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VWSD to stream all sporting events online

Warren County’s high school sports fans will soon be able to watch nearly every game in the Vicksburg Warren School District live in their own home.

Beginning this fall, the VWSD will offer live online broadcasts of games in a half-dozen sports through the National Federation of High Schools Network. Previously, the VWSD has used its own in-house production team to stream games. VWSD athletic director Preston Nailor said the switch in providers will allow the school district to broadcast more games to a wider audience.

“The National Federation of High Schools has a platform that extends well beyond the southeast, and it opens up the door for recruiting outside of this area. There are a lot more schools that can see our games,” Nailor said. “This gives us the capability to showcase every sport, from grades 7-12, that we have.”

The NFHS Network is a subscription service that costs $60 per year or $10.95 per month for access to a chosen school. Graduation and the 2020 teacher convocation event will be available for free on the service.

The VWSD receives a portion of the subscription fees. Viewers can subscribe at vwsd.org/communications.

Events that will be streamed include every home game in football, volleyball, softball, basketball, baseball and soccer for junior high, ninth grade, junior varsity and varsity teams. Previously, only selected games had been streamed.

The VWSD’s production team will continue to provide live coverage of road high school football games for this season.

The ability to increase the number of broadcasts, Nailor said, stemmed from new equipment available through the partnership with the NFHS. New cameras that will be installed in gyms and stadiums can be programmed to start a stream shortly before a game starts. The cameras automatically follow the action, eliminating the need for a human production crew.

Nailor said the new system is cheaper for the school district to operate. He said the old system cost about $8,000 per year, mostly to pay for server space. The NFHS system has an initial investment of about $3,000 per camera but a lower annual cost.

“For what we’re trying to do, it’s going to be cheaper,” Nailor said. “It’s about the server and the system you’re using.”

Because of construction at most of the athletic venues across the VWSD, the new system will be rolled out through the course of the 2019-20 school year. Some work has already been completed, but other facilities are still in progress. The target date for installation of the cameras is Sept. 20.

“Now, it’s a little shaky timeline with it because we’re under construction. We want to wait until the facilities are finished because the dust from the construction can mess up the camera,” Nailor said. “The football and softball facilities should be done by mid-September.”

Nailor added that construction at Vicksburg High’s Memorial Stadium is on track to be completed in time for the football home opener on Sept. 13 against Benton, La. The Gators will play their first three games on the road, although two of those are across town at Warren Central — a road game against Warren Central on Sept. 6, and the season-opening Red Carpet Bowl vs. Madison Central on Aug. 23.

“They’ve got the gravel down at Vicksburg’s stadium and they’re going to start laying the turf this week,” Nailor said. “We are right on plan for where we want to be. We are right on schedule to be able to play that first game on Sept. 13.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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