Fans flock to High School Cube

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Lyons graduate Matt McLaughlin was the lead announcer for High School Cube’s coverage of the Benet at Hinsdale South boys basketball game Nov. 26.

By day, Matt McLaughlin works downtown for a Chicago-based trade show marketing company. But at night, the Lyons graduate is back in his comfort zone behind a microphone.

The veteran broadcaster has a new gig and this one involves a lot more travel, but McLaughlin is doing something he loves — announcing high school sporting events.

McLaughlin (pictured right) has been announcing games since attending Lyons. He is a product of the school’s fine broadcasting department associated with WLTL-FM 88.1. He graduated from Lyons in 1989. Now McLaughlin is a play-by-play announcer for a new internet startup called The Cube streams high school games through the internet from associated schools.

The website began streaming Chicago area games in January, but those first few months were considered tests in order to iron any potential problems with the technology that is required to bring sporting events to your computer.

The Cube started regular streams of football games, but went to an even more ambitious schedule of covering 16 playoff games during the IHSA football season.

Chicago and Austin, Texas, are the only current major markets to feature High School Cube since each of its two founders reside in those areas. The creators wish to remain anonymous, according to Director of Operations Maureen Toner, due to their interests in other internet-based companies. Toner said she has recently heard of interest in streaming games from Indiana, Hawaii, North Carolina and Georgia.

“We hope the company will go nationwide,” Toner said. “The two owners travel and they miss their kids’ events. They thought that you know with technology, you could watch kids on your computer.”

The Cube’s website now only provides live coverage, but fans can watch taped broadcasts or edited highlight clips from games. Fans can link highlights of broadcasts to their Facebook or Twitter accounts. The website features clips from Lyons’ loss to Glenbard West Friday night courtesy of the school’s LTTV network.

Schools affiliated with the site can broadcast events other than sports. On the home page, there is a link to see Sunday’s Christmas Concert by the Notre Dame Choir at Resurrection.

McLaughlin isn’t a stranger to announcing streamed games on the internet. He was the play-by-play announcer from 2002-05 for Schaumburg Flyers games streamed on the former team’s website. Before working with the Flyers, McLaughlin worked for WSCR-AM 670 and the now-defunct One on One Sports Radio Network in Northbrook. He lives in Buffalo Grove with his wife Jeanne and two young children and also doubles as the public-address announcer for Bison football and basketball games.

McLaughlin’s first game for High School Cube featured his alma mater, Lyons’ 33-10 loss to Loyola in the Class 8A football state quarterfinals.

“My relationship with High School Cube is really quite new,” McLaughlin said. “I worked a football playoff game less than one month after contacting them.”

The Cube streamed five quarterfinal games and one semifinal game.

McLaughlin works free lance on his high school sports assignments. Before joining the Cube, he worked as a field reporter for Comcast CN 100’s football coverage and even worked the Brother Rice-Downers Grove South Class 8A second round playoff game.

Cube is able to cover several difficult events, many at the same time, by keeping it simple. The crew features a minimum of two people, an announcer and a producer, who works both the camera and laptop that streams the video. Occasionally, announcers will be joined by a broadcast partner.

There are some kinks to Cube broadcasts. The on-screen scoreboard does not feature a clock, which would require a separate camera, and the score is not always updated instantly when baskets are made.

McLaughlin announced Hinsdale South Invitational boys basketball games Nov. 26 with partner Tom Muldowney. The two had never met until they arrived for those games, which ended with Benet’s 50-40 victory over the host Hornets.

“It’s my personal perspective, but this is brand new and very exciting,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a new venture. There are a lot of new people involved.”

High School Cube streamed 21 boys basketball games on Nov. 26 from seven different Thanksgiving tournaments.

The company has already lined up streaming assignments for established holiday tournaments at Proviso West, Pontiac and Rich South and will broadcast all games for the new Hinsdale South tournament.

“They approached us,” Hinsdale South athletic director Tim Feigh said. “The excitement is not here yet because it is still new. [The Cube] has been very easy to work with.”

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