Home Education Vantage Sports Network building momentum and students’ careers

Vantage Sports Network building momentum and students’ careers

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One year after launching, Vantage Sports Network — a channel dedicated to bringing viewers year-round coverage of Connecticut’s high school, collegiate and youth sports — is continuing to grow and develop both its programming and area students’ nascent broadcasting careers.

Vantage Sports Sacred Heart University TV
From left, Vantage Sportsnet host Noah Finz works with Sacred Heart University students Allison Gaskins, show director, and Lauren Baker at the Martire Business and Communications Center at SHU. Photo by Mark F. Conrad

“It’s gone pretty much as I hoped it would,” said Noah Finz, the former WTNH television sports director and owner of Finz Creative Programming, which helped launch Vantage Sports Network, or VSN-CT. “I’m really pleased.”

Exclusive to Frontier Communication’s Vantage TV customers on Channels 600 and 1600 HD, VSN-CT has telecast everything from high school football and basketball games to field hockey, volleyball and swimming events taking place in Norwalk, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury.

Finz, who creates and develops content for VSN-CT and is a regular on-air personality, said he was especially proud of landing the live broadcast rights for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats’ home games — something that “definitely helped” promote the team’s first season this year at the new Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

Via a partnership with the HAN Network, VSN-CT also offers high school sports coverage from Connecticut locales, including Fairfield County. Finz noted that the network’s recent wins include a contract with Woodstock Academy to provide tape-delayed coverage of its sporting events, “and we are working with other schools to do the same.”

Playing an important part in VSN-CT’s mission is Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, which has partnered with the network and Frontier since its launch last September. SHU serves as the official home of the network’s studio and provides opportunities for students looking to gain experience in the broadcast and sports industries.

“They work in the studio and the control room,” Finz said, “with the bulk of their work on our ‘Connecticut Sports Now’ show,” a nightly recap/highlight program similar to ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

“It’s been terrific so far,” said Andrew Miller, the SHU communication and media arts professor who oversees the VSN-CT operations. “We have three graduate assistants who work on the show Monday through Friday every week, as producers, directors and writers, and who
assemble stories.”

SHU Sportsnet Frontier Communications
Sacred Heart University student Ian Baron works on Vantage Sportsnet. Photo by Mark F. Conrad

Those students are also responsible for managing an average of 10 student interns per semester, split between graduate and undergrad students.

“It’s extremely rare to do an internship that has this much hands-on production,” Miller said. “And just about any student who wants to can do it. If there isn’t room during the fall semester they might be able to do it in the spring as we cycle through.”

Another bonus of the internship program is the sheer proximity, Miller said. “Instead of leaving campus and going to a job, they can literally walk out of their dorm and go a few hundred yards to work at Vantage,” he said. With production shifts for the 10:30 p.m. show usually running from 9:30 to 11:30, “They can be back in their dorm room by midnight, if not sooner.”

Some students have also been given the opportunity to appear on-air, said Miller, who credited Finz for the opportunity.

Miller noted that one recent SHU graduate, Diana Cannizzaro, who earned a master’s degree in sports communication and media last year, was able to translate her VSN-CT experience into a sports reporter and weekend anchor slot at KAAL-TV in Rochester, Minnesota.

Finz said the network has recently extended its intern opportunities to Southern Connecticut State, Western Connecticut State in Danbury, Norwalk Community College, Central Connecticut State, the University of New Haven and the University of Hartford. Even Connecticut natives attending Syracuse University and the University of Arizona have interned during school breaks, he said.

“They’ve found us on their own,” Finz noted, adding that he’s working to get students from the likes of Fairfield University, Norwalk Community College, Eastern Connecticut and UConn involved as well.

Even a young man from Fairfield Ludlowe High School sought him out, Finz said. “He was really eager to get into broadcasting,” he said, “and we were happy to bring him on as an intern to provide help and guidance.”

Ludlowe recently started a high school sports broadcasting club, he said.

While Frontier did not return calls for comment, Finz said the Norwalk telecommunications company remains committed to VSN-CT.

In the meantime, Finz said he plans to continue expanding the network’s programs.

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