Lindsay Riley ~ SAAC senator
This past September, the Lynchburg Sports organization was able to finally announce the completion of a new deal with ESPN 3. Throughout the 2019-20 academic year, the Lynchburg Hornets Sports Network will have games available via their new YouTube streaming service as well as the ESPN 3 app. In order to learn more about this deal and what it means to the University of Lynchburg community I sat down with Joe Hutzler, the voice of LHSN.
Over a year ago, Joe Hutzler and Athletic Director John Waters sat down to discuss their plans for Lynchburg sports network that would keep them out front of other competition. This is what initiated contact with ESPN which would eventually put the University of Lynchburg as the only Division III school, out of 452 DIII institutions, to be represented on ESPN 3. Over the previous 2017-18 school year the athletics department worked to organize the correct equipment and sign the necessary contracts in order to fulfill this deal. The streaming finally went live this past homecoming weekend on October 19th with field hockey, men’s soccer, and women’s soccer games being represented through the ESPN 3 app. It was a relief to the LHSN and athletics staff to see all their hard work over the past year finally come together.
LHSN is already known for their quality broadcasting thanks to their dedicated staff of students and faculty. Lynchburg remains a leader in streaming services. According to Joe Hutzler, several Division III institutions have reached out to this program to learn how they too can elevate their own sports networks. One of the goals Joe had in mind when executing this plan was to install energy into similar institutions so that they believe that they can achieve a similar quality. Streaming services under the ESPN name does not have to be limited to Division I athletics. Additionally, LHSN believes that high level streaming does not have to be limited to a school’s biggest game of the year or the most popular sports at the school. Hutzler and his team pride themselves in providing the same high-quality broadcasting for each game and each sport. Not many other schools are able to keep up with the level and quality that LHSN provides.
It is important to note that this new development with ESPN 3 not only benefits athletes, but the entire University of Lynchburg student community. Hutzler’s hope from the commencement of this deal is that it “will energize a group of students that are either on campus or haven’t gotten here yet” so that they may have the opportunity to work with LHSN even if they are not athletes. They have a chance to work with higher level broadcasting equipment, now under the prestigious name of the ESPN platform, for four years. Hutzler emphasizes that “you do not have to wait until you are a junior to get involved.” It is possible to get experience in communications work from a smaller, Division III school that will prepare you for a possible career in network communications. Students could just walk across the dell to go to work and be a part of history. His goal with his student workers is to teach them what they will expect in the real-world environment so that they are best prepared when they leave Lynchburg. Hutzler also said that he welcomes other organizations across campus to get involved. If they have a video they wish to use as a commercial or advertisement for their organization they are welcomed to send it in to LHSN and get in contact with the department to have it broadcasted on one of the largest sports streaming platforms in the world. Overall, the message that the LHSN organization would like to address to the UofL community is that this new deal does not only impact student-athletes, but it can potentially benefit other students and organizations that wish to get involved.