Ep. 4: Sean Stackhouse on Esports, UMaine basketball, and the Index that Bears His Name

Sean Stackhouse (a.k.a. Stax) is a busy man.

Ep. 4: Sean Stackhouse on Esports, UMaine basketball, and the Index that Bears His Name

Sean Stackhouse (a.k.a. Stax) is a busy man. When he's not court-side at UMaine or MCI games, he's broadcasting Rocket League matches and helping build an esports program at a local high school. But sometimes, he's just looking for an excuse to drive 4 hours to watch a basketball game.

Sean on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StaxRL

Transcript (for SEO)

0:00:00 Lucas: It. All right, we are live. My guest today is the one and only Sean Stackhouse. He is a play by address announcer. He is an Esports expert. What is that?

0:00:19 Sean: That's going well.

0:00:21 Lucas: Oh, you know, I have my YouTube tab open. I should turn that off.

0:00:24 Sean: Yeah, that'll do it.

0:00:25 Lucas: I should mute that.

0:00:26 Sean: All right.

0:00:27 Lucas: Yeah. Okay, we're muted. All right, we'll try that over. We'll start over. We're doing it live.

0:00:33 Sean: All right.

0:00:35 Lucas: He is a public address, an Esports expert, and much better at this than I am. Thank you for doing this and helping me figure out how bad I am at it.

0:00:47 Sean: Hey, my pleasure. It is an honor to be here with the founder of the Stacks Index. The man, the myth, the legend behind Main basketball rankings, and the brother of a coach who beat the holy heck out of us earlier this year.

0:01:04 Lucas: I know. And I missed that game because I had COVID, and I really wanted to go to that one because I was like, oh, I'll get to meet Stacks and Easter. Main sports was there? I'd get to meet those guys. And then I was in bed with a fever of 103.

0:01:18 Sean: That's about what I felt like Cash was going to score on us every time he played against us. So I was relieved to at least see him gone. But, yeah, I'm thinking of Miranda Cook, not Madame.

0:01:29 Lucas: Yeah. You're thinking of Miranda Cook. Yeah.

0:01:31 Sean: They both begin with M. They both end with K. They're the same thing.

0:01:34 Lucas: They're both a long drive.

0:01:36 Sean: They both can beat us by 50 on a given night. It's fine.

0:01:39 Lucas: And that was an interesting game because we had targeted that game as that was a big hillboy game, because the MCI girls, they finished like twelve and six, something like that.

0:01:50 Sean: Something like that, yeah. I feel like with the girls, same thing I think happened in soccer. It's like, yeah, they'll win a bunch of games, but boy, that schedule is rough. Not very point worthy.

0:02:05 Lucas: Yeah, they had a weird schedule where they had I was just looking at it in mid December and I'm like, I have no idea how good this team is because they've played a bunch of 18, one and 17 teams and they've beat them. And then they've played like, teams that finished like 17 and one and like 13 and five and got beat. And I'm like, that's a big range.

0:02:29 Sean: If it makes you feel any better, when the season was over, after they I think they went up to Prescott and got beat, we still didn't really know how good they were, so it's fine.

0:02:38 Lucas: Well, there you go. Yeah, we need some more games for that. So let's talk about the Stacks index. Since you brought it up, and I wasn't sure what we were going to start with. So you're definitely driving the ship here. Okay, so let's tell the story about the Stacks index. This is before you were a famous broadcaster, right? And you were just a famous public address announcer.

0:02:59 Sean: Yeah, I mean, I was doing the broadcasting thing at the time, but it is certainly not blown up to the point where it is now. Definitely. But I got really bored one night, and when I say bored, I mean really bored. And I'm like, hey, you do this thing where you tell everybody what the good game of the night is. So what's the best game tonight? And you came up with there was something like I think it was like a deer ago game or something in western Maine or southern Maine.

0:03:26 Sean: And then the alternative was way up in Aroostook County for Easton and I don't know, Fort Fairfield or something.

0:03:34 Lucas: Something like that. I remember. It was Easton.

0:03:36 Sean: Yeah, and I remember it was Easton, too. Boy, walking into that place was an eye opening experience. That is a really cool looking gym. But I figure, you know what? WHOU is probably going to do that game because it's the only good game that I had up there. So I'll just go up there, I'll make fun of Carmichael for an hour or so, surprise everybody up there that I actually made the trip, and then I'll come home and get home at like two in the morning.

0:04:01 Sean: So go up there. I think Grammys was still open, actually, like the original Grammys, not whatever it became afterwards.

0:04:10 Lucas: Right.

0:04:11 Sean: But place if you'd never been. It was just these big portions. It was amazing. And I've had some big portions in my life. So go up there, stop a Grammys, get a bite to eat, go to the game. And it turned out to actually be a pretty decent game. But after that, you decide. I think it was the next day. You just decided, well, this is kind of a cool thing that I do. I'm just going to call it the Stacks Index now. And so now I am forever immortalized until I do something that upsets main basketball rankings. And you come up with a trick for it'll.

0:04:47 Lucas: Be the not stack.

0:04:48 Sean: Yeah, until I get canceled. It is the Stacks Index.

0:04:51 Lucas: Yeah. So I came up with that pretty quickly, and it kind of stuck. And I haven't really figured out a way to improve it, although I'm sure there's ways to improve it of maybe something like driving distance or if there would be a way that you could make it so that it impact on seating in the tournament, that would be the big thing improvement for it, I think.

0:05:16 Sean: But that would be one day this year that I was going to make a crazy trip. I almost went up to Fort Kent because I got your newsletter, and I almost went up for the Fort Kent Wisdom double header. And eventually, by the time I decided, hey, I might want to go to this, I remembered that it's like a four hour drive. And I like basketball, I don't like it that much. So I didn't go. And it turned out I think the boys game went to double overtime or the girls game went to double overtime and the other game had like a big comeback. So, I mean, both games were epic and I missed out, but I also missed out on 8 hours of driving. So it kind of balances out.

