A Week in Review

24 05 2010

It’s been a while since I posted; I’ve been super busy between school ending, moving into a new house, and the spring sports season at KECI.  But here’s some of what I’ve been up to:


I traveled up to Polson to cover the Missoula Mavericks taking on the Mission Mariners in a non-conference legion baseball matchup.  Needless to say the game went to the Mavericks, who 10-runned Mission 14-4 in the contest and improved to 21-1 on the season.  Having played legion baseball myself, I was surprised Missoula’s AA was even playing Mission at this point in the season, since Mission is in the A conference and thus extremely outmatched by Missoula’s AA.  Brody Miller was 4-6 from the plate for the Mavs with a double, a home run and 5 RBIs in the game.


I quickly covered a couple of early round B-C girls state tennis matches here in Missoula.  Being my third time shooting tennis, I’m starting to get comfortable with it (just in time for tennis season to be over of course).  The trick isn’t the difficulty of shooting the action since obviously the game takes place in a fairly small confinement.  The trick is staying aware of who is playing who, which matches are the most important, and keeping track of what the games and sets are at.  By now I’m a lot more confident with those aspects of covering the sport, hence it’s a rather easy/relaxing activity to shoot on a nice sunny day.  However Thursday was not so nice… I only got about 30 minutes of footage before the courts were cleared for a rain delay.

At this point Kayla and I headed to Sentinel High School to catch the 3rd game of a playoff series between Sentinel and Hellgate; the winner of which punched their ticket to the state tournament.  After losing the first game 5-4, the Spartan bats awakend in the second game as they mercy ruled the Knights 18-1 in 5 innings.  It was more Sentinel dominance when I got to third game, as they’d need only 6 innings to take down Hellgate 11-1.  The win gets the Spartan softball squad to the state tournament for the first time since 2005.  Jamie Jo Kallis had a heck of series on the day for Sentinel, she went 9-11 from the plate with 6 RBIs, 4 of which were the result of her grand slam in the second game.


Friday I took a trip all the way up to Thompson Falls to cover the semifnals of the Western B-C Divsional softball tournament, the winners of which would clinch state softball tournament positions.  I was there for the entire first game between the Loyola Breakers and Mission Bulldogs; Loyola is the most prominent class B softball team we cover (in terms of viewership, geography). Although Loyola won the regular season conference title, they were playing without their star catcher and power hitter Alex Hughes, who was not yet medically cleared to play after receiving a concussion at a tournament in Butte the week before.  The game was a tight 2-1 contest throught the first four innings but then Loyola pulled away in the final three innings, winning by a final of 7-3 and securing their state tournament berth.

I could only stay for the first three innings of the next semifinal between the Florence Falcons and the hometown Thompson Falls Lady Bluehawks but I saw enough.  Lady Bluehawks pitching ace Kyla Molzhon is the most dominant western montana picther I’ve seen this year, she struck out six Falcons through just the first three innings… her squad needed just a lone run in the fifth to beat Florence 1-0 in the game.


I covered three championship matches at the class B-C state tennis tournament.  The boys singles championship match was the only one I covered that went three sets.  Spencer Ahlborn of St. Ignatius defeated Bridger Mahlum from Bigfork 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.  The politness between the two really threw me for a loop, especially when a state title is on the line.  They complimented each other every game for impressive serves and returns.  It was nonetheless refreshing, and in no way deterred from the competitiveness of the match.  Ahlborn was very athletic playing close to the net and charged it every opportunity he had, which made it fitting that his match point came off of a dominant overhead smash at the net.  This was Ahlborn’s third victory over Mahlum in four meetings.


Beautiful Day for Sports

11 04 2010

April 10, 2010

Spring weather in Montana is as indecisive as it gets.  Whereas it was freezing cold and snowing yesterday, today was perfectly sunny and warm all day.  Thank goodness it was too since I shot outside for five hours this afternoon.

My first stop was at Loyola’s softball field to catch a couple innings of the Breakers facing Eureka/Troy.  This was actually my first time ever shooting softball… it’s harder than I thought.  It’s tough to follow the ball cleanly off of the bat looking through lens that is in black and white.  I can only hope I get much better before baseball season rolls in.  I left after the second inning as Loyola jumped out to a 8-0 lead.  It wasn’t so much that Loyola was knocking the crap out of the ball, but they were making consistent contact and Eureka’s fielders had all sorts of throwing errors that were leading to runs for the Breakers.  Loyola ended up winning the game 10-3.

