The article below originally appeared on MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
Fans who can’t attend tonight’s “Little Big Game” in Redwood City don’t have to miss the action.
The 75th showdown between longtime rivals Palo Alto and Sequoia, a series that dates to 1927, will be the maiden voyage of the Bay Area Online Sports Network. The first live broadcast at www.BAOSN.tv kicks off at 7 p.m. in high definition at no cost.
“I know that not everybody can go ahead and afford to pay to view these kinds of things,” BAOSN vice president Steve Nicolopulos said. “So what we’re trying to do is offer that free to the general public, where our cost revenues come from our advertising.”
A P.E. teacher at Woodside High, Nicolopulos was the football coach for the Wildcats from 1992 to 1997, then again from 2004 until 2011. In his final season, the sons of Jim Petromilli and Bill Kerrigan were seniors on the roster.
Three years later, Nicolopulos has teamed up with the parents on this business venture.
“We do have a link in that sense, so we’re all kindred souls to the sports world,” Nicolopulos said.
The idea came to Petromilli at the end of last year while doing color commentary with the College of San Mateo football team for an internet radio broadcast. He noticed another community college filming its own video broadcast and saw ways to improve the production value.
Petromilli, the president of BAOSN, retired two years ago as the director of instructional technology for the San Mateo Community College District and his background teaching and implementing technology dates to 1973.
“So I’m no spring chicken,” Petromilli said.
After receiving positive feedback in sit-arounds with groups of parents, coaches and college administrators, the idea blossomed into a business in the spring. Kerrigan became a vice president in charge of the sales department, while Nicolopulos provided a vast network of contacts in the athletic community — particularly in the Peninsula Athletic League and with junior college teams such as College of San Mateo, Foothill College and Chabot College.
“They knew that because I wasn’t coaching I still had that itch to be involved somehow, in some way,” said Nicolopulos, who as a coach tried to use as much technology as he could.
Nicolopulos helped secure 32 prep and junior college football games for this fall’s broadcast schedule, including CSM’s season opener at College Heights Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m. against College of the Siskiyous.
“Our local area teams are playing some teams from far away, so they’ll be interested in what we’re doing,” Nicolopulos said. “So hopefully this will spread throughout the football community.”
The broadcast team, which will also cover prep water polo and girls volleyball in the fall, had practice runs the past couple of weeks at football scrimmages for CSM and Chabot to work out the kinks, such as camera angles.
“Just like a football coach, you have to practice and practice before your first game,” Nicolopulos said. “I’m sure there will be some things that will pop up and we may be unaware of and we’ll work through those, but for the most part we’ve been working hard to foresee any issues that we may come across.”
BAOSN will use raw footage from four HD cameras — two from above, one from below and a wireless camera on the field. Petromilli is the executive producer and will run the production tent, with Kerrigan in charge of instant replays and slow motion.
In the broadcast booth, Nicolopulos will provide color commentary for one of the announcers on the team, either Jason Neil or Stephen Davies.
Camera people who came through the telecommunications program at Skyline College were auditioned for the job.
“So I think we’re in pretty good hands there,” Nicolopulos said.
The broadcast begins roughly 20 minutes prior to kickoff and will be on a 30-second delay. The production includes a pregame segment, the national anthem, cheerleaders and other halftime entertainment, plus a postgame interview on the field. In the works are taped segments with the coach or an official from the host school and a weekly roundtable with local sports writers.
“It’s a really friendly way of connecting the high schools and junior colleges and the local community and the local advertisers,” Nicolopulos said. “I think it’s a great mix for everybody involved.”
“We’re really excited about it,” Petromilli said of tonight’s BAOSN premiere. “We are anticipating a large audience. … We want to be successful at what we do and like anything it’s your first time out, so much like the team might make a few mistakes, we might too. But we’ll work out the kinks and be ready to go for the rest of the season.”