Jack Healey has been doing play-by-play of games for a long, long time. His first came in 1969 when he called the football game at South Glens Falls High School with Ticonderoga in town.
He was working for WIPS in Ticonderoga and his first basketball game that year featured Westport High School.
“We covered Westport because the station manager lived there and we had advertising from there,” Healey said.
After calling games for more than a half century, you would think that the 72-year-old Healey had seen it all.
Think again. Jan. 27 will bring a first for the veteran broadcaster. He will describe the action of the Little East Conference men’s basketball game in Castleton University’s Glenbrook Gym with not a single fan in the house with Plymouth State as the visitor.
“I will be the only one talking. They will be able to hear me out on the floor loud and clear,” Healey said.
Welcome to pandemic basketball. There will be no fans in attendance at high school or college basketball games in Vermont.
Schools are planning on bringing the games live to fans in their homes in some fashion by live streaming the games.
There are games on the Southern Vermont League schedule in basketball later this month so the push is on to make certain the players’ parents and other fans will be able to follow the action as it unfolds.
It’s not like being there but this is a very different season and it is what we’ve got.
“We are working with Okemo Valley TV to stream our games if we play. I do not foresee any play by play,” Green Mountain Union High School Athletic Director Todd Parah said.
“We are planning to stream all games, working on the details as we speak,” Proctor High AD Jake Eaton said on Friday.
Rutland High is the only school in Rutland County that has both basketball and hockey going on. Athletic secretary Jamie Nichols relayed that they are putting together live streaming at Keefe Gym for basketball and in Spartan Arena for hockey.
It is to be determined for play by play and details will be finalized soon, she said.
Mill River Athletic Director Kim Maniery said her school is streaming through the NFHS network but that there will not be play by play.
Otter Valley is utilizing live streams to YouTube for winter games, grades 7-12. AD Steven Keith said he is uncertain about play by play at this time.
There is a big hole in sports coverage in Poultney although there will be streaming of the games. Athletic Director Dave Capman said he is not sure about play by play.
The hole comes in the lack of radio coverage for the first time in a long time. Lakes Region Radio has new owners and Capman said the Blue Devils will not have their games carried by the station this year, the end of a Poultney tradition.
“As of right now, we do plan on streaming our games via our YouTube channel. As of now, there will be no play by play but we are exploring the option,” Mount St. Joseph Athletic Director Dan Elliott said.
Springfield High School is streaming all home JV and varsity games on their YouTube channel and Facebook Athletics Page at the same time.
Springfield AD Rich Saypack can’t resist adding a touch of humor to the situation.
“No play by play with silence, maybe an old upright piano playing in the corner,” he said.
Fair Haven Union High School’s home games will be streamed via the school’s Facebook Live and YouTube pages.
“We are looking into play by play but we are starting slow and making sure our live stream works well before looking at adding play by play,” FHUHS Activities Coordinator Ali Morgan said.
West Rutland Athletic Director Joe Harrington said the Golden Horde will live stream all games at all levels. They will not have play by play as part of the package.
The Horde will be using Hudl and it will be aired over YouTube.
“We have done a couple of trial runs and it has worked well. I am very confident in it,” Harrington said.
“This year, a West Rutland graduate down in Florida or San Francisco will be able to watch the game. It’s pretty cool.”
Healey got fired at WIPS over a blowup in the parking lot with the manager after he was told he would not be paid for a 12-hour shift he pulled.
It worked out well for Healey and the Rutland area. After a brief stint at a Keene, New Hampshire station, he has had a decades-long run in the Rutland area broadcasting high school and college sports.
Now, he is taking the 2021 season extremely seriously because he feels even more importance is attached to making Castleton’s webcasts professional and enjoyable.
“The people watching will be those who always attended the game and want to attend it,”he said.