South Tahoe High School’s Thunderclap club offers students real world media experience |

South Tahoe High School’s Thunderclap club offers students real world media experience

Students excitedly gather after school in Travis Steil’s classroom.

The atmosphere is relaxed, the students obviously like and respect Steil, at least enough to come in after school for several hours.

The students are part of South Tahoe High School’s Thunderclap club, the audio/video club that focuses on the school’s sports.

Steil, who has been a teacher at South Tahoe for five years, used to be on the media teams for the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Giants. He started the Thunderclap club three years ago using his experience with those teams.

Since he took the job, he has been slowly using grant money to upgrade the A/V equipment in the school’s media lab to match the equipment he had while working with professional teams. Steil estimates the school has $55,000 worth of professional grade equipment and technology.

“We’ve scrapped, begged, borrowed and stolen,” said Steil as he was pointing out the monitors they use. Those monitors were going to be thrown out and Steil grabbed them to use in the studio.

The club gives students real world media experience. They live broadcast home games for the school’s volleyball, football and basketball teams to their YouTube channel. The broadcasts are called Thundercasts.

The students have the opportunity to do all the roles that are normally performed in a sport’s broadcast including, camera operators, technical director, replay, announcing and more.

“I really like announcing, and I want to do broadcast in college,” said Teagan Welch, 17, an announcer for the broadcast.

Welch said she’s learned a lot about being able to follow a game and make it interesting.

Steil tries to run the club like it’s a professional broadcast. On game days, he will create a full show run-down. Students will meet after school to get their roles and start preparing the equipment.

Part of the benefit of the club for the students, besides the experience, is the teamwork. Steil said some students who enjoy audio, visual work don’t often work in teams, so this gives them good exposure.

As they prepare for the South Tahoe vs. Truckee volleyball match, the students rush around getting the equipment ready, talking to each other about their roles, offering each other help and joking around.

The thing that stands out is how much fun they seem to be having.

“(Steil) is really helpful and he makes it a really good environment,” said Welch.

Steil believes another benefit of the club is the impact it has on school culture.

“It gives us a way to make sports inclusive to all types of kids,” said Steil. “It’s building relationships between the athletes and the other kids, and it makes them part of the team.”

With changing technologies, Steil doesn’t think the club is too unique.

“We’re really lucky to have it but it’s not necessarily unique,” said Steil, although he does admit not a lot of schools in Northern California offer the program.

He still hopes the club will give students the skills they need to navigate a digital world.

“It’s a fun way to learn and get into the world of sports broadcasting,” said Brandon Wilson, 17, the lead animator for the club.

Wilson hopes to do something in the film or media field in the future.

In the future, Steil hopes to expand the club to connect with the community. He hopes to produce a show that the community would be interested in viewing.

He does say he’d be willing to allow the kids to push the club into taking on more if they want.

To watch any of the live broadcasts, visit

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