CGSN Helps Those Near and Far Experience Center Grove Athletics
There are sports fans, and then there are devoted sports enthusiasts who care not just about a particular game or athlete, but rather about all the games, all the athletes, and the community that supports them all. Kevin Conrad is that guy.
Raised in a sports-oriented family, Conrad played baseball, tennis, basketball and football growing up. As a teen he got involved in his high school’s radio station, where he did sports announcing for basketball and football. He liked it so much that he went on to earn a degree in radio and television at the University of Indianapolis.
In 1996, Conrad and his wife Stacy moved to Center Grove because they felt it was a great place to raise a family, given the school district’s top-notch academics and athletics.
“We felt like this was the place for us, and it’s worked out really well,” Conrad says.
The couple went on to have three children, Drew, Zack and Luke, and although the school system did not disappoint their expectations, he couldn’t help noticing that there was little local coverage of Center Grove athletics.
Conrad felt internet-based sports broadcasting was needed, so in February of 2008 he launched Center Grove Sports Network (CGSN), streaming their first webcast at a Center Grove High School (CGHS) boys basketball game. For a time, he stuck with boys basketball and football, and after a couple of years he branched out to girls basketball, softball and baseball. Since then, the network has cast an even wider net to include select volleyball matches, boys and girls tennis, as well as soccer and golf. The pandemic prompted him to expand coverage even more this winter, since fan size was significantly restricted. He added swim and dive meets, as well as wrestling.
“It started out with two tickets per player, so basically mom and dad could go, but lately that’s been increased to four tickets per player,” Conrad says. “Still, for the most part this year, the general fan or alumnus has not been able to attend sporting events, making our streams even more important.”
The response from parents, grandparents and alumni has been incredible.
“They’re so appreciative, especially now with the pandemic,” says Conrad, noting that he’s received many thank-you notes from out-of-town relatives of athletes.
Eric Roberts, a 1991 CGHS grad, has a son, Harrison, who is a senior at Center Grove. When Roberts was called to active military duty last summer, the CGSN streams enabled him to watch the games as he served our country.
“Getting to watch the games on CG Sports Network was irreplaceable,” Roberts says. “High school football goes by so fast, and to have to miss one season, especially Harrison’s senior year, would have been heartbreaking.”
Roberts cleared his schedule every Friday so he could watch pre-show and post-game programming, which he admits wasn’t difficult given that it started at 3 a.m. in Iraq.
“Kevin has so much insight on all the players, and is always well-prepared with stats and things outside of the game,” says Roberts, who notes that Conrad was a godsend when Harrison had to quarantine for COVID-19 close-contact tracing after his first day of school. The quarantine caused him to miss the first game, which was senior night. Conrad made a slide with pictures of Roberts holding a sign from Iraq saying “TROJAN,” and his wife Jackie and Harrison holding a sign saying “PRIDE.”
“He included that on the broadcast so Harrison was represented during the senior roll call before the game,” Roberts says.
Eric Moore, CGHS head football coach, says this year’s football squad was labeled the “best team never seen.” Yet that’s not completely accurate, because CGSN saved the day. Although players couldn’t have most of their family and all of their friends see them play games live, CGSN enabled all of the coaches’ families and friends, as well as the CGHS student body, to watch.
“It’s sad that such a great team – many have said best in Indiana history – never got to experience the tradition of the CG crowds, but because of CG Sports Network, folks from across the country viewed our games,” says Moore, who notes that CGSN enabled college recruiters to watch games when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to due to COVID-19 restrictions. Six seniors were offered full-tuition scholarships this season and five juniors were also offered scholarships.
In order for CGSN to cover multiple events simultaneously, Conrad relies on parents to help out with tasks like taking pictures and gathering game statistics. A handful of times this winter, Conrad had two different crews doing live streams. CGSN’s media platform includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Combining all platforms, the network’s followers exceed 17,000, and that number has been steadily growing over time.
“Our reach in fan base has increased and is more consistently reached than any other school in our area or state,” says Alyssa Coleman, CGHS head softball coach. “We are absolutely blessed to have a group of individuals led by Kevin that are so dedicated to our community. Kevin spreads that amazing Center Grove passion everywhere he goes.”
Alumni tell Conrad that they appreciate CGSN because it keeps them informed on their favorite sports. If they don’t have kids or grandkids at school, they might not otherwise maintain a connection with the school, especially if they have moved away from the area.
“I hear from alums who watch our football games from all around the world,” Conrad says. “Center Grove football is a big sport. It’s incredible what we get on a Friday night webcast in terms of views.”
CGSN is not affiliated with the school system and does not receive any funding, so Conrad relies on local sponsors to keep it going. Athletic parent clubs, such as booster clubs for each sport, have also offered support.
“I feel blessed to live in such a great community of parents and businesses who want to see this network be successful,” Conrad says.
The community reciprocates that feeling of appreciation for Conrad.
Zach Hahn, CGHS head boys basketball coach, is grateful that CGSN spreads news, results and successes to a large number of followers.
“Kevin is an extension of the CG athletic department, and basically fills the collegiate role of sports information director for our high school,” Hahn says. “We’re thankful for all of the work Kevin does, and appreciate his complete coverage of all things CG.”
For more info on the Center Grove Sports Network, visit www.cgsportsnetwork.com.