ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With eyes wide and phones out to snap pictures and videos, members from 20 high school football teams across Colorado descended upon UCHealth Training Center for the Broncos' inaugural High School Football Media day on Friday.
It was a big day for several programs around the state, but especially for the teams that made long trips to the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. One such team was Sedgwick County, which made a nearly three-hour trip from northeast Colorado to Denver. The Cougars are three-time defending state champions in eight-man football, and head coach Chris Michel was thankful for the opportunity to represent his program in the Denver area.
"This is an awesome experience for us," Michel told media gathered inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. "We know it's a long ways out there, but stuff like this is awesome for us."
Added Mead High School lineman Marcel MacPhail, who traveled down from Longmont: "We're just incredibly lucky to be here, and we're really enjoying it and taking it all in. We're here to learn and grow and spread the word about Mead and how much we love our own program and how much we value our town and their support."
While the prep stars and their coaches spent a fair time in awe of the facilities and stared in admiration at banners of Broncos greats like John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe, they had quite a busy day. They navigated a gauntlet of photo shoots, video and podium interviews, facility tours and an in-depth media relations seminar with Broncos Strategic Communications Manager Seth Medvin.
The program went far deeper than the simple do's and don'ts of social media. It included past examples of both good and bad social media use as well as nuanced details of how to respond to a variety of questions. Medvin explained how poor social media practices can derail careers and held mock interviews with players and coaches before they went out for their live interview with the media.
"It's just a great opportunity to be able to be called here by the Broncos, be able to be in the Broncos' facilities, come and enjoy it with your teammates, learn new things," Eaglecrest linebacker Elijah Anderson-Taylor said. "But really the social media training was the most in-depth thing that we possibly could have done as kids."
Following the seminar, athletes got a chance to meet with the media, a unique opportunity to express their excitement with the high-school football season rapidly approaching. It provided a helpful look ahead for several players planning to compete at the next level, including 2017 Colorado Gatorade Football Player of the Year and University of Colorado commit Ty Evans.
"It's definitely different," said Evans, who plays quarterback for Palmer Ridge. "I've never been in this atmosphere sitting in front of a group of reporters. But just interviews, trying to get comfortable being able to speak your mind confidently. ... You definitely just have to get repetitions and get comfortable."
By the end of the day, the visit to UCHealth Training Center left a lasting impression on the high schoolers.
"Being out there, you can feel the atmosphere when you get the chance to come here," Anderson-Taylor said. "You can just tell it's a good culture here. This is a good family with a loving feeling."