Craig Kackert and his video crew capture Grace Brethren games from every angle
By Rhiannon Potkey
September 16, 2005
As the players step to the line of scrimmage, the red lights of the cameras flash into recording mode.
One camera zooms in tight to capture the technique of the linemen. Another pans out wide to track the routes of the wide receivers. A third chronicles the crunching sounds of the pads from field level.
At every Grace Brethren School football game, Craig Kackert and his video crew have all the angles covered.
The first-rate production is a labor of love for Kackert, and an essential tool for coach Terry Gourley and his staff.
Kackert is the father of former Grace Brethren running back, Chad, and although his son graduated last season, Craig continues to provide game-day coverage for the program.
“I can’t just sit around and watch, I need to be pro-active and doing something to help,” Craig Kackert said. “It’s been suggested I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Is that a good or bad thing? I really don’t know.”
Wearing a cutoff T-shirt, jeans and his trademark straw hat, Kackert, 53, arrives to games early to set up his equipment.
He places his best camera, the Sony VX-1000, in the press box to cover the main angle. The camera to capture the reverse angle is located in the visiting stands, and the final camera is stationed on the sideline.
If the stands on the visitor’s side aren’t high enough, Kackert rents a scissor lift or brings a 16-foot ladder to games.
This season’s operation is scaled down compared to last year when Grace Brethren made its CIF-Southern Section Division XII championship run.
Kackert’s crew used at least five cameras to capture the title footage, including one focused exclusively on the linemen.
“It’s not like the NFL on Monday nights,” Kackert said. “Football coaches don’t want to follow the ball, they want to watch the lanes, and see how players are lining up. Those sorts of things are essential.”
Before each game, Kackert talks with Gourley to find out what the coach wants to see when he breaks down game film with his team on Saturday morning.
“You have to be open for feedback and not have an ego,” Kackert said. “The tape is their teaching tool. If they can’t see a player or a number, it is useless to them.”
To ensure the coaches could view the film, Kackert donated a computer and a projector to the program, and provided each coach with a portable DVD player. When Gourley watches tapes produced by other teams, he realizes how spoiled his staff is.
“We take it for granted,” said Gourley, who receives a copy of his game tape within an hour of the game ending. “You see the other tapes and say, ‘Surely this is not what they are watching.’ You can barely see the plays. Craig’s are always such high quality. It is really amazing.”
Members of Kackert’s crew are equipped with walkie talkies for games, and are plugged into a feed from coaches’ headsets to position their cameras according to play calls.
Kackert buys hundreds of tapes before the season, and uses five or six per game. If done right, a tape of a normal high school game should be 25-30 minutes long, Kackert says, and contain a down and yardage identifier for each play.
“You can’t be distracted or miss a play,” he said “and every shot needs to be set up before you press record. It’s something you can master over time .”
Kackert trains anyone who wants a shot behind the camera, and his wife, Bette, decided to audition for a role this year.
Without being asked, Bette grabbed a camera, taped a preseason scrimmage, and met with Gourley after for tips.
“I wanted to make sure Terry felt like he could use what I had done,” she said. “I didn’t want to be patronized just because I was a woman. Doing this allows me to still have a good reason to go to the games.”
Kackert’s footage is not just used for breakdown sessions. He creates college scouting tapes, and produced the team highlight video last season.
Filled with music and interviews, the near professional-quality highlight tape took at least 200 hours to finish.
Kackert has more than four hard drives of football clips on his computer to sort through, and for every minute of video, two to three hours of editing is required. Funding such a complex production is not cheap. In the three years he’s been taping games, Kackert estimates he’s spent close to $35,000 on equipment.
“That is nothing compared to what the labor is,” he said.
But Kackert feels it’s worth the price when his cameras capture a big hit, a sprawling catch or a touchdown celebration.