Bringing high school games into the kitchen

Updated 1/11/2012 10:26 PM

In each of his first two years at Naperville Central, Eric Perales attended one Redhawks football game. Last fall he saw all but one home game.

Kelly Schatz is way into sports -- though she admits "if it has a horse I haven't done it" -- but has gained a new appreciation for them.

Claire Halffield's early professional aspirations ran the gamut from CIA agent to pastry chef. Now she's entertaining broadcasting.

These Naperville Central juniors are among the 20-strong crew of students bringing a variety of interests and abilities to Bob Linkowski's "Hawk TV" broadcasting club. Since partnering with PlayON! Sports' School Broadcasting Program last summer Hawk TV has produced more than 20 programs streamed to the Internet.

The 18 shows viewable include a post-9/11 tribute and an informational spot on accessing student email. Mainly it's sports-heavy programming, from a pom competition to wrestling, girls volleyball and football, football, football.

"When sports were involved, more people joined," said Linkowski, a multiple-degreed Burr Ridge resident who taught at Chicago State University and Joliet Junior College. His title at Naperville Central is media analyst.

"I have a bachelor's and a master's in (broadcasting), so for me, I want them to do things right," said Linkowski, who meets with students twice a week to pick their mind about news and sports programming and enhance involvement in the different aspects -- computer operation, graphic design, commentary, camera work.

"We have a saying, 'We're world class,' and I won't accept anything less," Linkowski said. "So they'll tell you, the audio's going to be right, the scores are going to be right. I want articulation, pronunciation, no jargon. When we're doing the graphics, make sure it's correct for the school."

Naperville Central is one of several hundred high schools nationally including 12 in Illinois -- Naperville North and Immaculate Conception are the other locals -- to have adopted the PlayON! media management platform which, as Linkowski said, "gets you off campus to the world."

A PlayON! laptop computer outfitted with a video capture device sends the signal from camera to the Internet, with unlimited memory for a multitude of programming either streamed live or archived for video on demand. The package includes graphic software for lineups, logos, scores, timeouts and such.

The company, which charges an annual fee, has also partnered with the Illinois High School Association to form the IHSA Network and IHSA-TV that produces state championship events. PlayON! works with 15 state associations.

David Rudolph, president and CEO of the Atlanta-based company, believes that within the next decade every high school sporting event will be produced and distributed via television, Internet streaming, smart phones or whatever leap technology takes next. He praised Naperville Central as an "early adopter."

"As the cost to produce video content has come down and the tools have become more attainable, more and more kids want to learn the tricks and the tools to how you produce really good content," Rudolph said.

Thus possible career generation.

"They're learning life skills that, if they choose a career in video practices, it's going to be very applicable," Rudolph said. "We're hoping we're training our next workforce."

Halffield, whose expertise is computers, got hooked not only on sports but also helping broadcast them.

"After a football game one time there was a Comcast truck and we all got to tour the truck because they were recording the game," said the once-aspiring pastry chef/CIA agent. "I could actually see myself doing this for the rest of my life."

Perales -- an excellent cameraman, Linkowski said -- said the experience "opens up so many doors." Schatz, who plays soccer with the Fox Valley Strikers, said that since she joined Hawk TV she's thought about the computer aspects of production -- and possible advertising opportunities therein.

"When I saw this it was kind of like, hmm?" she said.

Right now, though, Hawk TV has combined both the sports-minded and some new converts for the benefit of Naperville Central Nation, which can watch their heroes from another country or from right down the street.

"Principal (Bill) Wiesbrook was like, 'I couldn't go to the game so I watched it in my kitchen,'" Perales said.

"He was just amazed how with two people and Bob and a computer and a camera we were able to bring that to his kitchen. That, to me, was like, this is great. If the principal's on board you can't go wrong."

The junior ranked

St. Francis junior Kyle Bosch, an all-state 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive tackle, attended the JuniorRank Sports Combine in Phoenix on Jan. 2. He left with an invitation to the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. The Class 5A Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State selection is one of four Illinoisans invited to play in that bowl game thus far. Montini's Jordan Westerkamp played in the 2012 game on Jan. 3.

Bosch continues to be among the top junior recruits in the state. He's got 14 scholarship offers, including offers from eight Big Ten schools. Oklahoma State recently visited Bosch, and he'll visit Alabama on Jan. 28.

Bosch attended the Phoenix combine with younger brother Brennan, a freshman at St. Charles East. Brennan Bosch was the only freshman who participated in the combine.

Track and field

A benefit of being on a high school coach's "list-serve" for emails is seeing all the neat things coming up in the sport.

A friendly local track coach's latest missive noted that Bloom High School, and vault coach Tim Johnson, will offer open vaulting most Sunday afternoons from Jan. 8 through April 29. Open but not free. Johnson also will host the seventh annual VaultPoleooza on Feb. 4; info's available at, which includes alumni such as former two-time state champion Zach Ziemek of Lake Park.

The email also noted that the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association will host a clinic at St. Charles East on Jan. 28 for people who would like to become track officials.

This is an outstanding fraternity of quality individuals such as West Chicago boys track coach Paul McLeland, Lisle legend Carlin Nalley, Wheaton Warrenville South's Tom Todd and Naperville Central graduate Jeff Helberg, but there is also a need for younger officials.

Finally, ITCCCA will host its January clinic at Oak Park-River Forest on Saturday, with speakers including WW South's Ken Helberg -- Jeff's father -- and Rob Harvey, and Naperville North's Dan Iverson among a roster of track experts on the state, national and international levels.

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