By Alex Leichenger
At 2:50 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12, Damiene Cain ’11 knew which college hat he was going to don in front of 80 spectators at Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Host Megan Ward ’13 knew what questions she was going to ask Cain before and after he announced his commitment choice.
But Jack Davis ’10, founder and CEO of CaliHighSports.com, was panicking that Cain’s announcement and Ward’s questions would fail to reach any of the intended viewers outside of the Sportsmen’s Lodge ballroom. The centerpiece of Davis’ plans, a live stream of the video with a section for comments, failed in its 1:30 test run.
For more than an hour, Davis was “going crazy” trying to fix the system, with dread progressively building that there would be no live stream as advertised and that he would simply have to post the video after the ceremony. Finally, with 20 minutes to go before the 3:15 event, the platform had been successfully rebuilt, and Davis breathed a giant sigh of relief.
In what Davis deemed a more personalized version of the college commitment announcements of high school football players on ESPN and Fox Sports, Cain sat at a table next to his father, mother and stepmother, with hats of six different schools he had considered placed in front of him. After fielding questions from Ward, he looked at all the hats one more time before making his choice.
Cain did the equivalent of a pump fake on his college selection, first picking up the Boston College hat and appearing to make the Eagles his choice. But right before he put the hat on his head, he set it back down, grabbed the University of Colorado hat and nodded approvingly as he fit it on his head.
The spectators at Sportsmen’s Lodge, many of whom are Cain’s teammates on the boys’ basketball team, rose and applauded as Cain and his parents grinned in triumph. The star basketball lengthy recruitment process reached its grand finale, with Cain officially becoming a Colorado Buffalo.
Later, Davis learned that some 9,305 people in seven different countries had viewed the five-and-a-half minute video of Cain’s announcement on CaliHighSports.com. Many Colorado fans posted comments of support for Cain.
Davis believed he accomplished not only a boon for his business, but provided Cain and his family with a reward for all the hard work that goes into being recruited by Division I schools. Even better, it allowed his friends and supporters to celebrate the feat with him.
“People have a natural predilection to want to cheer on athletes in competition, and when you work so hard, as these athletes do to become Division I athletes, you want to be able to celebrate your accomplishments,” Davis said.
Davis plans to make commitment videos a regular feature on his website. During the football signing period in February, there will be ceremonies for nine athletes at seven Los Angeles schools. Davis had intended to host the Cain event in Taper Gymnasium, but he said that the school denied his request.
Davis chose Cain as the first athlete to commit live on his website because they knew each other from school and Davis considered Cain one of the top uncommitted basketball players by the time the live stream feature was ready. Davis went to dinner with Cain and his family the night before the event.
“I kind of feel special,” Cain said. “I was the first one to do it, and I’ll always be the first one to do it. I had a lot of support from family and friends.”
Ward, who has a background in performing arts and broadcasting, was asked by Cali High Sports staffer Noor Fateh ’11 to host the ceremony.