With over 20 sports and 1,200 student athletes, Timber Creek High School (FL) is undoubtedly an athletics powerhouse. The school has had several impressive achievements: a tennis player who won state four years in a row, a girls volleyball team that went 30-0 in 2008 and a baseball team that won state in 2017. Just last year, the girls basketball team made it to the Final Four and this year’s girls cross country team is state bound to the Florida FHSAA playoffs.
Sam Mizener, a sports medicine teacher at Timber Creek, knows accomplishments as great as these deserve to be publicized and celebrated. He has spent the past four years capturing success on the Wolves athletics website, timbercreekathletics.com. Done through stories, photos and other updates, it’s been his goal to keep fans involved. However, it’s been a lot of work for one person.
“I volunteered to take over the website because I wanted to make it better and showcase our athletes more, but it’s very time consuming,” Mizener said.
Sam needed help, and the idea for a new club came to mind: the VNN Sports Crew. Students interested in photography and journalism could produce content for the athletics website, building a portfolio while helping to boost awareness for teams and student athletes. For the Wolves, an educational athletics approach was the ultimate win-win situation.
Edward Finan, president of VNN Sports Crew, was one of the first students Sam approached about the club in September. Edward had already been creating football highlight reels, hype videos and graphics for fun on his own time. With several years of graphic design and photography experience under his belt, he was excited to bring his skills to the club.
“I’m a senior, so for me, this club is really about setting the ground for the next people who want to do this and have the same aspirations as me,” Finan said.
Since then, about 13 students have signed up for the Sports Crew. The club meets every few weeks to discuss all things Timberwolves. While football was the crew’s main focus this fall, they’ve since expanded to cover several different teams at Timber Creek. Sam is excited to see how the club will grow, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
“It’s been a work in progress with COVID,” Mizener said. “For example, football is only allowing two fans per player, so getting kids there to cover the game or take photos is hard. Our football crew is all seniors, so I’m hoping underclassmen will step up next year. I’d love to see this club grow.”
“The virus has been holding us back a little, but overall it’s been going well,” Finan added. “Our writers conduct interviews after the fact, and email coaches looking for stats and other information. Photography and videography face the most challenges. We’re hoping to get them in more for spring sports.”
Despite the challenges, the school appreciates the work the VNN Sports Crew has done so far. Detailed stories, such as their last regular season football game recap and cross country regional meet recap, as well as great photos have filled the site over the past two months, promoting athletes, events, informing the community and providing a new point of view for TCHS’ athletics department. Several people, including the state-bound girls cross country coach, have reached out to thank Sam and the VNN Sports Crew for the work they’ve done so far.
“I hope I’m helping to start something that Mr. Mizener and the school can use moving forward,” Finan said. “I feel like this club is really going to take off.”