0:06:04 Lucas: That's the sort of drive where you want to be like, okay, I have a friend up there with a couch that I can crash on and come back the next day during the daylight. So the Stacks Index, for people who don't know, this is the thing that determines the game of the day. And it's a couple of factors. It's basically what it's looking for is the perfect game is the two best teams in the state in a one point game in like the 90s, that would be your perfect your 100 on the Stacks Index in that scenario. So I was looking for how good are the teams, both of the teams, because there's no fun to watch Brewer play vinyl Haven, that would not be super entertaining. It might be for Brewer, but probably not.

0:06:47 Sean: It might be good for the end of the Brewer bench.

0:06:49 Lucas: It might be real good for the end of the Brewer bench. So how good are the two teams? How closely matched are they? How high scoring are they? Because like a wisdom Eastern game might be the girls game might be 25 to 24. And as much fun as it is to see a close game, 25 to 24 is not as fun as 79 to 78.

0:07:15 Sean: I had that on the radio starting out with my broadcasting career. Coming out of college. I was doing play by play for WSKW and I was assigned Monmouth Madison girls at Madison. And I was supposed to have a partner do the game with me. They didn't show up, so I did the game solo. And when I say solo, the scoring was so low, I think the final was 22 20 or 24 22 or something like that. There's this stretch, the final, like 10 seconds of, I think Monmouth trying to score a game tying basket and it's a shot. Offensive rebound put back. Offensive rebound put back.

0:08:00 Sean: And the whole time I'm hyped up because it's the end of this game and it's close and the people care. But the subtext behind everything I'm saying is, please, dear Jesus, do not let this ball go in invent a foul against whoever was trailing, I think it was Monmouth. Just please let this end. Nobody wants to see this game go to overtime. Sure enough, last rebound goes out of bounds, madison ball, time runs out. It's like you're just begging for someone.

0:08:34 Lucas: To get on an odd number.

0:08:35 Sean: A, because I'm solo and I've run out of water, and b because this is a perfect example of not all good games are close and not all close games are good.

0:08:46 Lucas: Yeah, that's a version of the Vinyl haven. Parents who were like, this game can't go another overtime because we got to get on the ferry.

0:08:55 Sean: Right? Exactly.

0:08:56 Lucas: But you're like, I'm out of water. I got nothing left. Man, I am out of fun things to say about this game.

0:09:03 Sean: All credit to the girls out there. They were trying really hard. It's just sometimes everybody's seen enough. And in that particular game, we had all seen enough.

0:09:17 Lucas: When I was doing broadcasting in college, the Sid or maybe his assistants or somebody, they came up with what they call the Misery Index, the Misery rating, which is total fouls, plus total turnovers in the game. And they would track that for every game. And so some days we just go over at halftime, so how are we looking on that? They're like, oh, it's not good, because you get some of those and you're just like, oh, my God. Will someone just make a shot?

0:09:49 Lucas: Just please make a shot. Stop kicking the ball into the stands, for the love of God.

0:09:56 Sean: And those are the games where the parents are yelling the most or yelling the loudest.

0:10:00 Lucas: Oh, yeah, they're the most angry. And it's definitely the ref's fault that their kid keeps kicking the ball into the stands.

0:10:08 Sean: It doesn't matter. Guy or girl goes down to the floor, and the parents go, how do you think they got there? Because they've got three left feet, dude. What do you want?

0:10:17 Lucas: Are you unfamiliar with your child?

0:10:19 Sean: Right. Yeah.

0:10:20 Lucas: They are not the most coordinated person in the world. I hate to break it to you. So how did you get into going from broadcasting to being the public address announcer and doing that? Because you do that for MCI, right? And for humane.

0:10:36 Sean: Yeah. Okay. I started with broadcasting in high school, and then when I got up to Nescom, I was asked by Shane Graham. He was the John Baptist baseball coach at the time. He sent me a message. He's like, hey, you're at Hussein now, or, you're at Nescom, and we play our games at Hussen. Are you interested in doing some PA? Because I guess he knew that I did some PA for MCI. Or maybe Wooden Bat League in pitchfield.

0:11:10 Sean: So for some reason, he reached out and asked why I wanted to do PA. And I'm like, Well, God, I've never really done. I don't have a lot of experience. It's kind of an intimidating job. I know Reed Duras is here on campus. If you reach out to him about a month later, I still see this message sitting in my inbox, and I just go, Damn it, sex. Just grow a set, would you, and try this on. So I sent him a message again, like, hey, is that job miraculously still open? He's like, yeah, dude, I was waiting for you to message me back for it. I'm like, okay, all right, I guess I'll try it.

0:11:50 Sean: So, yeah, I did PA announcing alongside the broadcasting stuff, and that John Bapst gig led to me getting replaced without me knowing, because I don't think a new ad came in at Bapst. I think it was Rick Sinclair, actually, and I don't think he knew that I was doing PA. So then he hired Reed a few years into that.

0:12:11 Lucas: You're saying that Reed snaked your job? This is what I'm hearing, yes.

0:12:16 Sean: Under me getting the old Town baseball job.

0:12:19 Lucas: Okay.

0:12:20 Sean: And their first game was against John Bapst. They smoked Old Town. But Dave Utterback was the Old Town coach. He was also the chair of the Maine Baseball Coaches Association. So when it came time to get a PA announcer for the senior all star game, he hired me. That was up at UMaine steve Trimper, the main baseball coach at the time, walks up to the press box, offers me their baseball PA gig, and then that snowballs into doing soccer and hockey and basketball and slowly taking over the humane campus in addition to doing MCI and then eventually Brewer when Utterback moved over there.

0:13:02 Sean: I owe Shane Graham and Dave Utterback probably the most for getting the PA announcing part of my career jump started.

0:13:11 Lucas: Do you prefer that to broadcasting and doing play by play?

