Davey Steele was always an athlete, so it was a natural fit when he got a work-study job running the video board, replay system, and shot clock for Vandal games at the University of Idaho’s Kibby Dome.
After he graduated with a degree in advertising in 2012 and had trouble finding a job, he started teaching economics, business, and merchandising at Lewiston High School (LHS). Before long, Steele found himself in a familiar spot: running the scoreboard, video board, and shot clocks at LHS’s basketball games. One night, Steele struggled to run all the equipment, plus play music during time outs on his own.
“It was absolutely crazy, and I needed help,” Steele recalls. “At some point, I thought, ‘I could teach my students to do this.’” Steele approached his principal about teaching the kids video production so they could help run games, and with his support, Steele started a sports broadcasting class as part of the school’s digital media production pathway.
Soon after, Steele requisitioned some lighting and a Tricaster production system for doing live video and graphics, and students started going live on YouTube with their school announcements every morning. This initial investment in equipment allowed the sports broadcasting students to stream the 2022 Golden Throne basketball game, an annual charity event held at Lewis-Clark State College. Their high-quality production received an incredible number of views on YouTube. Steele and his students were so excited they started live-streaming all of LHS’s basketball games.
“Games would end around nine or 9:30 p.m., and we’d have to wheel everything back to the studio to record the daily announcement the next morning. I didn’t like the wear and tear on the equipment,” said Steele.
Then, one of Steele’s students told him about a school in Mississippi with a mobile TV studio in a semi-truck. Steele had heard about Governor Little’s Leading Idaho grant program, so he wrote a grant for $104,000 to create LHS’s own mobile TV studio, complete with a trailer, replay system, monitors, Tricaster, and 300-foot cables.
But Steele’s students’ ambition extends far beyond the studio. As LHS’s BPA, yearbook, and Associated Student Body advisor, Steele also encourages his students to flex their entrepreneurial muscles. One of his students took pictures at school dances and sold flash drives of the unedited images for $20; she raised $1,000 in a single night. Another student developed a marketing plan for the athletic department and used the school’s large-format Epson printer to print banners on sticky vinyl and windscreens to hang in the gym and outdoor facilities. They were sold to local businesses, and she raised $80,000 in a year.
Steele’s innovation and entrepreneurial drive were among the many factors that led to his program receiving an honorable mention in IDCTE’s 2023 Exemplary Program Awards. “We’re well on our way to being self-supported,” said Steele. “I say all this because I hope schools across Idaho can see what we’ve done here and be inspired to do the same.”