VENICE — Football fans have been tuning in to watch collegiate and professional football for years, but they can now make a whole weekend out of it — as schools such as Venice High have began to offer livestream productions of their games.
For a price of $13.99 fans can stream individual regular season Venice High football games — home and away — that includes a pregame and halftime show, scoreboard graphics and commentary provided by Josh Grant and John Mussone.
“It’s nice that grandparents out of state can see their grandchildren play,” Venice athletic director Pete Dombroski said. “That’s a big part of the reason why we do this.”
When John Peacock took over as the head coach of Venice football in 2007, he didn’t waste time exploring ways to use media to his advantage.
He arranged for radio programs to broadcast Venice games, started his own podcast and TV show and eventually reached out to Vibrant Aspect Media to begin in-house production of game broadcasting in 2016.
“I did a lot of media when I went to Venice High, and I guess word got around, so they asked if I’d be interested,” said Vibrant Aspect Media founder Joshua McLendon, who now co-runs the company with Francis Haines, another Venice High graduate. “They reached out to me, we got lunch and that’s what got the ball rolling.
“The first year we only had two cameras and pretty much nothing else. None of the cool stuff we have now.”
In the time since, the production has gone from highlight reels on the Jumbotron to a full-fledged production with six employees including two Venice High interns, multiple camera angles and all the bells and whistles on screen.
The pregame show for this week’s game at Sarasota High School begins at 7 p.m. and access to the livestream can be purchased at veniceindianfootball.org.
Here’s more about the voices on the call:
Josh Grant (Play-by-play)
A teacher at Venice High School, Grant has been involved in local sports for over a decade.
He served as a freelance writer for the Sun Newspapers for several years, also working as the public address announcer for some high school games.
“This was my long term career goal,” Grant said of broadcasting. “It’s what I always wanted to do. Then, I came to find out my services are better used in education. I can do this stuff on the side and it helps me integrate myself into this community.”
Eventually, his work led him to tryout for the PA announcer position with the Charlotte Stone Crabs — the former High-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays — working his way up to earn some chances to serve in the same position at Tropicana Field this season.
“The job opened up and I went and tried out,” Grant said. “I was the first one to try out, and I think was the last, too. From there it went on. First season I was just PA. Then PA and DJ. Then I was running all of it. Graphics, scoreboard, everything.”
Grant enjoyed his position with the Stone Crabs, but was let go when the team folded as part of the contraction of Minor League Baseball this past offseason.
Suddenly armed with years of broadcasting knowledge and nowhere to apply it, Grant began doing play-by-play for Venice High football and baseball games last season.
This year, he’s back in the same role with plans to continue on with baseball in the spring.
“I would say Josh Grant’s voice just makes it feel like you’re watching a football game,” Haines said. “He has definitely been a big help.”
John Mussone (Color commentary)
There may be no better fit for a color commentator on Venice High football than Mussone.
The longtime team statistician began working with the Indians under coach Nick Coleman in 1999 as a spotter and record keeper, and has grown his role since.
“I was at a party one night and someone was like, ‘Our stats guy isn’t feeling well. Can anyone keep the stats?’ And everyone is kind of hesitant because there’s a lot of numbers and you have to keep up. But that stuff is right up my alley, so I was like, ‘I’ll do it.’
“After a year of doing it they just looked at me and were like, ‘Well, you’re gonna be here now, right?’”
Along with stats, Mussone has also been active with boosters, has done the public address at home games and co-hosts a podcast and TV show with Peacock, among other duties with the team.
In his position as a color commentator, Mussone can provide context — statistically, historically or personally — about both players and coaches while also keeping viewers keyed in on what to watch.
“Now I get to speak my thoughts out loud," Mussone said. "PA announcing for me is easy. It’s just one line, like, Blazek complete to Platt for a first down.
“I’m writing the stats and looking for trends in my head, but I didn’t really have the chance to say it until now.”