Kate Alvarado, the person ultimately in charge of televising a small-town Texas high school football game in Mason last week, grew up in New York City.
“When we were first told we were doing a game in Mason, none of us knew where it was,” said Alvarado, whose official title is operations coordinator with Irving-based Fox Sports Southwest. “We had to look at a map to find it.
“We came out for the first time in June and surveyed the stadium. We saw how wide open an area it is — and that makes it conducive for TV. The biggest challenge was getting all the equipment here.”
Another challenge was finding hotel rooms for the 85 Fox Sports Southwest employees needed to pull off the telecast of last week’s Wall at Mason game that kicked off the season. Three hotels were rented out 30 miles up the road in Brady.
Another concern was the bats that often frequent underneath the metal roof that covers the home grandstands in Mason and gives the stadium its Puncher Dome nickname.
“They were worried about the bats flying out and causing a ruckus during the game, but the bullsnakes ran off all the bats,” said Kade Burns, the Mason High School principal and former head football coach.
Thank goodness the bullsnakes stayed out of sight and didn’t cause a ruckus.
Scaffolding was used for two temporary towers — one for the game announcers and another for TV cameras. A portable studio for the pregame, halftime and postgame shows was built in the southeast corner of the stadium.
These are challenges Fox Sports Southwest doesn’t face when televising the state championship games from AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
“The size of the town and the school doesn’t matter,” said Alvarado, in her second full football season in Texas with Fox Sports Southwest. “Bigger schools might have more infrastructure, but that doesn’t make the telecast any better or worse.”
Fox Sports Southwest began in June visiting Class 3A Wall, located near San Angelo, and 2A Mason to compile interviews used during the pregame and halftime shows. More time was spent in Mason since it was hosting the game. The Hill Country community of 2,114 residents reminded Alvarado of the year she lived in a small town in West Virginia in a previous job.
“Being in a small town was not totally new to me,” she said. “It’s a neat experience because the hospitality is incredible in small towns. Reese Kerr and Jennifer Wofford with the Mason booster club helped with anything we wanted — things like where we could rent a forklift and where we could get meals catered for our workers. They were our feet on the ground in Mason.”