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Cameras rolling on Monarchs

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian football coach John Montgomery sometimes worries about the impact of having cameras constantly rolling around his players.

"That's certainly a conversation we've had," Montgomery said. "What do you do when the camera is not here? So the camera is not going to be here tomorrow. How do we come out in practice? Is there a drop off?"

He added, "The true test will be tomorrow when the cameras aren't rolling."

At the end of the day, however, the upside for having the cameras there was too much to say no.

The TMP football program is the feature of a pilot video series documenting its weeks leading to the 2013 season, titled "Between the Lines." It is being produced by Prep2Prep.com, a California-based website devoted to covering high school athletics.

With the success it has had in California, the company decided to expand and through area connections, decided that Kansas would be the perfect place to start.

"They wanted to hire someone that knew a lot about Kansas sports and I lived in Kansas my entire life," said Matt Cook, Prep2Prep's market development manager for the state of Kansas. "They thought that I would be good for that. I got hired in May and it's been kind of crazy since then."

Cook is a native of Russell and graduated from Fort Hays State University in May with a master's degree in sports administration. It was Cook's connection to Jennifer Ginn, Prep2Prep's marketing director, which landed him the job.

Ginn, an Ohio native and Ohio Northern University graduate, spent a year as a graduate student studying sports administration at FHSU during the same time frame that Cook was there. She then moved to California after accepting the job with Prep2Prep before hiring Cook as part of the company's expansion.

Ginn is also engaged to current FHSU wrestling coach Chas Thompson.

The reason Prep2Prep chose to feature TMP was mostly Cook's doing.

"We chose TMP because I knew coach Montgomery -- I actually did some leadership stuff with him when he was a leadership teacher at Fort Hays," Cook said. "I knew the way he was and the way he was with the kids, and I think there were some good things there. He was very excited when I got in touch with him about the opportunity."

So far Prep2Prep has aired one trailer and two full episodes, which average about 17 minutes. The plan is to air one short clip each Monday and a full episode each Thursday leading up to TMP's season opener on Sept. 6 against Ellinwood.

"There are cameras running around and they are at our offseason workouts and they have been at camp and they have been at weights," Montgomery said. "What an exciting thing for our kids to be able to be a part of and as they get older and look back on that it can be something that reminds them of the glory days."

Cook, who takes most of the video himself, has been pleased with the first two episodes, but is more pleased that the players have reacted so positively toward it.

"I think it's gone really well up to this point," Cook said. "The biggest thing is that the guys from TMP like it. We don't want to do anything that is going to make TMP look bad in any way."

For the TMP athletes, it's also a good reason to perform their best in practice.

All is well as long as the players can keep the effort once the cameras are turned off, a fear any coach would have in this situation.

"Any time you have this kind of coverage and someone tells a story it puts a target on your back," Montgomery said. "Certainly when the spotlight is on the guys are on and alert and are giving it everything."

Despite the added intensity of the cameras, the players have enjoyed the entire process and understand the opportunity they were given.

"That's really exciting," senior TMP football player Jeffrey Richmeier said. "Sometimes they will just show up at random moments and you don't really know when they are there. You kind of got to watch what you are doing out there."