0:13:16 Sean: Initially, I did, because as an announcer, even if it's at the Cross Center, when I'm visible to everybody, nobody's paying attention to me. They'll listen to what I say. My voice is a lot better than my looks, so I don't have to worry about looking great for a camera or anything. But as time has gone on and I've kind of settled into this broadcaster gig, I am much more comfortable doing everything I do with Rocket League now and just esports in general, because it's something that you build up over time, especially the confidence aspect of it.

0:13:59 Sean: Once I did it for a little while and I wasn't deemed too ugly for the camera, it's like, okay, well, if they're not going to fire me based on my looks, then I guess I got a shot at this.

0:14:08 Lucas: Yeah, that's so much of it is confidence because when I did it in college and I haven't done it in 20 years, it was those first couple. You're like, I don't think I know what I'm doing, but it's college. And they're like, well, you're the only one who wants to do it, so you and this other guy, and then.

0:14:24 Sean: You get and with esports, I think it's worse getting started out the first few times you're in front of a real audience. Starting out in esports, a lot of times you might work in front of five viewers on a twitch stream or something. You're doing some really small time event. There are five viewers. There's actually only one person in the chat that's interested at all in this. Maybe there's friends and family, there's not a lot.

0:14:56 Sean: But when I started out, the streams I was on were hundreds of viewers, sometimes thousands if the more popular pros were playing in that tournament. And so you find out real quickly when there's a chat right there on the screen where people can react to what you're saying and doing in real time. You find out real quick whether or not you have the fortitude for it if you have thick enough skin. And fortunately I survived that part of it and I made it enough of a strong first impression, I guess, that people started kind of liking it. And as that went on, everything just kind of snowballed into a few years into it, finally getting a proper studio gig and that's kind of ballooned into all of this.

0:15:51 Lucas: Is there a rule of thumb with like because in blogging and in writing articles and stuff like that? The rule is don't read the comments.

0:15:59 Sean: Yes.

0:16:00 Lucas: Because nothing good happens in the comments.

0:16:01 Sean: Yeah.

0:16:02 Lucas: Is the same thing with the chat up right now?

0:16:06 Sean: Rule number one, I don't have the chat up right now.

0:16:08 Lucas: No, but rule number one, they're yelling at you.

0:16:10 Sean: Of course, do as I say, not as I do because I will tell newcasters all the time. Don't pay attention to what Chad is saying. There's a whole bunch of NPCs in the chat. They're going to tell you a lot of things. They're going to say they dislike everything you say and do. If you say something stupid, they're going to ride you for it for a good 5 minutes. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you are constantly growing and improving, especially when you're starting out.

0:16:40 Sean: But then what do I do? I absolutely have the chat up all the time and when I make a funny little quip, I have to wait like 10 seconds for the delay and I look at the chat and then I see lol. Okay, cool. That didn't go over like a fart in church. So I guess we want a few more over.

0:17:01 Lucas: Well, when you're starting, it's probably pretty distracting to be able to look at the thing while you're talking and trying to figure out what's going on in front of you. And remembering people's names, that was always the hard part for me was remembering the names of the opposing team and not getting them all mixed up and then learning how to pronounce them was a whole different question.

0:17:22 Sean: I mean, fortunately for Rocket League, it's very simple. It's three on three. Do I have my notebook? I do. Can I reach it?

0:17:28 Lucas: Yes.

0:17:28 Sean: Even better.

0:17:29 Lucas: Look at that.

0:17:30 Sean: I just keep all my notes. I mean, you're not going to be able to read this, but it's just like this is Columbia College versus UT Arlington. I've got cam, Cosmic, Encryptic, Adverse, Nava, Samba, Ads, mark goal assist. Goal assist. The score of each game along here. And then any notes like, what am I throwing to you at the end of the match? Am I throwing to a desk? Am I throwing to a break with this match coming up? Whatever.

0:17:57 Sean: Any notes about I mean, that's collegiate Rocket League. So I'll try and write down some things about college traditions at each school or just anything about the teams in general. But it can all just be contained. Whether it's CRL or RLCs, it can be contained on either page of this. Rocket League is very simple like that. I am thankful that it's very simple because I've done a few games with Eastern Main Sports doing basketball and football.

0:18:27 Lucas: And I'm like, oh, football is a nightmare.

0:18:30 Sean: Yeah, if I had to make my living doing those, I wouldn't have this house. I'd be living in a box somewhere on Main Street.

0:18:38 Lucas: I did football some, and it's so hard to keep track of the linebackers and everything that's going on. And basketball is just like you can always just rely on who has the ball, which is a nice thing to fall back on. Okay, so I am not a gamer at all. I played Bond on the 64, and I played Mario Kart, and I spent half a semester trying to beat Quackshot on the Sega Genesis.

0:19:11 Sean: Which was really hard, really exposing yourself, which was really.

0:19:15 Lucas: Hard because you couldn't save anything. So if you died, you just died and you had to start the whole thing over again because that's how old I am. So explain Rocket League to me, because I have no idea what it is.

0:19:29 Sean: Okay, so Rocket League, first of all, keep in mind everything I'm saying. It's a video game, right?

0:19:37 Lucas: That part I get.

0:19:38 Sean: Yeah. So it's supersonic Acrobatic, rocket powered battle cars playing soccer in a dome. Rocket powered. They can fly, they can run into each other, they can demolish the opponent, take them off the field for like 3 seconds. You get boost, you fly around. But ultimately it is kind of a soccer hockey hybrid. The game mode that's primarily played, we call it soccer because it's soccer with cars. Imagine.

0:20:07 Sean: But if you were to watch like, a wide angle view of the field, especially off from the side, it would very much look like hockey, except it's hockey with no goalie. There's no dedicated goalie. Usually you play three V three. Everybody kind of rotates around and it's just the ball is whipping back and forth. Especially at higher levels. You can literally score from your own back wall all the way down to the other end in the blink of an eye. It can move that quickly. And you almost have to shut your brain off at the pro level to just read and react to everything.

