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Female students bring live stream to FH Northern-Eastern hockey families

Every Bird Dog game broadcasted online
Four female students bring FHNE hockey to families
Posted at 10:54 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 22:55:30-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With the spectator limits on high school winter sports right now in the State of Michigan, live streams are more important than ever.

For Forest Hills Northern-Eastern hockey, every game, both home and away, is being live streamed by a group of four female students.

Amber DeJong, Maria Rocco, Maria Jacobs and Kayla Riley are spearheading the program's live stream during a COVID restricted season.

"I'm part of our schools broadcasting class and I love working with cameras and technology," DeJong, a senior at Forst Hills Eastern high school, said, "Also, I wanted to help bring hockey to the parents and families who can't go to the games this year due to COVID."

The foursome represent three local schools including Eastern (DeJong), Forest Hills Northern (Jacobs and Riley) and Grand Rapids Catholic Central (Rocco), all dedicated to bring a quality product to families and friends of the program.

"We feel super important because this live stream gets seen by a lot of people, including people who aren't in this state," Rocco said.

Thee broadcast even features a live play-by-play led by DeJong, who studies the opponent's roster prior to the game.

"The guys grandparents, aunts and uncles and all of them love it, they love our play by play," DeJong chuckled.

Two of the girls are hockey players themselves on the side while the other two have a love for the sport.

Maria Jacobs and Amber DeJong
Left to right: Maria Jacobs and Amber DeJong broadcast a Forest Hills Northern-Eastern hockey game.

"I just kind of grew up with it," Jacobs added, after playing for a few years, "my brother played from a young age so I was just always in a rink, so I'm just kind of used to it, it's just kind of part of my life I guess."

Meanwhile, for Forest Hills Northern sophomore Kayla Riley, she says it's a way for her to watch her older brother play without taking a ticket from her parents allotment.

"Mrs. Almassian, the team manager said, 'we need more people to film games for the boys,'" Riley explained, "I was like, 'I'm totally down to film any games for the boys if I can come watch Ayden play a few games.'"

While the girls all enjoy it and say it's a hobby, it's certainly more like a job, including setting up all of the equipment before the game and sometimes driving a long distance to away rinks.

"Before a game, we come here about 45 minutes early and we help setup and always have to get the roster for the other team for Amber's play-by-play," Rocco added.

Forest Hills Eastern Athletic Director, Ben Sherman says it's been a big weight off of his shoulders knowing the girls have the hockey live streams under control.

"Amber was rattling off the schedule and I told her I'm not even sure what today really is," Sherman joked, "she can tell me where she needed to be and when for the next two weeks, they take it seriously and are definitely dedicated."

Female students spearhead FHNE hockey live streams
From left to right: Maria Rocco, Kayla Riley, Maria Jacobs and Amber DeJong broadcast a Forest Hills Northern-Eastern hockey game.

The girls say they want to show that hockey is inclusive and anybody can get involved if they want to.

"Especially considering all of us are female and we do have some experience with hockey although not all of us play it, we're just showing everybody can do it," said Rocco.

And Sherman says he couldn't be prouder to see the way the four of them have gotten involved and really owned the broadcasts.

"They're kind of breaking down some barriers in that realm that will go towards the future," Sherman said regarding female students getting involved, "I think this is also preparing them for whatever they want to do in the future."

While none of them have ruled out broadcasting in the future, they're all considering other options of studies in their future.

An archive of the live streams and a schedule can be found on the Forest Hills Eastern athletics website by clicking here.