The Sports ShootersNow that school’s back in session, the guys at Hawaii Stream are at full throttle. The production team – Chris Jensen, Todd Fuerte, Manuel Henriques and Joey Kristine – spend their days voluntarily documenting as many keiki sports events as possible for their website and company brand, Kauai Sports. They work together to capture images and stream live videos of games like Kauai Interscholastic Federation football and junior softball, and archive everything online. They are doing so out of the kindness of their hearts and because they share a passion for sports.
“Our media is not for sale; it’s more like it’s given,” says Jensen. “We are really there to expose the players and the athletes.”
The online archives not only help kids connect to potential scouts, but also allow friends and family to watch the games when they can’t be there in person.
“We’re connecting families and friends who live off-island so that they can actually watch games live,” says Fuerte. “Some parents also have to work two and three jobs in order to survive here, and would love to be able to watch their kids. Now they can go home and watch the game in its entirety.”
Coaches benefit from Kauai Sports as well, because athletes can watch themselves and their competition, helping them uncover flaws and refine their skills.
Hawaii Stream team members each have specialties that complement one another. Kristine, a Waimea High School grad and former student of its digital media program, covers special events and Westside sports. Fuerte is a professional photographer and videographer who takes part in the editing process and is licensed in applications such as Adobe.
“He can take any type of media and make it dynamic,” says Jensen of Fuerte.
While Fuerte covers Lihue and central division, Henriques, who is retired from the U.S. Navy and adept at visual production, covers the Eastside division.
Jensen oversees everything and is the mastermind who came up with the concept of Hawaii Stream. After running KVIN, a defunct local television station, he decided to branch out on his own. At the time, YouTube was becoming popular and videos were popping up everywhere online, so he crafted a business plan based on the same notion. He
started out filming weddings and almost every event on the island, from Koloa Plantation Days to Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair.
“Pretty much anything I could get my hands on,” he says.
In the meantime, he also worked with media students and teachers in schools such as Waimea High, voluntarily helping them by putting their work online. He mainly would assist them with streaming high school sporting events.
“In a sense, whatever they were recording couldn’t go anywhere, so this gave them a medium to connect with their family and friends,” Jensen explains.
This earned Hawaii Stream KIF broadcast contract rights and a Kauai Complex Department of Education partnership that allows them to work with media students. That grew into Kauai Sports, which streams games live so that fans around the world can watch keiki make touch-downs and hit home runs. The concept continues to gain popularity, and a recent KIF broadcast achieved more than 11,000 views.
“It’s like adrenaline to us,” says Jensen. “We’re there because we love it.”
Filming was a hobby Jensen discovered while working at KVIN. Now, he jokingly calls it his “high-end hobby.” His bread and butter used to be as a general contractor, but now he works at Hoike Kauai Community Television, handling small event productions as well as reality TV shows, and is a news stringer for Hawaii News Now, KITV and KHON2.
“I love this more than building homes,” says the Kapaa High School grad. “I make a lot less money, but I love it.”
Henriques and Fuerte, also Kapaa High graduates, love it for personal reasons as well. Fuerte was a coach at his alma mater. His son Xavier Ikaika Fuerte won a scholarship to play soccer at University of Hawaii at Hilo, so he understands the importance of what he’s doing.
“This is a perfect way to stay involved with the game,” he says.
Henriques played sports growing up, but his memorabilia consists of only two photos, so he realizes the significance of his work with Kauai Sports. He was a varsity volleyball coach at his alma mater, and coached junior varsity basketball as well.
“As fun as that is, taking pictures on the sideline is a little less stressful, and it’s the best seat in the house,” he says. “It’s a good creative outlet.”
Plus, the joy it gives others is icing on the cake.
“The look on their faces and the appreciation they have, that makes it for me — that’s what I love,” says Fuerte.
They hope to evolve eventually into an organization that generates funding, which would allow them to concentrate on the service full time and do even more. Still, what they are accomplishing now is commendable, and Jensen, Henriques and Fuerte joke that they are thankful to have understanding wives, Hana, Samantha and Denise, respectively, who allow them to continue doing what they truly love despite the long hours.
“I’m honored to be able to do what I do,” says Jensen.
Visit kauaisports.com for more information.