0:20:47 Sean: And when I first discovered it, it was May of 2015, they were just coming out of Beta. It was free for a month on PlayStation Plus. I was actually renting the upstairs of the house I now own from an old lady that used to live here. And I just kind of put it off and put it off a couple of friends who told me, hey, this Rocket thing is kind of cool. And I'm like, yeah, but it looks kind of weird. And I just didn't think I'd be good at it.

0:21:20 Lucas: Right.

0:21:21 Sean: Finally, near the end of the month downloaded it and it became my obsession for the rest of 2015. Like, I was playing a lot of MLB the show at the time. I dropped the show and I'm just like, I'm just playing Rocket League now, and for the next year I might have played three other games the entire rest of the year. It was all Rocket League all the time. Just instantly got hooked on it. And I did the thing that every kid does when they're playing basketball in their driveway.

0:21:51 Sean: They start doing commentary on their own game, and everybody's probably done it when they play Madden or two. K. You just kind of start doing your own commentary and it's like, yeah, I did go to school for this.

0:22:03 Lucas: Right.

0:22:04 Sean: Well, at least see if there are any opportunities to do it.

0:22:07 Lucas: I do have this degree. Maybe I should use it a little bit.

0:22:11 Sean: Yeah, I'm going to be in debt for the rest of my life. I might as well get something out of it. And the opportunity kind of presented itself in the spring of 2016. And that's when I got a gig doing online tournaments and built up enough of a reputation that we just kept going and going and going and parlayed that into a studio show, into finally just on the other side of the pandemic or just on the other side of 2020. I mean, we're not really out of it yet. Yeah, we're still in the pandemic, but the height of it.

0:22:48 Sean: I was in Poland working on a show and the director of Esports at the time had a video call with me and it's like, so you can't tell anybody until the fall, but you're going up to the main broadcast. Sweet. And the first thing I did was I went to all my friends and go, hey, so you can't tell anybody, but I'm going up.

0:23:15 Lucas: Nice. So do you start by just doing it, like on Twitch or something like that?

0:23:19 Sean: Just for yourself? Yeah, I mean, there were a lot more opportunities to get started in it when I was getting into it than there are now. At least there are a lot more high profile opportunities now. What I tell people, because every month or so I'll get a message like, hey, Stacks, first of all, I love what you do. I want to do this. How do I get started? I told him, the best thing you can do is just go do it.

0:23:45 Sean: When I was putting together like a demo reel, just 5 minutes of doing play by play. I literally loaded up a Bots game and just did commentary over it. I think I still have it like as an unlisted video somewhere on YouTube where that's what I sent into market when I was trying to get hired. And then I would also take a VOD of a tournament or something and record myself doing play by play over that and kind of critique that and see what I thought sounded good, what I thought sounded bad, and just kind of work on it from there.

0:24:27 Sean: And so what I tell people to do now is exactly that. Record yourself doing it, figure out what you like, what you don't like, what needs to improve, and just always keep improving because unfortunately, you have to come to like, the sound of your own voice to do this and go far in it. And it's something that still happens now, even if we go do like the grand final of one of the North American regionals and you think, okay, well, boy, that was a cool broadcast, there's a great opportunity.

0:25:00 Sean: There's still something that I screwed up somewhere, and there's something to learn about. There have got to be ways to vary my vocabulary or find even more ways to say the same thing so that it doesn't get repetitive. Don't constantly fall into just doing straight play by play. Like try to add some insight and some color and kind of have a conversation with your cocaster and all that. It's constantly evolving.

0:25:28 Sean: None of us are to the point where we're like Joe Buck or Jim Nance, right? So there's always room to keep kind of raising the ceiling.

0:25:38 Lucas: Well, if nothing else, you can listen to it and go, you know, I say really a lot, like a really, really lot. Or you fall on not even that because that's kind of an obvious one. Or you just fall on a thing that isn't quite a catchphrase, but it's not you're still saying it a lot and you catch that sort of stuff.

0:25:58 Sean: The best thing that ever happened to me I was on the Rival series, and our talent manager, JC. Should go by Gillyweed, and she would meet with us every week and give us what she liked about the broadcast, what she thought needed improvement. She would ask you, hey, when you said this, what were you thinking about there? And that was the nice way of going, you're an idiot. And I'm like, got it. And she would especially, I think there were three or four of us, she would print out like a thesaurus entry and she would say, what's the word that you feel like you use way too much?

0:26:45 Sean: Let's find different ways to use that word or describe that action. And a bunch of us benefited from that. It was a season and a half where she really went hard on helping us improve. But it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

0:27:02 Lucas: Did you ever do, like, a word cloud sort of thing where you're like, oh, yeah.

0:27:08 Sean: Not actively, but that was kind of the concept where it's like, find different ways to say this and just expand your vocabulary. Even if it sounds really weird, just say it a couple of times and then don't rely on that as the crutch because that's exactly what would happen. I'd come up with a new way to describe the ball being sent around the corner. I'd say, wrapped around the boards. Well, then I would say wrapped around the boards. Wrapped around the boards. Wrapped around the board.

0:27:36 Sean: And I would notice it, and I would just kind of go I'd mute myself and just kind of go and eventually fix it. But you notice it enough times. And I know that if I notice it, then somebody else is noticing it. Right. And so it's just something that you kind of got to learn to correct on the fly.

0:27:56 Lucas: Yeah. And that whole, like, just learn by doing it, it's the same thing in film. Whenever you talk to a filmmaker, they go, just pick up your camera on your phone. It's not the don't have to go get film stock developed. You have a 4K camera on your phone, probably, and editing software that's free. And just figure it out and you will learn 1800 mistakes that you've made and your first, like, ten will be terrible.

0:28:27 Sean: Yeah. And you have to be your own critic because what invariably happens, it happened all the time. And I'm guilty of this too. I'll do a broadcast with someone and afterwards, whether it was good or not, let's go. Hey, good job. And then we'll just kind of go our separate ways. And it was funny because we've had some people come in from other outside of Rocket League and they'll ask, so do we do a POSTMORT after this?

