The 2019-20 Northridge boys basketball seniors received a pleasant surprise Wednesday night on one of the flagship shows in sports television.
ESPN featured the Raiders on the “SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt” show Wednesday, which airs at 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. The network — and Van Pelt’s show, specifically — has been spotlighting seniors all across the country in high school and college sports whose seasons have been cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. Submissions are made to the show via social media, primarily on Twitter with the hashtag #SeniorNight.
“If you’ve watched ‘Hoosiers,’ in the absence of basketball, we begin with some real-life Indiana high schoolers from Middlebury, Indiana,” said Van Pelt on the telecast. “Northridge High School finished the year on a 16-game winning streak. They won sectional playoff games by an average of 20. Shoutout to their seniors Cam Knepp, Drew Gayler and Alex Stauffer.”
Northridge photographer Russ Draper sent the tweet out with four photos from the team’s sectional championship. A photo of senior Alex Stauffer jumping in the air, pumping his fist was used on the television broadcast.
“I wasn’t even watching it; I was actually asleep because I have to get up and work in the morning,” Stauffer said. “And so, I woke up, at one point, around midnight and everyone was texting me and I didn’t think anything of it. I woke up again (Thursday) morning and, on Snapchat and everything, I saw my face on SportsCenter.
“So, that was kind of cool. It was definitely weird, but cool.”
Gayler, who’s been watching SportsCenter his whole life, would’ve liked to have finished his senior season. Being mentioned on ESPN, though, was a nice consolation prize.
“It’s really cool,” Gayler said. “I’ve definitely watched the clip over and over again. Growing up watching ESPN, I never thought I would be even shown on ESPN. If I had to choose, I would’ve rather have played the season. But given the circumstances, it’s definitely a nice trade-off, to say the least.”
Knepp also didn’t see the show live, but Northridge coach Scott Radeker sent the clip from the show to all the players after it aired.
“That was so unexpected,” Knepp said. “Coach was really happy about it. It’s just cool to see that we got some recognition for the season. … It was just cool to see (Van Pelt) say our names on there. Like, what? That’s so cool. I’ll take it, I guess.”
While all the players wished their season hadn’t ended the way it did, being able to be on SportsCenter was a rewarding feeling. It also gives Stauffer a piece of video that he’ll have forever.
“It still really hasn’t hit me. Like, ‘Wow, I was really on SportsCenter,’” Stauffer said. “It’s one of those things that probably — I mean, it might happen again — but it probably won’t. It’s just really cool that my face was there and I can show my kids that I was on national television one day.”