October 28, 2006

The Elks Head to the Northwest!!!

This information is taken from the Traverse City Record-Eagle. I never thought I would include a picture of Greg Hamilton on my blog. It's a crazy world and that's an inside joke. Link to the Record-Eagle right here.

'It's a small thing for us to set this up'

Technology allows Elks fans to see game

By CRAIG McCOOL, Record-Eagle staff writer

ELK RAPIDS — Janet Greening didn't miss a football game — home or away — all season.

But when the Elk Rapids High Elks drew Menominee in their first-round playoff tilt, Greening saw no way to make the 600-mile round-trip trek to the western Upper Peninsula for this afternoon's game.

"There's just a lot of people who can't do that trip," said Greening, who has a son of the team. "If it was two or three hours away and you could do it in a day, I think the whole town would go."

The whole town doesn't have to. Fans merely have to turn out at the high school, where the game is set to be Webcast live on a big screen.

It's a tech experiment conceived by a football fan and the owners of a local Internet service provider.

"There was this brainstorm of, 'what if we could do a Webcam?' People know we have the capability to make this happen," said Tim Maylone of Maylone Enterprises Inc. "What the football team did this year was phenomenal. It's a small thing for us to set this up."

The Elks went 6-3 this year — their first winning season in a decade — to earn the school's first-ever trip to the football playoffs. Two charter buses filled with players, coaches, cheerleaders and a few dozen parents and fans left Elk Rapids Friday afternoon.

Those who weren't part of the caravan are welcome to watch the game live in the school auditorium.

The show will include interviews and play-by-play, all broadcast in real time. Local resident and Elks fan Terry Miller dreamed it up early this week.

"I couldn't believe they had to travel so far to play. This is farther away than Detroit, " said Miller, a retired Elk Rapids teacher.

"By doing this in the auditorium, we can get a good rah-rah atmosphere going on. My assumption is there will be a lot of people."

The game starts at 2 p.m. today, Eastern Standard Time; Menominee, just about 50 miles north of Green Bay, Wis., is an hour behind Elk Rapids, "which gives an idea of how far away it really is," Miller said.

A special camera with a built-in computer server will feed images — as many as 24 frames per second — to Elk Rapids through Menominee's broadband connection.

An MEI employee will run the camera through the Menominee press box, Maylone said, and an Elk Rapids parent is set to call the game. Company officials conducted a dry run this week.

"For something we pulled together in two-and-a-half days, it was phenomenally good. I was shocked," Maylone said. "The quality of the picture from the press box will be the same view as if you were sitting in the press box. It's going to be almost TV quality."

Maylone's firm donated the equipment and the time, though the area Rotary Club is paying for his employee's gas and lodging, he said. There is no charge to watch today's game at the high school.

School officials said they have no idea how many people to expect, because the Webcast came together so quickly. Greening, for one, will be there.

"When I found out they were having the simulcast, I thought it was awesome," she said. "I think there will be a lot of people there, if they know about it."

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