0:28:56 Sean: No, we just kind of disperse. We go to all the different directions of the wind and call it a day.

0:29:02 Lucas: We go to the bar.

0:29:03 Sean: But in professional broadcasting yeah. You kind of do kind of post mort critique how the broadcast went. And what ends up happening is we just kind of do that amongst ourselves. We don't really involve our cocaster unless maybe we're like a longtime duo. Because if I have what I feel like is a good broadcast but my broadcast partner struggles, I don't know how to approach them and go, yeah, you kind of sucked. Hey, let's try this, this and this. Next time.

0:29:36 Sean: It's tough to have that conversation and without sounding like a jerk, occasionally I'll offer some advice if I think somebody's struggling. And we're working together quite a bit, but I don't want to step out of my lane, per se.

0:29:55 Lucas: Right. Are you looking to do other esports broadcasting, or is it like a specialty thing? I don't know how it works at all.

0:30:05 Sean: Yeah, you definitely can. When I signed on with Character Select Agency, they wanted me to try and explore doing sports titles. And I had a few contacts that I probably could have turned into gigs. I think I probably could have done maybe some NBA two K or Madden stuff. It's just finding time to do that while still being kind of on call for Rocket League and I just never took that leap, basically. I think now if I were to do anything with different titles, it would be more like stage hosting stuff and event McGing, basically.

0:30:51 Sean: I don't know that I could pick up play by play for, say, Valerint or Mario Kart or any of these. It would be very tough. And it would also be very tough to establish yourself there because there are so many people now that have already been doing it, and breaking in kind of feels like you're almost trying to rip a job away from somebody. I know I would hate it if that happened to me. So I'm too much of a goody two shoes or too much of a nice guy, I guess, to and you.

0:31:25 Lucas: Probably that out, and it sounds like you got in on like, really early.

0:31:29 Sean: Yeah, very early. I think if anybody wanted to make it to the level that the current main RLCs cast is at right now, they would have to work incredibly hard to do so. Whereas a lot of the guys that are there now got in literally on the ground floor. They were just doing some community tournaments and the first season of RLCs came around and Twitch was in charge of it at the time. And I think Golden Boy was doing some of the talent selections or whoever was doing them and just kind of pick like, hey, you do commentary? You sound okay. Let's go.

0:32:11 Sean: A lot of them are still there now.

0:32:13 Lucas: So what was the process in bringing all of this to MCI? Because you're working with MCI to do Esports there, and I think you're working with some other people, like the community colleges.

0:32:27 Sean: I'm not working directly with the community colleges as much. I'm available as a coaches liaison for the Main Principals Association. I'm on the state's esports committee. But what really started all of this?

0:32:40 Lucas: You're all in with the MPA?

0:32:42 Sean: I am, yes. Not nearly as much as you might like, because I don't have any influence on basketball, but can you fix classification? You know what? If Esports ever goes to classes, then I can help you there. But otherwise, no, I can't influence anything there.

0:33:01 Lucas: I had to ask.

0:33:02 Sean: Yeah. The worst thing that happens is somebody tells you no.

0:33:06 Lucas: Exactly.

0:33:07 Sean: I've heard no a lot when it comes to Esports. So in 20, 19, 15 years ago, I'm at a swim meet for MCI, and our Ad at the time, Jim Leonard, just kind of corners me in the hallway and goes, hey, you're into the C sports stuff? Yeah, I'm like, yeah, kind of, yes. Good, it's coming. The NBA is going to have it next year, I guarantee it. You're going to be my coach.

0:33:42 Lucas: Okay, thanks for letting me know.

0:33:44 Sean: Yeah, sure do just about everything else when Jim calls and asks. So sure enough, then 2020 comes around, the whole world goes to hell, and we really start hearing it throughout the spring and summer of 2020. Like, well, gee, we're probably not going to have football, we might have soccer, we're certainly not going to have the indoor sports. So this might be the only show in town because you can do it from home.

0:34:21 Lucas: You can do it from home. Yeah.

0:34:23 Sean: And so the MPA got a partnership going with Play vs. And they have state and regional leagues. And we started out I wish I could find the photo. I'm sure I could with a little bit of effort. We started out in the fall of 2020 with a room on the ground floor of the Math Science Building, and I kid you not, we had three desks that had the monitor built into the desk. Like you pull like a lever and it flips.

0:34:59 Sean: And the computers we were using, honest to God, this is more powerful than those pieces of junk. I think they would have thought about running Excel. They were that bad. There's like these Lenovo think tank things and we tried playing Rocket League on them. I think we did like a practice where we got the game to run by some miracle at like 25 frames per second. I'm like, well, this sucks. I'm thinking, okay, so how in the world are we going to get this? I mean, I can't ask the school, hey, school, give me $5,000 to buy a bunch of PCs, right?

0:35:48 Sean: Well, I had built up enough money and saved up enough money through Rocket League stuff, especially after 2020. 2021 was a very good year for broadcasting, especially without having all the travel stuff, all the travel costs.

0:36:07 Lucas: You're still doing a virtually in 2021.

0:36:09 Sean: Yeah, so I literally just went to Best Buy and got, I think, seven PCs by the end of the year, just out of my own pocket and just like, here we go, here's taxes, latest tax deduction, go. And that's what we've been using basically. And I think over the past three years now, we've probably, I say we, I have probably put a good 1012 thousand into the program to get it off the ground. And now finally, I feel like we are off the ground. The school fully supports it.

0:36:58 Sean: They just ponied up for the unlimited plan for us so we don't have to worry about paying per player or per team or anything. We're set now through the end of next school year. We have all the equipment we need and it's like, yes, we've made it.

0:37:14 Lucas: Did you broadcast those games too, or.

