On Feb. 6, Columbus Eagles CEO and current head coach Mark Wise arrived at Columbus’ Stars Indoor Complex with everything he needed for his team to take the field for the first time since 2019. Well, almost everything.
With 20 minutes until kickoff, and the Eagles warming up on the field, Wise chatted with the production team he brought in to stream home matches online. From their conversation came a panic-inducing question. “So, do you have a camera for me?”
It was at a family member’s house, one hour outside of the city.
“He looked at me with horror in his eyes,” said David Foust, the camera operator for the match. “We thought he was joking.”
Luckily for Wise, they came prepared. Prior to the start of the season, the production team, which is made up of members of the Columbus Crew supporters’ group, the Greater Columbus Golden Boys and Girls, known as GCGBAG, practiced with multiple cameras to provide different angles on goals. Moments before the match began, Foust sprinted across the field, set up one of the goal line cameras at midfield and began to stream the Eagles 6-6 draw against the Cincinnati Sirens.
Without that preparation and quick thinking, supporters would have missed a standout performance by goalkeeper Lauren Demarchi, two assists and one goal from Alivia Milesky and three combined goals by rookies Deijah Swihart and Susan D’Isidoro.
Before the season began, Wise and Foust had a conversation about the Eagles' need for match production. In years past, they would stream their matches, but Columbus was looking for a way to enhance the matchday experience for those watching from home.
“I may or may not have volunteered us to do the Eagles broadcasting,” Foust said.
Producing soccer content has been a staple of GCGBAG since the group began in 2017. While the members don’t produce matches, their marriage of soccer and humor came in the form of video power rankings, video game previews of Crew matches, postmatch parking lot commentary, podcasts and more. As the group jokes, they were always known for professional-level production but questionable content.
From the perspective of those watching the stream — over 800 people total and never less than 100 at a time — the quality was anything but questionable. On the call was Darren Van Paris as the color commentator and Massive Report Podcast’s own Bart Logan calling all of the game action. They see their work as a small way of helping soccer grow in Columbus.
“We want to be able to help them and help the Eagles grow the game,” said Logan. “There’s a soft spot a lot of us have because the Eagles were such a big part of the Save the Crew movement.”
“You’ll get passionate fans to cross into women’s sports,” added Van Paris.
The Eagles' involvement in the Save The Crew movement included support on social media and through hosting their own Save the Crew night in their 2018 Women’s Premier Soccer League season. While the Eagles have been in the community since 2014, Foust and the production team recognized the impact that Save the Crew had on their soccer fandom.
“The whole Save the Crew epic that we went through, I think it made them think about what sports means to them in their community,” Foust said of Crew supporters. “If sports are that important in your community, you want to get involved and promote that community and share that passion for the sport.”
The producer of the matches, Tyler Kendall, doesn’t see a difference between supporting the two Columbus black and gold teams.
“Male or female, it doesn’t matter to us,” he said. He’s hoping that their broadcasts are able to spread his love of the game to the people of Columbus.
As part of their production, the GCGBAG had on-screen graphics, commercial break graphics promoting the team and a free live stream. That was only the beginning of their plans. While they’re keeping some of them secret, they shared a few with Massive Report.
Included in future PASL matches will be more camera angles on goals. Later in the season, possibly during the summer WPSL season, they’ll be able to interview players and potentially provide commentary before and after matches.
The level of production is a rarity in the PASL and WPSL. It’s often difficult to find information about the teams in the league, let alone watch their matches. The Columbus Eagles mission is to bring professional women’s soccer to Columbus, but until that day comes, amateur players are on the team in hopes of moving up into professional ranks. A broadcast of their games, and the focus Columbus has on their players, can go a long way in that journey.
The GCGBAG sees their use of creative outlets as one of many ways to help the soccer community of Columbus grow, but there are also benefits to the group itself. Specifically, spending time together as friends. This was a theme throughout their interview with Massive Report. As COVID-19 cases in Ohio are on the decline, they find joy in moving their hangouts away from virtual meetings and next to the pitch.
“For me, it was so fun to be able to be behind the mic and do it with three of my best friends,” said Logan. “This is the closest I’ve been to the Nordecke in over a year.”
Supporters can watch Eagles home matches, produced by GCGBAG, on the Columbus Eagles website throughout 2021. The team returns to PASL competition this weekend, in Chicago, against the Mustangs at 5 p.m. ET. Unfortunately, the Mustangs don’t have a GCGBAG production team, so the away match will not be streamed.