BY JOHN LOUIE PANLAQUI & FRANKLIN LY
As football season draws to a close, fans of the Manteca High football team have met two students – Andrew Robison and Nicholas Grabowski, the hosts of Manteca High’s PowerPlay, a sports podcast.
Robison and Grabowski have been regulars in their last three home games, including the Buffaloes’ win over Rocklin in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals.
They can be found in front of the lights and cameras on the sidelines or in the end zone before and after games, speaking to audiences scattered across the digital universe. And that’s where they’ll be this Saturday when Manteca shoots his ninth banner of the Sac-Joaquin section. The top-ranked Buffaloes will face No. 6 Granite Bay at Sacramento City College
PowerPlay will go live at around 5:45 p.m
It’s no surprise that these seniors have found success on camera given their past experiences. With the short-lived, the longtime friends started podcasting three years ago Manteca Wiffle Ball League Podcast.
This experience taught them a lot about content creation and camera presence.
“We’ve become very accustomed to reading a script, keeping that flow, and keeping everything flowing like a podcast should,” Robison said. “We managed that very well.”
PowerPlay started this year in James Burn’s Video Production and Multimedia class. Burns challenged students to come up with their own podcast, and Grabowski and Robison, who spend most of their time talking about sports anyway, knew what to do.
With her podcast experience, brotherly chemistry and passion for all things esports, PowerPlay was created. Topics ranged from fantasy football to Manteca High School sports to Major League Baseball.
“We chose PowerPlay because we’ve made podcasts in the past when we’ve played Wiffle Ball. We did a podcast with a few people (but) mostly me and Nick. We had special guests and we got acquainted with podcasting. When Burns brought an idea of PowerPlay to us, we were ready to do it,” said Robison.
The idea for podcasts came from Burns’ belief that his class combines communication and technology. As the communications and entertainment landscape changes, Burns thought Manteca High should follow suit.
“Communication has changed so much over the years and there are so many more platforms and media that students can use to express themselves,” Burns said. “Podcasts are all the rage. I’ve subscribed to a few different podcasts and thought it would be cool to give students the opportunity to share their thoughts and creativity in this space. So far, so good.”
Social media offered PowerPlay the opportunity to leave the studio on the sidelines. In addition, it provided an opportunity to leave the YouTube channel for a live audience on Instagram. Burns offered PowerPlay the opportunity to host live shows before, after and at halftime on the school’s Instagram account (@MantecaHighSchool).
“I wasn’t expecting much, but Instagram Live really took off… and it got a lot of views,” Grabowski said.
Instagram Live was the result of Burns seeing the potential of the two hosts. There was something special about how they interacted, especially how both were vocal in sharing their passion for the sport.
“There’s a natural rhythm and chemistry between Grabowski and Robison, and anyone within earshot of them during class can pick up on their love of the sport and analysis,” he said. “They talk about fantasy football and the trade wire all the time. When I found out they have a story in podcasts and live productions, putting them in charge of ‘PowerPlay’ was a no-brainer.”
Grabowski and Robison prepare for their live shows with a week of research. For the Buffaloes’ semifinal win over Rocklin, the PowerPlay duo spent time with the coaching staff, analyzed Rocklin’s roster and season, and compared the Sierra Foothill League to the Valley Oak League.
Burns marvels at her ease in front of the camera. Aside from her growing authority in the field, it’s her natural chemistry that carries her.
“Their strength is their chemistry. Most people choke or change when the camera comes on, but not Nick and Andrew. They’re so comfortable with each other and have such a natural interaction that it’s almost as if there are no cameras or two on them,” Burns said. “One area where they need to improve is in research and knowledge. Once they understand the importance of research, PowerPlay and their careers will really take off. They have to become the authority on the topic they are discussing, which requires hours and hours without a camera.”
Manteca High students Colton Murillo, Jack Vasquez, Bryan Lopez, and Justin Lee contributed to this report.