A camera and a dream
In September of 2013, at the start of his junior year, Darien High School student Alex Hager walked into school and checked out a video camera.
Hager, and friend Sam Elwell, had an idea. That idea became WaveCast—a multimedia platform in which Hager provided coverage of DHS sports throughout his junior and senior years.
“We realized there was a ton of sports happening at DHS and we were both really passionate about journalism and video,” Hager said of how he and Elwell came about the idea for WaveCast. “We saw a chance to merge our passions and really hit the ground running, we showed up and checked out a camera and ran with it.”
Gaining traction for any new outlet is difficult, but Hager used his knowledge of social media to reach out to classmates. In the early-going Hager would go to a couple games a day, film and edit to make a highlight show.
The day he started his project Hager created the Twitter handle @DHSWaveCast, from there Hager would tweet out game updates and other relevant information pertaining to sports at DHS.
When Hager had finished his first highlight film he posted it to YouTube and messaged all his friends and other athletes. That first video got around 400 views, roughly a third of the student population at DHS. It was a nice start, but Hager was far from finished.
“Everyone wants to see themselves on video,” Hager said of the athlete’s reaction to the first highlight films. “So I got to as many games as I could and people would ask when I had a camera what game I was going to—people were really supportive from the get go.”
As the WaveCast brand grew the reach also expanded past that of just the athletes and on to the parents as well. Hager called the support from the parents, ‘amazing,’ and also credited one with the idea that spring-boarded his brainchild to another level.
Towards the end of his junior year a parent suggested that Hager do play-by-play on some of the games he attended, that way the parents sitting in traffic or stuck at work still had a way to follow their kids.
Hager embraced the idea just in time for the 2014 baseball season. Hager announced all the games for the baseball team in both 2014 and 2015, eventually evolving his relationship to a point where he was just another member of the team.
“I felt like part of the family,” Hager said of the receptiveness to him by the Blue Wave baseball team. “It really felt like being a part of team, they gave me my own jersey and hat and I traveled with them to road games—they really rolled out the red carpet for me.”
It wasn’t just the baseball team either, Hager’s position and status made him a commodity to all the teams at DHS.
“That was honestly one of my favorite parts of the whole experience,” Hager said. “It’s a pretty tight knit community in Darien, I’m not much of an athletic guy so one of the things that appeals to me about sports journalism is being close to a lot of different games. I really started noticing right out of the gate people were excited to come up and talking to me, asking me to get them on camera and asking if I’m coming to their game; and everyone on all the teams were very friendly and I felt really welcome by a lot of the teams.”
Often times when a student heads to college with an idea of a career path but no tangible experience in that field they end up unhappy and changing course. Hager is a rare case where he already has success in his field, made even better by the fact that he started the very platform in which he found his niche.
“I realized in fourth grade I wouldn’t be in the MLB and that I wanted to cover sports instead,” Hager said. “And after participating in Blue Wave News (school-run news programming) I realized I could exercise that idea tangibly. The experience was incredibly gratifying because I not only could do it, but I loved to do it, and going out to film games and spending long hours editing—in Darien it’s very much a sports-centered town and you have your superstar athletes, your singers and academic stars and I went from no real identity to being the sports guy and putting my name on the map.”
Now Hager will attempt to make the same mark at the next level, Elon College in North Carolina. Hager will be a communications fellow at the private school. Hager has attended two journalism summer camps in order to better hone his skills as well as interning in the spring for Hersam Acorn Radio.
The future of WaveCast hangs in the balance now as Hager heads off to college. During his time at DHS Hager founded and was president of the Sports Broadcasters Club, which he feels made him a better mentor while working with the underclassmen.
Now WaveCast is there for the taking should anyone want it and Hager believes there is a solid foundation for someone to pick right up.
Hager can be reached on twitter @awhager for anyone who wants to follow his career or has any interest in taking over WaveCast.
As just a high school student Alex Hager showed the initiative, preparedness and execution to start, grow and maintain his own media outlet.
The future for Hager is wide open, and he knows how competitive the field is, but if the last two years have been a sign of things to come, you can get used to seeing that name.