Joe Grates spends most of his time teaching English and coaching football at Cape Fear High School, but once a week he sheds both those roles and moves into a completely different arena: media star.
For the second year, with the help of a cast of student assistants, Grates puts together the weekly “Montee and Joe and the Jam” Cape Fear football show on YouTube.
The idea originally came from Cape Fear athletic director Matt McLean, who sent Grates a link to a production being done by students at Greenville Rose High School. “He (McLean) kept pushing it and said this is doable,’’ Grates said. McLean encouraged Grates to get students involved under his guidance.
Last year, Julia Polk was the student who handled the production end of things while Montell “Montee” Moore of the Colt football team joined Grates as the on-air host of the show.
“It started off with me and Montee just interviewing a different person each day,’’ Grates said. They did one special show for the annual powder puff football game, going out onto the field and creating a Sports Center- type desk and doing interviews there.
When Cape Fear made its run to the state 4-A title game, Grates did a segment where he walked the halls of the school the week before the game and interviewed students and faculty.
There are plans down the road to take the show further. “Matt had mentioned doing it yearlong, moving into basketball, baseball and softball and of course doing interviews,’’ Grates said. “We have a green screen in the library we want to use, pushing the boundaries of what we do.’’
Moore graduated in June, so he’s been replaced by a pair of injured members of this year’s football team, Chris Matthews and Austin Hunt.
The rest of this year’s crew includes director Ashlyn Hall, production assistants Elizabeth White and Kelsie Mullins and visual effects specialist Jacob Cole. Also lending a hand are Cassie Griffin and Nature Gore.
Griffin said she loves video production and thought working on the show would be fun. Gore said she’s been a student of Grates’ for two years.
“He’s just the best teacher,’’ she said. “He’s fun and enjoyable and makes class not seem like class.’’
A number of the students are in Grates’ classes and cite his influence as a big reason they volunteered to help out.
Grates said he didn’t realize what kind of reach the show had until he went to a local restaurant to pick up food for the state championship game. The restaurant manager recognized him from watching one of the shows on YouTube.
“It’s fun and I love that the spotlight is on the kids,’’ Grates said. “It’s a feel-good type of thing.’’
PHOTO: Second row: L-R Cassie Griffin, Elizabeth White, Kelsie Mullins, Nature Gore, Ashlyn Hall First row: L-R Chris Matthews, Coach Joe Grates, Austin Hunt