TAMPA, Fla. — A lot has changed in the way media, players, coaches, and fans can view high school sports.
"I still remember the days of VHS tapes, and VCRs stacked on top of each other," joked Jefferson High School head football coach Joe Midulla. "We’re hitting 'pause' and 'record' and 'play.' Then you have to take all that to the post office and mail it out."
Those days are long gone. In the digital age, information is a click away. Now, Varsity Sports Network wants to make high school sports match-ups just as easy to access. VSN partnered with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to host High School Football Media Day at Raymond James Stadium, where VSN live-streamed interviews with more than two dozen Tampa Bay area teams. It was their 16th and final stop on the state-wide tour.
"Promoting high school athletics has been a forgotten art," said VSN's Dan LaForest. "We want to bring it back to the front and center."
Midulla said the entire game has changed since social media became a one-stop shop for high school highlights.
"The way media has blown up, especially with social media and that whole thing… guys like me who’ve been around a long time- it’s unimaginable."
VSN streams for free on its website, and it's also accessible via Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. LaForest said the key to increasing visibility is making the state smaller on a broadcast level.
"High school coverage has been limited to social media. We want to bring that back to the way it used to b," LaForest added. "Where it can be on TV. And we can do things, and make it bigger and broader. We’ve got some great athletes right here in the state of Florida. We have to find a way to get them showcased a little bit better."
Tampa Tech's coming off a 14-1 season that saw them fall one win short of a state title. Head coach Jayson Roberts said his team's slogan at Media Day is "Unfinished Business."
"Having the season we had last year, we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. We’re going to be everybody’s Super Bowl," Roberts said. "Being able to say they beat Tech would be a notch on their belt. So we’re going to come in the mindset of expecting to take everybody’s best shot."
Senior Fred Neal said the Titans' formula for success is a simple one.
"We gotta work, work, and keep working," Neal said. "When you get tired you have to keep going. You have to always keep going."
Neal said the combination of Media Day, the first day of school, and preseason workouts mark the beginning of a long road back to the state playoffs.
"It builds a team bond. We weren’t really thinking about this, but then it came," Neal added. "It helps us know more, work together more, build us… so we can get ready for Friday nights."
Opening Night for the 2022 Florida high school football season is Friday, August 26.