After that, I headed to Washington Grizzly Stadium to join Kayla at the Grizzly football scrimmage.  The team looked good, especially offensively.  Coach Pflugrad has definitely changed up the offensive scheme as we knew he would.  There was a lot of no huddle and the play ratio was very pass-heavy.  There were quite a few end around and reverse type plays when we did run the ball.  Jabin Sambrano looked sharp and should be quite the playmaker for us next season.  Bryce Carver also looked like a bright spot in my opinion.  For a little guy, he made a number of athletic plays as wide receiver and I can see him getting a lot of snaps next year.  The only conundrum I saw was that Chase Reynolds didn’t get any action.  It appears Pflugrad didn’t want to play him today as he tests out players at new positions… then again I suppose Reynolds won’t need as many repetitions when we’ll be running a spread offense aerial attack with some draws, screens and reverses.

After the scrimmage we interviewed Dodson, Sambrano, Selle, and Coach Pflugrad.   It was nice to hear each of the players being honest and optimistic about the transitions of coaching staff and play-book structure that they’ve dealt with so far this off-season.  It truly appears that the team is coming together and finding its new identity.

After the scrimmage I shot an actual football game in Washington Grizzly… the Missoula Phoenix taking on the Glacier Knights in Rocky Mountain Football League (RMFL) action.  I could only stay for the first half.  While I was there, the Phoenix jumped out to a 12-0 lead as a result of a pair of deep touchdown passes.  The Phoenix ended up winning the game by a final of 18-13, improving their record to 1-1 on the season.

After all that fun in the sun, I finally returned to the station just after six o’clock to edit my footage for the 10 o’clock news.  All in all a very productive day in shooting new sports and watching our football team evolve before my eyes.

Spring is in the Air

25 03 2010

March 24, 2010

This week of work has definitely been causing my mindset to transition into the swing of spring.

Monday I covered the first day of full pads for the Montana Grizzly football team’s “spring ball”.  Shooting football in March certainly felt confusing… the weather didn’t help at all either.  Every five minutes went from borderline blizzard to eye-blindingly sunny.  As difficult as it is to dress and cope with such conditions physically, shooting video in this kind of weather is equally draining.  Every time the sun disappeared and it would start raining, I’d have to turn the camera’s filter down from two to one or none.  I’d also have to re-iris the shot for lighting and re-white balance for crisp color.  Not to mention I shielded the camera with my coat to prevent any water damage.  Of course  minutes later the sun would come out and I’d reverse all of these steps again in order to get a usable picture.   After about three hours of shooting B-roll of various drills and scrimmaging, I finally got to interview defensive tackle Tyler Hobbs and newly appointed head coach Robin Pflugrad.  Today was my first time meeting and interviewing the coach… I’m sure it will be far from my last.  Coach Pflugrad wasn’t in a particularly chatty mood as he articulated that the day hadn’t been the best practice session he’s seen out of his players.  Hobbs emphasized that the team is still finding its way.  Besides the rust of winter, the players are facing many changes in coaching staff and thus changes in specific expectations of the players.  Although it felt exciting to be shooting Montana football again in Washington Grizzly Stadium… I had to remind myself that this was just a tease.  After all it is just March, competitive collegiate football is almost half a year away.

What isn’t far away in the world of sports is softball season.  Kayla and I attended two high school softball practices today to gear up for high school softball season which is less than a couple weeks away.  We got footage and interviews at both Missoula Loyola’s pratice and Missoula Hellgate’s.  The weather today was consistently warm, sunny and great for a change.  It really felt like spring outside and seeing softball practice reinforced the transition into the spring sporting season that is upon us.  I’m nervous/anxious/excited for trying my hand at filming a new batch of sports as the season approaches.  It’s becoming apparent that spring has arrived.

Unexpected Barn-Burner

18 02 2010

February 17, 2010

It’s normally fitting to expect a 3-seed and a 6-seed to play each other fairly tightly.  However, this was not something I was expecting when I walked into a Districts quarterfinal match between the 2-16 Superior Bobcats and the 13-5 Missoula Valley Christian Eagles in Hamilton, Montana.  I’d explain my reasoning but my argument was well-stated when I mentioned the teams’ records just now.

The game started out exactly as I pictured, as the Eagles jumped out to a quick 22-6 lead.  However, the Bobcats began to scratch and claw the lead away during the second quarter.  The lucky bounces seemed to be blessed upon the Bobcats tonight as they were able to cash in on many second chance points while out-rebounding their opponent 43-24.  In fact, Superior was able to pull within 6 points at 25-19 before vacating the court for halftime.

