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High tech: Aerial camera a new aid for Lebanon High athletes

  • Lebanon Athletic Director Mike Stone uses a video camera on a boom to record the girls lacrosse game with Interlakes-Moultonborough on May 7, 2019. Stone provides the footage to coaches for training purposes. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon Athletic Director Mike Stone uses a video camera on a boom to record the girls lacrosse game with Interlakes-Moultonborough on May 7, 2019. Stone provides the footage to coaches for training purposes. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Sports Writer
Monday, May 27, 2019

LEBANON — The man atop the grassy knoll was impossible to identify at any significant distance that day. Shrouded by rain and the faintest hint of mist, he was swathed in rubberized jacket and pants while executing the slow motions of a person operating a submarine periscope.

“I can’t guarantee quality right now, but hopefully later on,” joked Lebanon High athletic director Mike Stone as he videotaped the Raiders’ girls lacrosse team’s game with visiting InterLakes-Moultonborough. “I told the company it had to be the version for dummies if I was going to handle it.”

That May 7 contest was one of the earlier runs for the school’s new Hi-Pod camera, a product that retails online for between $3,000 and $5,000, although Stone declined to say exactly how much was spent to purchase Lebanon’s version.

A large, yellow tripod base, its feet weighed down by sandbags, supports a tube extending roughly 30 feet high and topped by a video camera. Hand grips allow the operator to turn the camera to follow the action below and he or she watches the feed on a monitor the size of an iPad.

The whole setup weighs 60 pounds, said Stone, who took it down in about 10 minutes after the game and loaded it onto a golf cart for transportation back to his office.

The nationwide trend of bringing video analysis to high school sports was first seen locally with football teams, but has now spread to sports like soccer and lacrosse.

“It’s really helpful for the girls to watch the film,” Lebanon girls lacrosse coach Sara Ecker said. “Sometimes they don’t realize things they’re doing in a game. You can show they how effective they are at certain passes or defense and it’s a real confidence booster.”

There were some expected early kinks in the process. During one game, an operator other than Stone recorded during stoppages and pressed the pause button during play. The athletic director also had to consult with Hi-Pod’s technical support folks to understand why the device’s memory card wasn’t clearing properly after its contents had been uploaded to the internet.

Once online, Ecker, other coaches and even athletes can access a password-protected YouTube channel to watch recorded action. Stone hopes to train several students to not only operate the camera, but to edit and upload what it records for class credit.

“We were looking at building platforms from where we could film the soccer games, but that would have meant students climbing and standing up there,” the athletic director said. Girls soccer coach “Breck Taber looked into the best way to do elevated filming in some other way and this was it.”

Below the rise, a Raiders fast break unfolded. Stone pivoted, concentrating as he talked, following the ball as it was run and passed toward the Lakers’ goal.

“How lucky are we to have an athletic director who will come out and tape our games?” Ecker asked after her team’s 12-4 victory. “We’re so fortunate that he’s generous with his time and giving us another tool to be better.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.