Hardwood Heroes Expands Coverage, Staff

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As the team of WOUB’s official high school basketball program “Hardwood Heroes” prepares to enter their upcoming season, they also will celebrate some major production milestones. The show has gained speed since its first broadcast in 2009 and has now grown considerably from a staff of 20-30 to the largest crew to date of 58 students.

Much of the growth in student involvement and retention can be contributed to crossover in coverage of the football and basketball seasons. This year’s online outlooks and content will commence on Nov. 25, catching the tail end of the Ohio High School Athletic Association state football championships. Just as this provides continuity for area viewers and fans, the extension of the season also allows students to expand their participation in the program.

This year in addition to the five Athens County Tri-Valley Conference high schools the Meigs, Vinton and Eastern boys and girls basketball teams will be added to the roster. The relatively close vicinity of the three schools and their competitive relationship with other TVC teams combined with the considerable increase in the number of staff members have allowed for this growth.

“This is such a great resource and service for the area because the majority of these athletes end their careers in high school. They really appreciate any exposure ‘Hardwood Heroes’ can give them and the coverage makes it much easier for families, friends and fans to find information about their favorite team or student athlete,” says Director of Production Services and Student Development Mike Rodriguez.

According to Rodriguez the crew is also excited to launch a new hashtag campaign to help revamp the show’s social media and increase online interactions with high school students from the schools.

To keep up with all of the changes a number of students have taken on new roles this year. The season will be co-produced by sophomore Emily Mueting and junior Nathan Takitch. Mueting is the first female to earn the role in “Harwood Heroes” history. In addition to her prior involvement with the show she gained experience for the position while working on “Gridiron Glory” and “Newswatch” and is an active member of RTDNA and SPJ.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity [for women] in sports journalism, they just have to take advantage of the opportunities,” says Mueting.

The responsibilities of Eli Burris, the show’s new web coordinator, include bringing the website up to speed and maintaining the online content. David Holman has stepped up as the statistician for the upcoming season. This role is not only vital for tracking trends and records to feed to the online coordinator and broadcast producers, but also to keep an eye on the accuracy of statistics from the more remote schools that sometimes lack a consistent recording system.

Nick Komjati and Blaine Carragher will serve as online hosts throughout the week on the Hardwood Heroes web page beginning Nov. 25 and continue coverage throughout the season.

The program will also have a new look on time for its first broadcast on Jan. 12 thanks to a generous donation from Scripps partner station WCPO Cincinnati.

“This group is committed to coverage throughout the playoffs, following teams through their season is important,” said Rodriguez. “It’s a community service for players, schools and fans.”