherd said.
Vasa said that's welcome news.
"I didn't even know that," Vasa said. "I didn't know he was getting straight-As. I knew he was a struggling student."
But, life changed when Windsor created something new.
"If we didn't have the need to put on a broadcast for the parents to watch at home, I wouldn't be doing this and I wouldn't know what I want to do," Shepherd said.
Life changed during the pandemic because it had to.
"I mean that what teaching is all about, right, what we're supposed to do is to help our students find that pathway and to totally open up a totally new pathway for all of the students who are involved," Vasa said. "Very satisfying."
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