A pair of commentaries from your editor, regarding MSHS baseball and webcasting of Wildcat sports events

We’ll have some news soon, including how Mount Si High School volleyball fared last night in its playoff game, but we first have a pair of commentaries for you to chew on this morning. If you have comments, please post in the comments section or shoot us an email at snovalleysports@gmail.com.

SVSJ commentary: Lutz the smart, and correct, choice as Mount Si’s new baseball coach
This week’s hiring of Brent Lutz as the new baseball coach at Mount Si High School was a smart decision by the school that will help this program and its student-athletes move forward despite the many challenges this program faces in 2019.

Lutz, a Valley resident, has been associated with the Wildcat program for the past several years – first as a parent to two now graduated players from the squad (Reid and Justin), then for the past two as an assistant to the man he replaced, former head coach Zach Habben. It was Habben’s sudden resignation last month which created the vacancy that Lutz is now filling.

The decision, as noted, was a smart one, and frankly, was the right one, too. We believe the decision to hire Lutz resulted from a pair of factors: one, the lateness and suddenness of Habben’s resignation required the school, and its athletic director Darren Brown, to make a quick decision on a coach in order for it to not impact offseason preparations for the upcoming season, and two, and more importantly, Lutz being a part of this coaching staff for the past two seasons exposed him to the many challenges that the program and its athletes are facing as a result of not having a home field.

As you know, the high school campus is currently being redeveloped with the new school building set to debut next fall, on where the old baseball and softball fields sat at the north end of the property. While softball has enjoyed relatively decent accommodations at its temporary home field nearby at Centennial Fields in Snoqualmie, baseball has been practicing and playing its home games at venues far away from Mount Si – think Bannerwood Park in Bellevue and at a facility in southeast King County near Maple Valley – which has impacted athletes’ academic performance among other things. The Snoqualmie Valley School District, if you remember, went ahead with this redevelopment hoping that a proposed new field in North Bend would be ready to go in order to house both teams.

Well, as you may notice if you go by the site of the proposed facility on SR 202 at the north end of town by Meadowbrook Farm, not a single ounce of dirt moved there again this summer, and frankly, we suspect that project at this point is good and dead. So that leaves Mount Si’s baseball program again having to do this same exact song and dance next spring, resulting in negative impacts to student-athletes. The school and school district gambled, and lost, and as a result, hurt students in the process. But, those decisions are in the past now, so the baseball program will forge on, and bring aboard a new head man in Lutz who will bring a strong style of coaching to the program while working closely with the school and its faculty to help student-athletes minimize any academic disruptions that result from the long practice and game commutes.

The hiring of Lutz represents the school’s continued commitment to success for its baseball program, one which started with the hiring of then-coach Elliott Cribby in 2011 prior to them winning the state 3A baseball title that season, and continues to this day. We look forward to working with Lutz and for continued success with Wildcat baseball.

SVSJ commentary: With increased interest in Mount Si football, and Wildcat sports in general, it’s time to make the games more accessible to fans unable to attend
As we have been telling you for the past couple of days, there is a big Mount Si High School football game tonight, and with that comes opportunities for the program to gain strong positive exposure that it usually doesn’t get. Here’s hoping that that will change.

Tonight’s game is being webstreamed a couple of ways – one, a radio station in Mount Vernon will be streaming their live radio broadcast of the contest on their website, and two, Mount Si’s football booster club has put together a Facebook LIVE broadcast of the game that should be available on that website. Both of these broadcasts will be free to watch, but it’s only the second time all season (and the first for free) that the Wildcat team has been featured in such a way. And considering the significant regional interest in the team due to its highly-touted senior quarterback Cale Millen, bound for Oregon next fall, we find that to be terribly disappointing.

Having games available for TV or radio broadcasts provides many advantages for Mount Si and its fans. One, the game broadcasts give local residents who may be unable to attend the game in person a chance to be a part of things and help support local kids, and two, these opportunities provide alums – including former players – who live outside the Valley along with family members of current Wildcat players who also live out of town a chance to continue supporting this program from afar. On Twitter yesterday we engaged in a lengthy conversation with a pair of Mount Si football grads, Jimbo Davis and Hank Van Liew, about this exact topic after the football boosters announced their Facebook broadcast. Davis, in his comments, expressed his strong approval for the broadcast availability, and indicated to us on Twitter he has been working for a couple of years to try to get more of these available.

Such web broadcasts of Mount Si games would not be hard to produce. There are many providers, such as Stretch Internet, who covers small-college games in the Northwest, that would be happy and able to assist the school in such an endeavor, and with the advantage of a video production class at MSHS, the students in that class could be utilized to produce and run the broadcasts with adult supervision, giving those kids valuable on-the-job training while using the best equipment and technology and supporting their peers and school at the same time.

Cedarcrest High School fans know well about the broadcasts that Sultan High School, through its video-production department, produces of its home athletic events. We have seen those broadcasts in the past and can tell you that for a small school, Sultan’s production is first-class and rivals that of many commercial outlets that produce high school sports webcasts here in Washington, such as ELI Sports in the south Sound or STSPN, which handles Wesco Conference games in Snohomish County. We would suggest that a model that Mount Si could use for such broadcasts would be off what Sultan does with its service, called TurkPride.TV.

And it’s not just the school that should be thinking about increasing its webcast presence. The Kingco Conference, in general, should be looking at ways to help expose its athletic programs more through such webstreaming options, giving their student-athletes across all its member schools is all sports greater exposure to college coaches and their local communities.

With the expected continued success and regional interest that Mount Si’s football program should have in the coming years with Millen’s brother Clay expected to be the next Wildcat QB, it is past time for the school to start looking into how best to allow its many fans, both here at home and outside of the community, the ability to support their football program and its many other athletic programs. We call on principal John Belcher, athletic director Darren Brown, the rest of MSHS’ administrative team and SVSD superintendent Rob Manahan to make providing webcasts of Wildcat athletic contests in all sports a top priority the remainder of this school year, and for Belcher and Brown to ask the conference to do the same. We don’t expect them to launch it tomorrow, but we’d like to see them start working on it with a goal of having these webcasts available in time for next school year.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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