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    Thursday, April 18, 2024

    GameDay: A ‘game changer’ for local high school sports

    St. Bernard’s Daniel Hand’s during a game of the Day Holiday Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena Monday, December 19, 2022. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    What began rather modestly 10 years ago ― two announcers, one camera and no industry blueprint to follow ― has morphed into a brand that has become a staple of local sports in eastern Connecticut.

    GameDay, The Day’s foray into streaming local sports events, has become a successful agent for the local sports community to learn the personal stories of student-athletes, watch the kids play in a world-class venue (Mohegan Sun Arena for two GameDay-sponsored events) and allow people from all over the region and all over the country to watch games live.

    “Game Day has been a game changer for high school athletics in eastern Connecticut,” Ledyard High School assistant principal and athletic director Jim Buonocore said. “The multimedia coverage, recognition and promotion of our student-athletes, schools and school communities is second to none.

    “In speaking with colleagues across the state as well as throughout New England, we (the Eastern Connecticut Conference) are the envy of all because of what Game Day provides. Event coverage, game highlights and segments focused on individuals across all sports, what we have is very rare. Game Day could arguably be the best thing to happen to high school athletics in Connecticut over the past 10 years.”

    GameDay was the brainchild of Peter Huoppi, The Day’s Director of Multimedia, and Day publisher Tim Dwyer. The first GameDay event came in Dec. 2012, a basketball game between New London High School and Trinity Catholic. New London had future National Basketball Association talent Kris Dunn at the time, giving GameDay immediate star power to showcase.

    In the fall of 2013, Dwyer used his contacts from his days working in Washington, Boston and Philadelphia to webcast the New London-Ledyard football game with five cameras, three announcers and a professional-level broadcast truck and facility.

    In the last 10 years, GameDay, with Casey O’Neill at play-by-play for nearly every event, has helped fill gyms throughout the region, including a memorable ECC Boys’ Basketball Tournament championship game in 2018 at Waterford. The game between rivals Waterford and East Lyme drew nearly 2,000 fans and kept a thousand others outside unable to get in, watching the game on GameDay on their phones.

    “From the students’ perspective, GameDay gets everyone more excited for the game,” St. Bernard senior basketball player Tyson Wheeler said. “Everyone wants GameDay to come their school. It makes the kids feel like they’re helping their city/community get noticed and makes all the kids feel like small town celebrities to a certain point.”

    GameDay later formed a working relationship with Mohegan Sun, whose 10,000-seat arena has become the home of two GameDay events: The Day Volleyball Classic in October and the Day Holiday Basketball Classic in December. The events this past year drew more than a combined 3,000 fans.

    “It’s a professional level production that has elevated the ECC,” Buonocore said. “GameDay has shined a significant light on who we are in this part of the state. As schools we are extremely fortunate to have The Day, Game Day with their first class coverage.”

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