by Andrew Garda

It’s a nice Spring day — a rarity so far in 2017 — and the Montclair Kimberley Academy Cougars baseball team is getting set to take on the Cedar Grove Panthers.

As the players warm up, a lone student sets up a camera directly under the scoreboard, deep in center field.

MKA senior Cory Berberian is in his second year of filming Cougar sports and streaming it live on YouTube, and he’s been in virtually the same spot for every baseball game during that time.

“For baseball I just film out in center field, and I’ve never really changed that,” he said after the game. “I started on day one just filming on these specific locations and I’ve liked it ever since.”

It’s the same for most of the other sports he broadcasts. For football, lacrosse and soccer he and his team just head up to the press box at Van Brunt Field. For hockey they sit at center ice. For baseball, it’s always been center field.

Berberian got into this because he wants to be a broadcaster, and since opportunities for teenagers to do play-by-play are pretty hard to come by, he created his own. Much of the time he’s doing more than one thing — filming to broadcast as well as play-by-play — but in some cases, like hockey, he has someone else to handle the camera.

“I don’t do the camera for that one. I found that to be too tough,” he said about hockey. “I have someone who does color for the broadcast as well.”

Working with a handful of students, Berberian decides which games he’s most interested in covering and pulls together whoever is available. That can vary depending on the time of year, as some of the other students play sports, so they might be around to film in fall but not in spring when their team is playing.

Which leaves Berberian to do the heavy lifting, something he’s fine with. While he’d like to do a play-by-play broadcast of baseball, he’s equally comfortable filming the game on his own from center field.

The project has allowed him to get a lot of experience in learning how to film sports as well as analyze things on air. That, in turn, helped him when he applied to Syracuse University and its Newhouse School of Journalism. He plans to be involved in student-covered sports in college as well, and has already talked to a former MKA student who is there now.

The setup he works with is simple, and more importantly, cheap. While the Canon camera he films with was donated by the school, the Game Capture device he uses to feed the video into his laptop, and a Verizon Wi-Fi device, are all his.

Luckily, the internet is filled with cheap and free options for broke filmmakers and broadcasters.

“We use all free programs,” Berberian said. “I found the best free broadcasting software. I use YouTube, which is free to watch and free to broadcast to. We don’t have much of a budget and the camera is the only thing we have from the school. So we just keep it low cost, and that’s worked out so far.”

While Berberian is normally left to his own devices to cover whatever he wants, at times the athletic department will approach him about covering others. While the athletic director and his staff know the student project is limited — with just one camera and limited personnel, there’s only so much he can do — they still like to see different sports at times. Sometimes it can be a bit last-minute.

“They texted me at like 9 in the morning once, and asked if I could do this girl’s lacrosse game at 4 p.m. that day,” he recalls. “And I was able to do it.”

While he is open to tackling different sports, some sports don’t lend themselves to the limitations of Berbarian’s operation. Tennis and swimming don’t, and you can’t really do golf without multiple cameras. He tried volleyball, but it’s a difficult sport to film.

If you’re wondering why a school would care whether or not a student broadcast covered some sports — or really any — consider how many MKA alumni are no longer in or around the school. Many still keep track of the various teams and being able to watch a game live is attractive.

Plus, students and their families can let out-of-state family see them play as well.

Soon to graduate, Berberian is looking for the next generation of MKA broadcasters to take up his work. He already has football covered, but is trying to find broadcasters to cover others. Since some of the current group plays sports as well, there may end up being more than one group.

“Some can broadcast in the fall but they play sports in the winter. So they’re limited to just that one season. So it’s probably going to be multiple people doing different sports next year,” he says.

He’s hoping it works out, so that when he’s a freshman at Syracuse, he can tune into MKA.TV and check out how the teams he used to cover are doing.