Tony Wrisinger and Brian Johnston are two metro area pioneers when it comes to promoting high school sports.
The longtime friends founded Vision Sports, an award-winning broadcast team that has been the voice of Blue Springs and Blue Springs South football on KCWJ 1030 AM since 1997. During the past 17 years Vision Sports has been recognized by the Missouri Broadcasters Association 12 times as the best college or high school play-by-play broadcast in Missouri.
Starting in 2001, Vision Sports and the Blue Springs School District teamed up to air the television rebroadcasts of the Vision Sports Game of the Week on the BSSD Television Network (Comcast 15 and ATT U-Verse 99) in Eastern Jackson County. These rebroadcasts air at 10:30 p.m. the same night of the game, and also air six additional times throughout Saturday evening.
Because of their strong ties to the prep football community, Wrisinger and Johnston were named co-executive directors of the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association seven years ago, and that association has grown to more than 110 coaches, representing 102 metro area schools from both sides of the state line, under their guidance and leadership.
Wrisinger and Johnston recently brokered a deal that would make Blue Springs and Blue Springs South high schools the home of the Kansas vs. Missouri High School All-Star Football game for the next four years. This year's game will be played June 19 at Peve Stadium on the campus of Blue Springs High School.
Tickets to the game are $10 for adults and $5 for senior/students (with an ID). They are available at the gate the day of the game.
Q: How did you get the all-star game in your own backyard for the next four years?
Johnston: “It was Tony's idea, and it was a great idea. Blue Springs is the hotbed for prep football with Blue Springs winning the last two big class state championships and South winning the year before that. We had to convince the coaches on the board to play the game here, and they were unanimous in moving the game to Blue Springs.”
Wrisinger: “When we made the proposal to the football coaches association they agreed that this would be a great site for the game and the Blue Springs School District was very supportive of the idea. I talked with Kelly (Donohoe, Blue Springs coach), Greg (Oder, Blue Springs South coach), Mark Bubalo (Blue Springs district activities director) and Dr. (Paul) Kinder and Dr. (Jim) Findley and they thought it was a great idea. Now, the game is just over a week away and we couldn't be any more excited than to have it call Blue Springs home the next four years.”
Q: Do you have anything special planned to promote the game in the area?
Wrisinger: “Any area Little League football player can wear their jersey or a shirt from their team and get into the game free with a paid adult. We want the kids to see this game because they are the future of area football. We're going to seat them where the Golden Regiment sits and TWC SportsChannel is going to show them during the broadcast.”
Q: You have a lot on your plate. Brian, you work for the Kansas City Chiefs and PrepsKC and Tony, you work for Vision Sports along with Sideliner Sports, which produces many area radio shows on KCWJ 1030 AM, including the Sonic Locker Room, The Puck Stops Here and Off the Wall with Tim Crone. Why get involved with the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association?
Johnston: “It was just a natural progression. The association has grown to 102 schools and 110 coaches in the past seven years and I would say it's one of the strongest high school associations in the Midwest. Early on, it was tough to get coaches on board. Now, we have a great board and the participation is pretty amazing. It's hard to name an area school that's football coach is not in the association.”
Wrisinger: “It's rewarding to see the association grow and thrive and make such an impact on so many young people in the metro area. McCarthy Automotive donates 22 $1,000 scholarships to seniors who play for schools that are represented by the GKCFCA. We have a banquet every year and to see the look on those athletes faces when they receive their scholarship makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
Q: How do you make an all-star game a success?
Wrisinger: “We have great coaches, great volunteers, the Blue Springs School District has been amazing to work with and we have great sponsors like the City of Blue Springs, Lunar Bowl, 1030 AM KCWJ, Blue Springs Little League Football, St. Mary's Medical Center, Liddle’s Sports and Buy Blue Springs. And it's being played in Blue Springs, a community that is passionate about high school football. And fans can come see the best seniors from both sides of the state. It really does offer fans a lot of entertainment.”