The schedule and time commitment are relentless. But a group of Carmel High School seniors love what they do and take satisfaction in knowing they are bringing recognition to their fellow students and school.
In January 2022, the idea that would become Carmel Hounds HQ, a group of students who produce content for and manage 50 social media accounts about Carmel High School sports, was hatched. By February of that year, five students who are now seniors – Alex Gastineau, Andrew Jones, Anna Kindsfather, Will Simmonds and Claire Swathwood – had Carmel Hounds HQ up and running.
The group, now with 11 members, works with the school’s student-athletes, coaches and athletics department (in particular assistant athletics director Jeff Hester, who along with Simmonds came up with the idea) to write posts, take photos, produce graphics and videos, report results and monitor the comments on Carmel sports social media accounts on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and TikTok to make sure they are safe and welcoming.
The task is time-consuming, but the objective is simple.
“It was started to give high school athletes social exposure and build a brand for Carmel athletics,” Simmonds said.
Unlike with daily or weekly publications, social media never stops. And with 23 varsity sports to cover, those in Carmel Hounds HQ must frequently check the accounts, monitor the input they are getting from each sports program and make updates on all platforms.
“We put a very large amount of time into what we do, but I genuinely don’t think any of us would want it any other way,” Kindsfather said. “When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Because Carmel Hounds HQ is student-run, it has been given autonomy to establish its own protocol and guidelines.
“We do have an honor system with (the athletics department), where they trust that we know what is right and wrong to post and they give us the power to do what we want to do,” Swathwood said.
“Everything that is posted on the pages is produced by us,” Jones said. “We choose to do everything ourselves to ensure that our brand is consistent.”
Among the job’s challenges: honoring the group’s motto, “make minor sports feel major,” by providing balanced coverage; monitoring the accounts for hateful comments and spam live stream links; and, as Gastineau put it, “getting this team set up for the future and teaching the next generation.”
Working on Carmel Hounds HQ will serve the seniors well after graduation. Kindsfather plans to major in sports media and minor in sports management in college. Simmonds intends to major in sports media and make it his career. Jones said he doesn’t plan on majoring in media in college, but he will continue to take photos and utilize the design skills he has developed. Gastineau will major in sports media at Indiana University and intern at the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology. Swathwood will play golf for the University of Memphis and major in strategic media with a concentration in public relations.
“It’s an experience like no other,” Simmonds said of working on Carmel Hounds HQ. “It has led to multiple opportunities I never thought I’d have. It’s definitely a program I will never forget.”