Watch party connects Cornerstone University community
by Ryan Wenger
Branson, Mo. is a long way from Grand Rapids, but with the help of watch parties, Cornerstone University students and other community members bridged the distance last week.
The live watch parties, held in the Bernice Hansen Athletic Center, connected fans to the men’s basketball team during the final games of their successful NAIA Division II championship bid on March 14 and 15.
With free pizza and pop, trivia questions and prizes, and a live video feed of the game, Chip Huber, dean of student engagement, said he and other staff members did everything they could to make the events as fun as possible.
“It was almost like being at the game,” Huber said.
The parties took 25-30 volunteers to pull off, Huber said, including staff members and student workers from Spiritual Formation, the athletics department and tech support.
Huber called the Tuesday night party a “blast” and said it was one of the largest and best-attended events that he has been a part of on campus. He estimated about 500 students attended Tuesday night’s party.
“That’s what I love about athletics – its ability to bring people together,” Huber said.
He said the events allowed the campus community to feel they were part of something and celebrate together even though they were far away from the team.
The technical challenges of airing the live stream were one of the biggest obstacles to making the parties work, Huber said.
The Monday night game was a live internet feed and the championship game was aired on an obscure cable channel.
Huber credited Dave Weaver, media events technical director, and Bryan Johnston, director of information systems, with making sure the game videos worked.
The other large obstacle was the fact that the event organizers – who included Huber, Matt Haller, assistant director of student engagement , and Layne Kreh, athletics department facilities director – did not know for sure whether the team would win and advance each day, Huber said. That made it tough to communicate with the community, Huber said.