By Mike Strasser, West Point Directorate of Public Affairs and CommunicationsOctober 20, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 21, 2010) -- Sports are a way of life at West Point. Whether it's intramural, intercollegiate or club, the "every cadet an athlete" concept involves all 4,400 members of the Corps of Cadets.
Simply put, that's a lot of sports, and it can be difficult to keep tabs on it all. Two Class of 2011 cadets have made it easier for everybody with "GameTime."
"GameTime" is the sports show hosted by Cadet Brigade Athletic Officer Judson Noel and deputy BAO Caitlin Finnegan. Since its inaugural episode several weeks ago, they've covered the spectrum of West Point athletics with scores, game footage and upcoming events.
Noel created "GameTime" to provide balanced coverage of the entire sports scene at West Point: intercollegiate, club and company athletics. Where print and web media tend to highlight the intercollegiate angle almost exclusively, "GameTime" gives all athletics equal billing.
"We're really trying to bridge that gap and so by covering all three of them and giving them just as many highlights, we're hoping to create balance," Noel said. "And already, we've been seeing people coming up to us, saying how much they like the show and how much more fired up for company athletics they've been than ever before."
Finnegan writes most of the script for each episode, which they deliver in the Thayer Hall TV studio. Neither Noel nor Finnegan had any previous experience in front of a video camera, but they've quickly developed a professional rapport in the studio and a burgeoning fan base, both online and with the Cadet Mess crowd where "GameTime" is screened during the lunch period.
"Getting that feedback from everybody helped us to change it up, loosen up and get comfortable in front of the camera, too," Noel said.
Some of the initial feedback informed the hosts they appeared too mechanical or statuesque. Finnegan thought she came off overly cheerful that first episode, while Noel appeared angry, gripping his hands too tightly.
"Remember Jud, gentle hands," Finnegan kindly admonished her co-host during a recent taping.
Noel has conquered his on-screen habit of looking too serious but still fights the occasional fit of spontaneous laughter which brings production to a halt. That's when Finnegan has to be the serious one, to get the show back on track. Noel admitted that Finnegan is the more photogenic of the pair, though she had been conditioned as a child for such occasions.
"Ever since I was little, my mom's really big on pictures, and so I always had to be ready for the camera," Finnegan said, breaking into a wide-smile pose. "I think I have an agreeable personality. When I heard I was going to be co-host as the assistant brigade athletics officer, I was pretty excited."
It was a surreal experience, they both said, stepping into the studio for the first time, reading from a teleprompter and standing in front of a green screen. The show may have been scripted, but the long-term vision of the series was still sketchy.
"It was kind of like stepping into the unknown," Noel said. "We weren't entirely sure how to act, or interact."
That's where the assistance of the DPTMS Multi-Media personnel came into play behind-the-scenes to operate the camera, set up lighting, cue the running script and advise the hosts.
Noel and Finnegan also enlisted the help of fellow cadets for editing sessions in the barracks. The hosts expanded from the original weekly episode to a daily format which debuted two weeks ago at the Cadet Mess. This has allowed them to cover even more sports in a timely fashion, which also eases what had been a frantic production schedule.
The success of the show, in part, can be attributed to a Corps of Cadets effort. Finnegan said the majority of the content is provided by cadets who supply them with ideas, game results, player and team information. Sports footage not filmed by the Cadet Brigade Athletic staff is submitted by teams or fans.
"It's really been about the teams getting excited about their sports and sending in stuff to us. It's good to see people care enough and have been helping us do this," Finnegan said.