LAURINBURG — A group of budding sports reporters have spent the last four days learning the ins and outs of the radio world with WLNC’s Kenny Fore.
Fore, who is part of the WLNC sports crew, covers Scotland High School football on Friday nights along with Al Blades, Carver Middle School football coach James McLean and Justin McNickle. Fore came up with the idea for a sports broadcasting camp for kids last year.
“I taught a class on the Civil War, specifically North Carolina and its role last year,” he said, “that got me thinking that over the summer I wanted to teach kids something I really have a passion for and something I know.”
His passion — Scotland High School football.
“I enjoy it so much and I wanted to share it with these kids and hopefully they get a kick out of it,” he said.
Fore teamed up with The HELP Line, as part of their summer enrichment program, to put on a four-day sports broadcasting camp that started on Monday and wrapped up today with a trip to Pate Stadium.
This year’s class was limited to eight kids, in third through eighth grade, learned the importance of being able to describe in detail what’s happening for listeners.
“We did an exercise on Monday to break the ice a little bit because I was emphasizing, ‘say what you see’,” Fore said. “I put them all at the window and told them to give me a play-by-play of everything that was happening. Not a whole lot going on, so it was a little difficult but it gave me an opportunity to show them what we were looking for and what we were trying to do.”
After doing traffic play-by-play, the kids got to try their hand at doing some football commentary with highlights from past Scotland games — but not before going over the basics of the game.
“Understanding the game and knowing why things happen the way they do is so important,” said Fore. “The fact they have an opportunity to get hands on experience is a lot better than sitting here for hours and taking notes.”
On Wednesday, Fore had two of his Friday night co-hosts, Blades and McLean, come in and talk to the kids about their role. Blades is the rules expert of the group after 25 years as a football official and McLean is a color commentator and the crews Xs and Os guy.
“I have the easiest job,” said McLean. “I just respond to what Kenny Fore says. But seriously, radio has been a great thing because we get a chance to know the guys and watch them grow up and become players like Zamir White.”
Blades and McLean stuck around to listen to the future generation of sportscaster try their hand at doing play-by-play and color commentary.
Each of the kids would get excited watching the highlights of Zamir White run the ball for the Fighting Scots and at the end of each clip they would yell, “Touchdown, Fighting Scots!”
The youngest camper, Gideon House, would get so excited his whole body would shake before he would yell touchdown. Fore joked with him and told House he wasn’t allowed to take his job until after he graduated college.
“They did a great job,” Fore said. “The fact that they are willing to get up and talk in front of people, not just in a classroom setting, but more of a public-type setting is more than half the battle.”
Sandy Grove sixth grader Quentin Weik, 11 said he could see himself being a sportscaster as a hobby when he gets older.
“It looks like it’s a really cool job to do,” Weik said. “I would consider it as a hobby. I want to be a Meteorologist and if that doesn’t work a professional wrestler.”
Eli McRae, 10, a fifth-grade student at Laurel Hill preferred being the play-by-play guy over the color commentator.
“I like doing the play-by-play because you get to talk more and be more into the game,” said McRae. “I want to be a Biochemist. I just really want to make things go boom.”
For their final day of camp, the kids took a field trip to Pate Stadium earlier today and did their commentary from the press box.
“I have a deep, deep love for Scotland athletics and to be able to take them up there and let them see what we see and do what we do is awesome,” said Fore. “I can’t give them the feel of a Friday night with the crowd, because that’s something you can’t really explain — you just have to experience it.”
Next year, Fore hopes to expand the class and do more hands on activities in the hopes that he can inspire a new generation of Scotland fans.
Be sure to check out Friday’s edition of the Exchange for photos from the campers trip to Pate Stadium.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.