0:37:16 Sean: Do you just no, it's tough because there are a lot of schools that have a lot of interesting philosophies on what should and should not be allowed to go through their networks. And for some reason on the MCI networks, we can't get onto Twitch. Like, we can go physically to Twitch TV and browse, but when it comes time to actually load a stream, none of them stream or none of them load because of some network setting, but YouTube you could watch just fine.

0:37:49 Sean: The only things I've done for main esports as far as broadcasting goes, I broadcasted the 2021 Spring Final. I think it was dear ago. And Mount era Rat, I think. Or Mount. Yeah, Mount era Rat. I just literally set it up at my computer, came up with a crappy little overlay, threw some graphics on there, and broadcast the games. And this past fall, we finally had our first live Esports championship. It was at CMCC, and I basically did what I do now for Rocket League events. I was just kind of an MC for the start of the show, so I showed up with the white suit, the white hat, all stuff that I got down in Fort Worth at the World Championship. I definitely looked like a pimp and just introduced all the players and the teams, and we won the Smash Bros.

0:38:59 Sean: Championship. And then I had to leave. Like, I was able to introduce the Rocket League teams because they were playing second, and then I had to leave because one of our Smash players had a flight leaving in like 2 hours, so we had to book it down to Portland to get him on his plane to go away for the holidays. Wow. This time around, I don't think we're going to have anything like that because the final is like, April 29 and there's no pressing need to fly anybody home.

0:39:34 Sean: So in theory, I should be able to do like the whole day and do a proper hosting job for it and looking forward to it. Cool.

0:39:42 Lucas: All right, so let's pivot to UMaine because it's the madness. So you're at every home game, right?

0:39:51 Sean: Most of them, yeah, most of them.

0:39:53 Lucas: So you have a pretty good idea. Let's talk about the UMaine men, because they famously have never been to the tournament, but according to Ken Pom, they're only a couple of ticks away from Farrelly Dickinson now. So next year it could be them. You never know. They could be the 16 seed winning over everyone's heart, right?

0:40:16 Sean: You never know, especially now with men's basketball. Anybody who scores 15 points in a game suddenly enters the transfer portal immediately after the season ends. So your starting five is not set until you get everybody on campus. I love this group that we have at Maine now. I'm kind of sad that I'm pretty sure Getty doesn't have any more eligibility because man. Imagine watching him for another year, be crazy alongside, like, Clayton and Tynes and whatever other bigs that they're able to bring in.

0:40:53 Sean: And that has been a fun team to watch. I wish, like, Joshante had come in maybe a year or two later so that he had a little more eligibility as well, because, again, this group has been so fun to watch. And now, finally, you've got Mark Wood at the helm. And boy, oh, boy, what a breath of fresh air for a program that has just been struggling and struggling to get out of the basement of America East.

0:41:19 Sean: And you could just tell he knows what he's doing. He's got it all figured out. The whole team loves him, and they're willing to play hard for this guy. And he's obviously got the connections. You can sometimes tell when a school has kind of hired the guy. They've hired the guy at Maine.

0:41:41 Lucas: I've noticed a lot more chatter in the national press about him, and way more than probably the five years prior combined. When they hired him, everyone was like, oh, this is a great hire. We all like him, we actually know who this is, things like that. But what sort of things have been have felt different? Is it just a sense of confidence?

0:42:06 Sean: You go back to the start of the season and some of the wins they were able to pull off, and even some of the games. I hate to fall into the trap of calling out quality losses, but there are games that in the past decade would be 2030 point losses that turn into five point wins, ten point wins. Games that you'll watch like the top of America East come in, whether it's Vermont or UMBC or whoever. And by halftime, the coach is kind of leaning at the table, chatting with us.

0:42:47 Sean: You guys watch us all year. Yeah, Coach, we do. But now we get to send psychopaths like Duquette into a raging frenzy when we beat them, because he can't believe that Maine is able to play with and beat Lowell, and used to be like Will Brown's punching bag when Albany would come into town, and now all of a sudden, Albany is in a much different spot. We're able to beat I think at one point, we beat the top of America East twice in a row. I think it was Lowell was at the top, beat them.

0:43:25 Sean: Binghamton then took the top spot and we turned around and beat them. It's like, okay, well, these are games we lose by 40 in the past. This is kind of fun now.

0:43:36 Lucas: Yeah, that's always helpful. It's never a good sign when the table says, yeah, I don't think you guys have to worry about winning this game.

0:43:46 Sean: I feel really bad I missed the Bryant game senior night, and the football team showed up to all the games coming down the stretch at the pit, and we had just grasso and Bryant just fuming, like, clearly got under their skin because there's no atmosphere like the Pit anywhere else in America. East and especially for Bryant to come in, very new to the conference and see that for the first time. They didn't play with that at any time in the conference they used to play in.

0:44:23 Sean: Nobody has that in America. East with just imagine how big a football team is in the first place, and they're standing right over you as you walk out off the court. Trust me, it's not Cameron Indoor, but boy, it's about the closest you can get in the Northeast. Yeah.

0:44:44 Lucas: And there's a lot to be said for that in terms of translating to on the court stuff. Yeah, it can throw you a little bit. It doesn't take much.

0:44:52 Sean: It absolutely threw teams, especially early on when we'd host the semifinals, because we couldn't host it at the Cross Center because bull riding was taking over there. Load me into a cannon and shoot me into the sun. But we would have to host semifinals at the Pit. Albany would come in, or Hartford or whoever would come in, and they were not ready at all, especially the first few games we had there. You couldn't hear yourself think, and I know that's cliche. It's overstated.

0:45:26 Sean: No, you cannot hear a damn thing when that place is rocking.

0:45:32 Lucas: I played some high school games where in some tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny gyms where it would get so loud that I would have to scream at my brother from like six inches away just to be heard.

0:45:45 Sean: Yeah.

0:45:46 Lucas: So I can imagine it was probably something like that.

