The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 13, 2014

Facebook Frenzy: Prince of Peace students use social media to spread athletics news

By Zach James
Assistant Sports Editor

CLINTON — If you go to a Prince of Peace athletic event this school year, odds are you'll see a pair of students walking around with an iPad and a microphone dressed up as students normally do to show spirit.

Those two students — Connor Evers and Nathan Vander Bleek — have started a Facebook page called "Prince of Peace Student Section" to spread the news on Irish athletics. The page may be filled with basketball content, but the pair plan to extend it to the spring season.

"We just started it for basketball, but we want to definitely involve the spring and summer sports too and get the ball rolling with those when they start," Evers said.

The two started the page, which has over 200 likes in its early stage, because they thought it would be a good idea to connect the community into the student aspect.

"We want to let the parents see what their kids are doing, and just make everyone know exactly who we are as a small school," Vander Bleek said. "We try to keep it as clean, interactive, and as fun as possible."

The two try to have a video of every home game, giving fans highlights of each girls and boys game and interviews from Irish players and coaches (and the occasional opposing player and coach).

Take the homecoming game on Feb. 5, for example.

The video is a near 10-minute compilation of action from that day's Homecoming activities, interviews from both Irish head coaches, players, and parents, and even an interview with Easton Valley guard Chase Zaruba.

"I'm interested in sports journalism, just trying to get my feet wet and give me something to do," said Vander Bleek. "I thought, 'let's just do this as a joke and see how it goes' type of thing, but we had no idea that it was going to be this popular."

Other area schools' student sections have Twitter pages (for example, Camanche and Clinton), but Evers and Vander Bleek can't recall any of them having a Facebook page like the one they run.

The page has attracted so much attention, even the players are interested in the content.

"We've had players come up to us after the game and ask us when the next video is going to be up, because they're interested, too, which is amazing," Vander Bleek said.

Evers recalls getting recognized at a function back in January, which he was completely surprised by.

"I saw some guy who I have never seen walk up to me, recognize me, and compliment me on the videos, and I thought that was the coolest thing," Evers said.

Vander Bleek is a senior this season where's considering Wisconsin-Platteville or Northern Illinois for sports journalism, and Evers is a junior, so he'll have to carry on the new tradition.

Evers isn't thinking about a career in sports journalism after graduation; he's considering attending Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. for a degree in golf management.

The two will have their iPad and microphone ready to roll Thursday as IGHSAU first round playoff action kicks off in Clinton as the Irish girls take on Lisbon in Central Catholic Auditorium at 7 p.m. The Irish beat the Lions 49-41 in the previous meeting earlier this month.

The Irish have won three of their last four games, and enter Thursday's game with a 10-12 record. Lisbon comes to Clinton with a win-loss record of 5-15.