Leavitt Area High School teachers and staff take part in “The Morning Buzz.” Submitted photo

Mike Hathaway is either the Regis Philbin or John Madden of the social distancing age. Or maybe both.

Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway yells instructions to his players during a game in Turner in October. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Hathaway’s daily quarantine routine usually starts and ends on Zoom, the cloud-based video conferencing service. Depending on which part of the day he pops up on one’s computer screen, he can be seen helping lead a discussion on good social distancing for students or offensive line fundamentals for the state’s football coaches.

The Leavitt Hornets football and boys basketball coach and physics teacher is getting Leavitt Area High School students and staff together as one of the ringleaders of “The Morning Buzz,” a regular morning show centered around the school and Turner community.

With fellow Leavitt teachers and show creators Jamie Juntura, Morgan Hixson and Isaiah Davis, he discusses hot topics involving the school, matches wits with Davis in a game show and introduces video segments with important information to the school and the town.

On most afternoons, Hathaway trades in his coffee mug for a clipboard and brings together high school, college and youth football coaches from around the state in virtual clinics and roundtable chalk talks.

“The Morning Buzz” is perhaps the most popular programming from Buzz Media, a video production course at the high school. Buzz Media started out streaming basketball and football games and events such as the school’s winter carnival on YouTube, then began streaming the Morning Buzz each school day morning, and some weekends, at 10 a.m. (the schedule is being scaled back to Monday-Wednesday-Friday).

The show originated from the school until Gov. Janet Mills ordered schools closed a month ago. The trio continued to produce the show from Evergreen Outdoor Education offices (maintaining proper social distancing at all times at the “anchor desk”) for a short time before going all-virtual from their homes with split-screen technology.

The show has changed forms more frequently than locations.

“We wanted to keep it going, so we decided to make it more entertaining, more like a TV show,” Hathaway said.

“The Morning Buzz” has taken on more of the traits of a local morning show, right down to the coffee mugs. It still includes regular school updates and contributions from students, but also has added contests, art and music presentations, demonstrations/experiments, fitness tips and a game show, the Buzz Media Squares.

Teachers, administrators and school staff are invited on to take part in the game show or talk about a wide variety of school-related topics, frequently interacting with students via a live video chat. Videos are posted on Buzz Media’s Instagram and YouTube pages.

“The Morning Buzz” creators, clockwise from top left, Isaiah Davis, Mike Hathaway, Jamie Juntura and Morgan Hixson raise their mugs at the start of a recent show. Submitted photo

The Buzz sometimes has special guests, too, such as WCSH-TV host and Leavitt alum Amanda Hill, but the focus is on bringing the school community together on a regular basis.

“We try to get as many teachers involved as we can and keep students engaged, and we kind of keep coming up with new things,” said Davis, who teaches history and coaches track and field at Leavitt.

“It keeps us in touch,” Davis said. “It also keeps us sane.”

Next week being school vacation, the trio will continue the show — “What else are we going to do?” Davis said — shifting the spotlight to members of Leavitt senior class and athletes whose spring season was canceled due to the coronavirus.

COACHING CLASS

Hathaway’s afternoons are devoted to bringing the state’s coaching community together after another cancellation brought on by the pandemic.

The Maine Football Coaches Association scrapped its annual football coaches clinic scheduled for last month at Bates College due to the coronavirus. Former Lewiston High School and Bates College coach Skip Capone, the clinic’s organizer, and the MFCA approached Hathaway and asked him to draw upon his experience with Buzz Media to help some of the scheduled speakers conduct the clinics online.

“They had a great group of speakers lined up last month and were disappointed they weren’t going to be able to bring that to the coaches,” Hathaway said. “It caused us to switch gears and think about ways we could go about doing that.”

On April 6, Zoom presentations by high school coaches such as Bonny Eagle’s Kevin Cooper and Thornton Academy’s Kevin Kezal, a Livermore Falls native, went smoothly enough technically and drew plenty of interest, so Capone called on high school and college coaching friends from all over the state and Northeast to for clinics, interviews and roundtable discussions.

Speakers have included University of Maine coach Nick Charlton and much of his staff as well as current Colby and former University of Maine coach Jack Cosgrove.

“Everyone I’ve reached  out to has said, ‘What can I do to help?’ One thousand percent,” Capone said.

The coaches host two sessions per day and have already covered a plethora of topics related to football, 11-man and eight-man. Speakers have included local coaches such as Mark Soehren of Oxford Hills, Matt Friedman of Mt. Blue and Tom Radulski of Hebron Academy.

“It’s been cool to have a mix of college and high school coaches, eight-man and 11-man coaches,” Hathaway, who started posting coaching instructional videos on his YouTube account last month, said. “I think there’s something for everyone. It’s a good way for us to stay connected.”

Hathaway and Capone said the highlight of the sessions is usually the informal football talk that takes place among the coaches after the presentations.

“It shows the strength of the community of football. Everyone has something to contribute,” Capone said. “Guys want to interact. They want to give their ideas and they want to keep football moving forward.”

Hathaway posts the videos on YouTube. Speakers are scheduled to continue through May 4.

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