0:45:48 Sean: And I'm surprised the women are as successful at home as they are. Amy is not loud. She is not a very loud, boisterous presence. She struggles to get her team's attention when that place is rocking, but then so does the other team. And at least we're used to it. At least she has. We play a dozen games or so every year in it, so we know. But man, other teams come in and they are lost.

0:46:18 Lucas: All right, so give me a prediction for the boys, for the men for next year. What do you think? Put you on the spot?

0:46:30 Sean: Yeah, everything should be good.

0:46:33 Lucas: We can cut this out if you're way off.

0:46:35 Sean: Yeah, right. It's all going to come down to which fifth or 6th year transfer comes in from East Des Moines Community College. Right. I would imagine that next year, if the men don't host a quarterfinal, I think I would be very surprised. A lot of that hinges on Kellen times maybe coming back and Jaden Clayton being a great one two punch there and keeping the size I've got adding to it. I feel like with a coach like Mark Wood, there's only just this natural progression forward that I'm very confident that we're going to see that team host a quarterfinal. So top four in America east.

0:47:23 Sean: And from there, however long time they Clayton want to hang around, they're not seniors. So at that point kind of go as far as they'll take us.

0:47:37 Lucas: Do you think they could get into the big dance in the next five years?

0:47:42 Sean: I think the big dance in the next three.

0:47:44 Lucas: Oh, wow. That'd be something. Yeah, we could be the 16 seed.

0:47:48 Sean: I would be very surprised if it happened next year.

0:47:51 Lucas: Okay.

0:47:51 Sean: I'd be a little less surprised if it happened in two years, but it wouldn't be like nobody saw this coming. But within three years, yes, that would be very cool.

0:48:02 Lucas: All right, so the women how do the women look? They lost in I'm going to try to remember this correctly the semifinals.

0:48:09 Sean: Yes. They went down to Albany or excuse me, Hudson Valley Community College, because I guess Sefcue Arena was undergoing renovations, so they had to play all their home games at HVCC. Whatever. That court just looks like an abomination. I can't believe an actual basketball team.

0:48:26 Lucas: Plays there, but it looks hideous on whatever I watched.

0:48:33 Sean: It felt like you kind of hollowed out an old YMCA and just stuck some seats in there. But, yeah, they're going to miss Anne. But then I said they're going to miss Door and they're going to miss Mave, and they're going to miss Blanca. And all they've done every year is reload. And I think this was actually even though they didn't win the America East conference, this is probably one of Amy's most impressive coaching jobs because they had to play so long without Anne.

0:49:03 Sean: We lost Anne Simon. There was a knee injury and then had to play Albany, granted, at home without her. And all of a sudden this firecracker named Adriana Smith pops up and she just takes over the season. And she'd kind of done that already, but that was the game. I think we found out just how good she really is. And again, transfer Port will be damned. You hope that she hangs around and kind of stays there because they need her to stay.

0:49:38 Sean: You get a lot of great contributions out of, like, Olivia Rockwood. JC. Christopher had an outstanding season. You've got a good core there that on paper, you'll look at and go, okay, mid to high, America East, probably you expect them to be somewhere in the top four, and then because of Amy Vachon, they'll end up in contention for the number one seed, and then.

0:50:08 Lucas: It'S the one and done crapshoot.

0:50:11 Sean: Right? Yeah. And then you go into the tournament and you try to go as high as you can so that you can play as many games in the pit as you possibly can because that place has been worth a lot of points.

0:50:27 Lucas: What was I going to say? I had a good question for you. Okay, so let's get your prediction for them for next year. Do you think they win the thing? Do you think they win the tournament?

0:50:37 Sean: See, trying to remember who all is like, almost certainly coming back.

0:50:42 Lucas: Right. The transfer portal is not as active on the women's side. Right, right. I would assume that.

0:50:48 Sean: Right. It doesn't seem like it is, but then again, it just gets covered less, unfortunately.

0:50:54 Lucas: I hear that's Adam Robinson's fault.

0:50:57 Sean: Yeah, probably.

0:50:58 Lucas: I saw some commenters saying that it was his fault that things were going badly previously.

0:51:02 Sean: Exactly right. Yeah. Come on, Bdn, with all like, three of your people cover more. I don't even work there.

0:51:11 Lucas: Don't count me.

0:51:12 Sean: It's true. Yeah. Two and a half.

0:51:14 Lucas: I just make some videos before the games and write some columns to try to piss people off.

0:51:18 Sean: Yeah. Again, just because I expect that Amy Vachon could coach a bunch of 8th graders to at least a home quarter final in America East. I think that they should be in contention for the top seed again, just no matter who they have, as long as they have like, Addie there. And from there it's just a matter of can they win the games they're supposed to? Which is against most of America east. I think the basement of America East is rising a little bit like some of the really bad teams out there that we've just never cared about in the past, or at least respectable now, and they can go on runs like at UMBC. That team was not particularly good, but they had I can't remember her name now, but their point guard, who I mean, she was like the Kellen Times of the women's side. She would have just a ton of steals and if you weren't sure handed with the basketball out front, just have active hands and make it a game.

0:52:21 Sean: If they're not in the top two, I think I would be very surprised. And they would definitely have a legitimate shot at going to the dance again.

0:52:29 Lucas: Going to the dance and maybe making some noise.

0:52:31 Sean: Yeah.

0:52:32 Lucas: When was the last time the women won a game in the dance?

0:52:37 Sean: Oh, in the tournament. Would that have been the Stanford upset?

0:52:41 Lucas: That sounds right. When was that?

0:52:45 Sean: It was the 90, I think. I know they've been since, but I don't think they were beating anybody.

0:52:56 Lucas: I thought they won in the early two thousand s I thought they beat somebody in the early 2000s.

0:53:01 Sean: Yeah, if they did, I can't remember. And unfortunately, I'm not much of a main basketball historian. My knowledge of main basketball really goes down to I watched an America East championship game sometime in the my grandparents house. I couldn't tell you who they played, I just know they won it. And after that I'm a kid, I didn't have the capacity to care. And then when they hired Richard Barron, they had an open audition for the women's basketball PA job. Five of us or four of us showed up.

