Gardiner native Rob Munzing is the founder and owner of Munzing Media, which has been streaming some old high school football games for fans to view. Contributed photo

Since leaving coaching, Rob Munzing has been hard at work bringing high school sports to the masses with his streaming network, Munzing Media Sports.

There are no sports going on right now. But Munzing didn’t let that stop him.

While sports sit on hold, the former Gardiner coach has been helping to fill the void by airing old football games, starting with the 1990 Lobster Bowl on March 17. He’s also posted the broadcasts of the games from 1991-95 and 2004, as well as the 1997 Eastern Maine Class A Final between Gardiner and Bangor. The Tigers won that game in a snowy classic, 20-6.

“I think it’s a reflective time,” Munzing said. “I thought it would fill a niche for kind of what people need right now. Everybody’s being a little more of a homebody, they’re home at night and there are no live sports on, so I just thought ‘Well, I’ll put these out. If one person likes it, then that’s great.’ ”

He hasn’t had to worry about that. Plenty of people, from former players to parents to current coaches, have been checking out the games, eager for a trip down memory lane or an opportunity to re-ignite some conversations about players of yesteryear.

“In these trying times, anything that can give us a little mindlessness, so we’re not just gnawing at the minute-to-minute things that we’re hearing,” Munzing said. “I think it was the perfect thing to do and the perfect time.”

“This is definitely in Rob’s wheelhouse,” sportscaster Mike Violette added. “It’s right up his alley. He loves this kind of stuff.”

The idea came about well before the coronavirus began to dominate the news cycle. After Rick Hersom, a former member of the Lobster Bowl’s board of directors, died in November, his son Joe found in his garage the first six Lobster Bowl broadcasts, and asked Munzing if he had a desire and ability to air them.

Munzing had an interest, but was in the middle of the busy winter season. Once the spring season was delayed, however, Munzing had the opportunity.

“When this whole thing hit, that was one of the projects I went to,” he said.

There were some hurdles. The Lobster Bowls were aired originally on WCSH Channel 6, and Munzing needed and received permission to show the footage. He then needed to figure out the equipment. Munzing Media normally streams games being played out live; now he has to convert a VHS into a digital file, and then stream that.

“I’ve got some work to do that way,” he said. “It takes me a fair amount of time to prep these and make sure they’re working, and I have to transcode them in real time. If it’s a two-hour game, it takes me two hours.”

The feedback, however, has made it worth the work. The games can be seen on the Munzing Media site and Twitter and Facebook pages, and Munzing said he’s heard from many people who are grateful to see games in which they, or someone close to them, were a part. Some even offer their own games.

“People (are) saying ‘Coach, thanks for playing that game. I sat down and watched it with my daughter, she had never seen me play,’ ” Munzing said. ” ‘I watched it with my son, he said ‘Dad, you had a lot of hair back then!’ ”

One of the people playing a role in the old games was Violette, who was the sideline reporter for the snow game, which Munzing aired Wednesday.

“It was one of those nights where (we knew) we were going to remember this forever. I remember a lot about it, it’s a great memory for me,” Violette said. “The one overwhelming thing I remember, I thought it was fun. I was having a great time on the sidelines.”

Munzing said he’s unsure how much more he has in his inventory, since he needs to make sure the tapes from his coaching days are in good shape. But he doesn’t see himself running out soon.

He says he plans to re-air a 1990 Gardiner-Leavitt football game, as well as a Leavitt-Mt. Blue football game.

“I think, Gosh, I’m glad I was a procrastinator and I never weeded this stuff out and tossed it,” he said.

As it turned out, he needed it. He’s seeing others do, too.

“So many of our moments that occur earlier in our lives are not appreciated as much at the time,” he said. “When you’re younger, it’s just fleeting. … You get a little older, and I think you start to appreciate those things a little more.”


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