Get the Story: Behind the scenes with News 14 and U.S. Kids

News 14 reporter Amanda Weber interviews 12-year-old golfer Olivia White during the U.S. Kids World Championship at Pinehurst Resort.

As the opening rounds began for the 2012 U.S.Kids World Championship, there was little surprise to see a media presence at Pinehurst Resort, which is hosting much of the event. On Thursday, the Boys 12-year-old division began on Pinehurst No. 4, while the Girls 12-year-old division opened on Pinehurst No. 3.

Amanda Weber of News 14 came out to gather footage of the events at Pinehurst and was able to chat with a few of the players for a piece that will air on the Time Warner Channel repeatedly after 5 p.m. on Thursday.

We decided to tag along with Amanda to see how she got the nuts and bolts of her story.

10:30 a.m. Amanda arrives in a News 14 company car at the front of the Resort Club and gathers her equipment together. She digs out a TV camera and tripod, hooks on a fanny pack with other essentials, and heads for the front of the clubhouse. She is reporter, cameraman, driver — everything. She’s flying solo.

Amanda is looking for a story. But not just a story of the tournament itself. She doesn’t want to weigh things down with U.S. Kids officials. She needs faces, places and personalities. And with a weather delay winding down and players headed back out to the course, it’s controlled chaos around the putting green, driving range and chipping area. She’s essentially landed on another planet and told to “get the story.”

And that’s what she does. After getting a list of tee times, she has to do a little math. Things are running nearly 2 hours behind. She scans the list, looking for people from faraway places. It’s nearly 11, and she has a 5 p.m. deadline. This will be the easy part ahead of the editing that awaits her. But with a 45-minute drive back to Fayetteville thrown in, she can’t spend a lot of time on site at Pinehurst.

So she gets to work. Heading to the first tee of No. 3, she runs into Olivia White and her family. Olivia is from Los Angeles, her dad is on the bag and she’s about to tee off in 10 minutes. This has the makings of a perfect storm.

After briefly talking with Olivia, Amanda realizes it is. This was essentially a pre-interview to determine whether Olivia would work on camera. She’s articulate and gives thoughtful answers.

It’s go time.

Amanda has to hurry, because Olivia’s tee time is next. As the official starter begins walking up the hill to them, Amanda notices, gives a slight nod and goes to a wrap-up question. She’s only started her day at Pinehurst, and just wants to get the story without ruffling any feathers. This isn’t covering a fire, but it’s a feature that will run several times over the next 24 hours, and she’s got to get it right.

Amanda sets up the camera and tripod and mics Olivia with a wireless lapel mic. This has to happen quickly; the official starter is already looking for Olivia. Amanda wraps up the 3-5-minute interview as the starter is walking up the hill to break things up, not unlike the umpire who walks out to the mound after the pitcher and coach have taken too long.

Done. Now Amanda has to move.

We go with her.

Amanda wants to know where she can and can’t go. That’s where we come in. Amanda sets up on the right corner of the first tee box and angles the shot back at Olivia as she sets up her opening tee shot. Here she not only gets a nice angle of Olivia’s caddie and father in the background, but the perfect angle to zoom in on Olivia as she completes her follow-through. Amanda then follows the action as Olivia begins walking down the fairway.
Everything’s come together in a hurry — Great kid, articulate, great shots.

What else? Amanda could use some film of the family. Caddie Dad is on the course, but Cathie, Olivia’s mom, and Aubrey, her 11-year-old sister, are following in a cart. We pick up Amanda and follow Olivia’s group — and her cheering section.

Amanda likes the shot of the two in the cart, and chats with them briefly on camera after filming Olivia’s group off the tee of the second hole. When done with the interview under the pines, and after the family drives on, Amanda can’t believe her luck. “What a nice family. This is perfect.”

Still, Amanda could use a little more. Maybe some footage of the kids practicing back on the putting green and chipping area.

Moments after getting off the cart while still grabbing her equipment, she runs into Davis Eichelberger and his father, Chip. Amanda introduces herself, and chats with the pair. It’s subtle, but Amanda is sizing them up without them even knowing it. She finds a connection with the father, who went to the University of Oregon. Amanda’s dad, it turns out, spent a year at Oregon. The Eichelbergers live in Knoxville now, and Amanda, the South Carolina grad, gets a chance to talk a little SEC football with Davis, a Tennessee fan. It’s clear Davis can handle himself, and Amanda finishes putting the video equipment up.

Davis Eichelberger, 12, handles himself well in front of the camera. “Energy and smiles,” Davis’ father, Chip, says to him before he goes on. “I speak for a living,” Chip says. “I know energy and smiling works.”

Amanda needs some action of Davis, though. She gets him around the chipping green.

“That was great. He almost holed it,” Chip says. “I hope she got that.”

Amanda’s almost done. She can’t believe her good fortune. “These kids are better with the camera than most adults I talk to every day,” she says.

She gets more footage from Pinehurst’s Maniac Hill, the practice range. We walk her out on the far right side so she can get a good angle of the line of young golfers hitting away. “Don’t get me injured,” she quips.

In the middle of the range is a small boy. Amanda has to get a closer look.

She settles behind him for a moment, camera in hand, filming the perfect swing from the 8-year-old from Mexico. Amanda talks briefly with the father, introducing herself.

She then turns to the boy. “You want to be on TV?”

“No.”

Amanda tries again, but realizes it’s no use. And she’s not going to push the matter.

“It’s amazing how focused he was,” she says later of the boy. “I ask, ‘You want to be on TV?’ And he’s quick: ‘No!’ Then back to golf. That’s funny.”

No worries. Amanda’s got the boy’s swing on camera.

It’s noon, and time to go.

Five hours til deadline.

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