The second half of action, and particularly the final quarter, was as close as any basketball fan can hope for.  Nearly every basket down the stretch caused a tie or lead change.  Every possession become more and more precious and every second gone made the mood more and more tense.

In the final climactic moments of the matchup, Superior in-bounded with just 20 seconds to go, down by two points.  Eric Steinebach, who had just hit a pivotal three moments earlier to give Superior a lead, threw up an awkward jumper that didn’t fall.  Teammate Ryan Bowers, who finished the game with 16 rebounds, grabbed the offensive board and converted the layup to tie the game up at 47 with just 12 seconds to go.

However just one quick breath later, Valley Christian’s Andrew Schmautz gets fouled while receiving the inbounds pass… taking him to the charity stripe for two attempts.  With ice in his veins, Schmautz drilled both his shots to put the Eagles on top 49-47.  The Bobcats were unable to even get a desperation shot off, turning the ball over out of bounds as they raced down the court.

A Bobcats squad that had suffered such an unimpressive season had been just one play away from making a very impressive upset… however at the end of the night the final score had to label a gutsy and heart-broken Superior team as the contest’s inferior team, as is the only duty a scoreboard knows.   The Bobcats can surely expect greener pastures in future seasons as they move forward.

As for Valley Christian, they are still puffing sighs of relief over their near-loss on the court today.  Short-term memory is a must for the Eagles however, as they will face an extremely talented 17-1 Florence Falcons squad in tomorrow night’s semifinal.

St. Ignatius Rollercoaster

15 02 2010

February 12, 2010

When I set out on my trek to St. Ignatius Thursday night, I had no idea how many twists would indeed be in store for me.

Before I even got to leave the station I was informed that I would have to be shooting with a small camera [a pain in the butt for shooting sporting events, compared to the bigger on-the-shoulder cameras] due to the death of one of our station’s only three large cameras… twist number one.

Luckily I managed to easily find the gymnasium which I had never been too before.  Unfortunately, I walked into it at a sharp 7:30 expecting the boys’ game vs. Plains to be getting underway… when in actuality I was witnessing the beginning of the fourth quarter of action in the girls game.  Slightly disappointed (twist number two) at the delay I would be facing until the game I needed started, I parked myself into the stands.

This delay meant I would not have time to cover the game in Frenchtown tonight, so as the girls game drew to an end so did I draw out my weapon of media… in hopes that some type of exciting finish to the contest would deem it worthy of taking the spot of the previously assigned Frenchtown game for the 10:00 news.

An exciting finish is exactly what I got.  As the final seconds of the clock ticked to an end, the Plains girls drove down the court with just enough time for one last desperation shot.  With approximately two seconds left on the clock, a girl dropped an 18-footer to knot the game up at 32 (a score you’d expect on the gridiron… not the hardwood).  This buzzer-beating shot was the single biggest game-changing moment I’d captured yet this season in high school sports (twist number three), albeit not on the grandest stage of action.

At this point I had to call my sports director Jake to inform him of the major delay.  However due to our station being the Olympic-hosting NBC affiliate, he informed me that the opening ceremonies would push our newscast back an extra hour… thus the delay really wasn’t unmanageable (twist number four).  To overtime they went.  Once again I waited to film until the final seconds.  This time, Mission’s post converted a lay-in to tie the game at 37 with just 10 seconds to go.  However, she butchered the free throw attempt in a dramatic air-ball fashion… to double overtime we go.

In the final seconds of now double OT, a Mission post-player knocked down two free throws to give her squad a two-point lead.  This time Plains was unable to get off a desperation shot, and Mission prevailed by the final of 42-40.

I stuck around long enough to get three highlight shots from the opening seconds of the boys game and then get back in the jeep to start the 45-minute journey back to the station.  Once back, I edited the two games into just two-shot highlight sequences.  [Unfortunately some nights’ casts are so loaded I can only get the essence of the game in with two shots.  Other nights with more media-deserving high school teams and games I can get up to four or five.  And when shooting Griz athletics I can be awarded a bountiful number of up to 10 highlights.]

Remember the thrilling buzzer-beater that sent the girls game into overtime?  Well, the tape had glitched at just that point and I couldn’t use the shot (twist number five).  I have Jake look at the tape with me and there’s nothing that can be done.  Literally the most dramatic moment I’d captured in my young career of high-school shooting… and it’s useless.  Jake gives me a sympathetic shake of the head.  The single second of all my night’s footage that I desired to have was the single second of all the night’s footage that the tape had destroyed… maybe it was karma… maybe I unknowingly upset the gods of technology.