0:53:40 Sean: We all sucked nobody even got a call back. They hired Brett or Brent something. The guy that does play by play for MPBN. I've never had to say his name, so it eludes me how to say his last name.

0:53:55 Lucas: Cheever. Right. Dave Cheever? No.

0:53:58 Sean: Brett Solikowski or something like that. And then that first season, the women's team, they had won two games and I got called in to do they were still playing at Alfond Arena because Bangor Auditorium still existed.

0:54:18 Lucas: Right.

0:54:18 Sean: And so Brett was doing play by play for MPBN. They called me to do the game up at Alfond. It's their pink game against Vermont. And that's kind of how I ended up taking over the job because I think I ended up doing the women's games full time this season after I'm being told 99 over Stanford.

0:54:46 Lucas: Seeing the only one. Chris Lesner and RJ Robertson are letting us know it's 99 perfect.

0:54:52 Sean: So I show up and do that game. The team's won two games all year. Vermont's number 14 scores. Couldn't tell you who it was. I go. Michael augustoson. I look down at the roster, damn it, that's R 14. And I just wanted to but game goes on. We have this these I think they were both fresher at the time. Liz Wood and Lauren Bodine. Just go off. I think Bodine set or tied the school record for threes in a game.

0:55:21 Sean: It was their pink game. The big gimmick was they were trying to raise a bunch of money and if they raised a certain amount, richard Barron was going to have his head shaved at half court.

0:55:31 Lucas: Nice.

0:55:32 Sean: Bear in mind, I don't know anything for certain, but based on what I was told, there's no way in hell we came anywhere close to actually reaching the donation goal. Baron comes, takes the mic after we beat Vermont. Thanks everybody for being there, thanks the seniors and thanks everybody for their generous donations. We reached our goal and by God, they brought the chair out and he shaved his head.

0:55:54 Sean: And I'm like at that point I just kind of knew, like, man, there's a different culture here and this guy is actually just winning over all the fans. Then they had their bus accident. They didn't play in the America's tournament because of that bus accident. And then the next year the turnaround started.

0:56:16 Lucas: Very cool.

0:56:17 Sean: All right. That's where my knowledge of main women's basketball starts from there.

0:56:22 Lucas: Got you. So we've got 4 minutes left before Mackenzie Holmes tips off. And I feel like that's when we lose our entire audience, of course. So I'm going to throw a thing at you. They put you in charge of the MPA for one day.

0:56:37 Sean: We're all screwed.

0:56:38 Lucas: One day you can do whatever you want.

0:56:41 Sean: Go. We have a shot clock because we magically come up with the money for everybody to actually have one and staff it. The sports are more closely officiated the way college games are almost across the board, but especially basketball. Yes, you can catch the ball and set your stance without it being a travel. As long as you're not doing the Kendrick Perkins 14 step travel, just little things like that.

0:57:21 Sean: Just streamline the whole experience and make it. I mean, it is entertainment. At the end of the day, people are not paying $10 ahead to go into the Cross Center during tourney time or even more whatever it is now, just to watch children have this great educational experience. They want to see their team beat the other team's ass, and they at least want to see an athletic sporting event. And I think that's true across the board.

0:57:53 Sean: I think you play up the entertainment aspect of that. I don't know that you can really extend seasons because everything's so tight and the way schedules are or schools are. The layout of the state, it's really tough. But if I can get even just a little bit more power, I consolidate a lot more schools, which I know kills some local rivalries. But I think I read somewhere that the school district of Houston has as many students k through twelve as the entire state of Maine, and they have one superintendent.

0:58:34 Sean: I don't think we need all these different districts as close as they are to be their own entity. I think we can start merging some high schools, merging some districts, and maybe come up with just bigger talent pools in general, and maybe grow the games just a little bit more.

0:58:53 Lucas: Yeah, I mean, that's probably inevitable just in terms of budgeting and things like that. Some of that's going to happen no matter what. If you go to Frank Spanky, there's just a long list of schools that no longer exist.

0:59:07 Sean: Yeah.

0:59:07 Lucas: Like down here we have George's Valley in Rockland. Not a thing anymore right now. It's odd.

0:59:12 Sean: And you don't have jay and livermore falls anymore. The one I'm shocked that hasn't happened. Stearns and Skank and I think they're starting to do some co op stuff, and it's like, when should happen? MCI Nokomis, two schools 7 miles apart, for crying out loud. I mean, I think it's inevitable that at some .1 school is going to merge into the other. And it could be ten years from now, it could be 20 years from now, but I think eventually that's going to happen.

0:59:40 Sean: And God help us all when the entire waterville area decides, you know what? Tired of Thornton Academy being the biggest school. That's just waterville. Winslow meso.

0:59:49 Lucas: Just Lawrence is right there.

0:59:52 Sean: Yeah, Lawrence as well. Erskin, just bring them all in. Bring them all in. Temple can be its own thing. It's fine.

1:00:01 Lucas: All right, well, that is our time. Where can people find you?

1:00:06 Sean: Oh, just about everywhere. I'm on Twitter and Twitch TV at Stacksrl. S-T-A XRL. You find me at main baseball games. I think I haven't been told that I'm doing those games this spring, but I assume I am, and you can find me on Twitch TV Rocket League as well when we have our collegiate Rocket League Lcqs at the end of the month and our winter major in the first week of April at Dreamhack San Diego.

1:00:40 Lucas: Fantastic. All right, well, thank you so much for doing this. This has been fun. I learned video games, which is always a new thing.

1:00:48 Sean: If you're watching pleasure being on here.

1:00:51 Lucas: If you're watching this, do the subscribe thing and the liking and all that bullshit. Because algorithms are a thing, like comment subscribe.

1:00:59 Sean: Tell a friend to tell a friend to tell your mom.

1:01:01 Lucas: Exactly. Thank you so much and I'll see you all next time. Bye.