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From the Desk of WCU Director of Athletics, Chip Smith

Sept. 8, 2010

Finally, it's time. We've been waiting for months. A great deal of hard work, preparation, organization and sacrifice have gone into this moment, and it is an event that will be long remembered.

No, it's not the beginning of the 2010 football season, although that is certainly long awaited. It isn't the start of any of the fall sports seasons, Move-In day for the freshman, the end of summer or even the promise of cooler weather and fall colors. It is (drum roll please) the official unveiling of the new video scoreboard in Whitmire Stadium.

Thanks to the generosity of Pepsi of Hickory, Ms. Jean Frans, the Teeter family and the gifts of other individuals, the Catamount Football experience will be enhanced with the operation of a video/scoreboard at all of our home games. While it will primarily be used during football games, it has been and will be a university-wide asset.

Daktronics, the leader in stadium video board technology, installed the structure during the summer of 2010. A tremendous amount of work was provided by WCU Facilities Management, Information Technology and the Athletic Department. A major "Thank you" goes to those folks, and especially Andy Degrove and Fred Cantler for coordinating those teams.

Production of the games will be undertaken by faculty members and students of the WCU Communication Department. Early in the project, it was decided to design the infrastructure to incorporate students and provide them with a professional learning experience through its operation. We then invested in a fiber network that connects the board with the state of the art television studio in the WCU Center for Applied Technology. Deans Wendy Ford and Robert Kehrberg have supported the effort from its genesis. Mark Mattheis has been absolutely essential in preparation of the debut, assisted by fellow faculty members Gabe Nucci and Don Connelly. Not only are we fortunate to have first-rate facilities, we are privileged to have world-class faculty as well.

The sounds and images (known as "content", I have found out) will feature much more than athletic information. University and student events, as well as community information from the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, will be prominent.

Coordinating the content with the band, public address announcer and others (scripting) is a time-consuming job, which was taken on by Katharine Koch, Lindsey Lessing and Daniel Hooker. We have even received support from the alumni. Ryan Hipps(`00) is working with us on Coach Wagner's weekly pre-game talk, and Tim (`77)and Britt(`06) Amos created the team introduction that will be shown just before the Catamounts take the field.

We hope you enjoy the show. As with any start-up, we will be learning as we go. For many of us, it will be our first venture into this arena, so please bear with us. Each week we will learn and add a little more to what will eventually be an outstanding production or, in the words of Producer Mark Mattheis, "we will make this thing spin!"

See you Saturday. Go Catamounts!

Chip Smith
Director of Athletics