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The Webster Sports Network is born

It was February, 1980. The United States Olympic ice hockey team surprised the world by upsetting the team from the Soviet Union in the semifinal round. As the clock was winding down at the end of the game, ABC sportscaster Al Michaels delivered, perhaps, the quintessential call ever at a sporting event, “Do you believe in miracles?!”

You can bet Greenport High School sports faithful are believers.

GPO-TV, the school television station, began live-streaming some of the team’s home basketball games last season. Quite a feat for one of the few schools, and one of the smallest, in Suffolk County to produce live video broadcasts of a sporting event. For fans of Greenport Basketball, being able to watch All-State player Ahkee Anderson work his magic live at Richard “Dude” Manwaring Gymnasium on Coach Al (Edwards) Court from anywhere in the world was nothing short of a miracle.

Kevin Webster, whose day job is that of Southold Town tax assessor, is the play-by-play announcer and was instrumental in getting the project up and running. “I was watching former Greenport player Gavin Dibble live on Facebook when he was playing college ball in Maine and thought, ‘This is great,’ ” said Webster.

After a few meetings with Greenport/Southold school superintendent David Gamberg, the pieces starting coming together. Last season the station live-streamed, to great reviews, six home varsity basketball games, including one girls game.

This season, things have changed big time. While attending a Porters playoff game at Pace University last March, Webster pulled out his phone and live-streamed the game. Instead of the lengthy labor- and equipment-intensive process that had been used at the school to broadcast the games, using his phone, a tripod, and Facebook, the Webster Sports Network (WSN) was born.

Another Greenport miracle.

“The process has now been streamlined due to Facebook technology,” said Ryan Case, director of educational technology for Greenport and Southold. “The number of support people has been reduced and the connections are better through cell service rather than through the school internet. It used to take at least an hour to set up, but now with Kevin’s phone he can set up in five minutes.”

Fans around the globe can watch Webster’s home and away broadcasts on his Facebook page or on the school website. And you don’t have to join Facebook. Simply “Google” Facebook Webster Sports Network to watch the Porters in action.

“The Greenport community is very supportive of our athletic teams,” Greenport athletic director Chris Golden said. “Kevin has now provided a means by which people who can’t attend athletic contests can watch, and comment during his broadcasts via the live-stream.”

Webster has homework to do prior to each broadcast. “I contact the athletic director of the opposing team to get rosters, coaches, etc. Then I research the opponents’ records from different websites.”

Returning this year in the role of color commentator is senior Tommy Tsavaras. With no broadcasting experience before last season, but a wiz with stats, Tsavaras took to his job behind the microphone like a fish does to water. “I might have been a little nervous for the first broadcast, but after I had a game under my belt, my nervousness turned into excitement.”

Tsavaras, an excellent student, will be heading off to college in the fall. “I plan on taking broadcasting courses in college and if I get the opportunity to be a broadcaster, I’ll definitely take it,” he said. “Mr. Webster has been an amazing mentor. He’s shown me how to be a better broadcaster. I’m able to improve every game thanks to his leadership.”

Rounding out the WSN team is cameraman Ryan Weingart. A 2014 Greenport High School graduate, Weingart played four years of soccer for coach Chris Golden. He was on the camera for WSN last fall when he and Webster live-streamed the boys and girls soccer playoffs.

“One of the best things about working and living in Greenport is to be around people like Kevin and others who go to great lengths to support our athletes and teams,” Golden said.

Webster said: “I’m a sports fan and love my community. I want to give back.”

Photo caption: Play-by-play announcer Kevin Webster, left, and color commentator Tommy Tsavaras working a boys basketball game at Greenport High School. (Credit: courtesy photo)

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