When they assumed the roles of Booster Club Co-Presidents, Lori and Mark Spencer were not thinking small. And when conversation began about replacing the decades-old Main Gym scoreboard, they found a major investment the Booster Club could support. Now, about a year and a half later, the gym is home to a brand new videoboard, a scoreboard with video capabilities, fully funded by the Booster Club.
“We could just have done the same old thing and replaced it with technology that [has] been around for years, … [but] we were really excited about doing something that would enhance the experience, especially considering how long this will be around,” said Mark Spencer in a phone interview. “And we also just loved the idea that … of course it is great for the student athletes. It’ll be thrilling to play on [a] court with a scoreboard like that, but how it also goes beyond a benefit for student athletes. It’ll benefit the broadcasting students as well, and really the entire student body during assemblies.”
The new videoboard contains a 16’3” by 6’9” video section that is composed of 614,000 individual LEDs. The videoboard is equipped with live video software, meaning it can display not only pre-recorded films and images, but also video directly from cameras.
John Catalano, assistant principal for athletics, said in a phone interview that the existing scoreboard required a lot of money for frequent repairs. After researching replacement options for the malfunctioning scoreboard, he felt the videoboard was an investment that would open a plethora of opportunities for students, especially those involved in the broadcasting program.
Catalano envisions sections of the videoboard being allocated for different aspects of game coverage, he said. For example, during a basketball game, one section would display the score, another would display time and coverage statistics, and the rest of the board would display different films and images throughout the game.
“The graphics part can be the creative part, and that’s where we would involve broadcasting and students.
“Some of it is programmed already and there are templates already for it, but then as we get better, and … as more people get involved in it, you start to create your own custom templates,” Catalano said.
The video section will most likely display replays, films and graphics during only some sports games, Catalano said.
Senior Henry Pleszkun was involved in the sports broadcasting program both his junior and senior year. In a phone interview, he said students currently cover sports games in the Main Gym by filming the action and providing commentary from a setup in the upper floor of the gym. By providing a new medium for showing videos and replays, the new videoboard could transform the atmosphere during games.
“It is just going to change a lot,” said Pleszkun. “It’s going to bring a lot of new opportunities [and] it’s going to bring some cool new aspects to … the broadcasting table.”
According to Catalano, the videoboard cost approximately $78,000.
According to Mark Spencer, the Booster Club raised money for the videoboard primarily through membership dues from its approximately 650 member families, and the videoboard opens up another source of funds because it provides a space to display advertisements.
The Booster Club purchased the videoboard from Correct Digital Displays, and it was made by OES Scoreboards. In a phone interview, Director, OES Scoreboards Jean-Paul Grice said the new videoboard will be operated using the same digital controller used by both the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Blackhawks.
“[The videoboard] really is bringing the pro venue experience into the high school, and that is one of OES’s specialties,” Grice said.
David Scott, project manager at Correct Digital Displays, said in a phone interview that Correct Digital Displays has also worked with Evanston Township High School, Wheaton Academy and multiple other schools.
According to Lori Spencer, the purchase of the videoboard was the result of a combination of research, volunteering at fundraising activities and donations to the Booster Club.
“We had raised a lot of funds and we had the money to be able to upgrade [because of] all the generosity of everybody that supports the Booster Club,” said Lori Spencer. “So we felt like it was something the Booster Club could be proud of, to put our names on and give something back to the school that [is] going to be there for many years to come.”