The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


Stepping into the spotlight

Photo by Nina VanOtteren
Cameron Hutson (11), Sydney Hutson (9), and their father, former MSU basketball player Andre Hutson pose on March 12.

When they step out onto any basketball court, all eyes follow them. Cameras click. Pens scribble. 

They could score 2 points or 20. They could get the ball stolen, or run the play of the night. Their performance is plastered across Instagram stories and news headlines. More eyes. More views.

Hundreds of eyes, including their dad’s, will be watching from the bleachers. 

For this audience, it’s all in the name. Hutson. All eyes are on them. 

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Their story isn’t just about a game. It’s about the eyes behind the cameras and the pressure that comes from them.

PART I: Media Consideration

When the varsity basketball teams step onto the court of a basketball game, they’re met with the roar of the crowd, the bold words of announcers and athletes gearing up to play. 

But these aren’t the only prominent groups present. Blending into the masses of spectators, reporters from around the area stand along the sidelines.

Among them is Brian Calloway, a sports media representative for Lansing State Journal (LSJ). Calloway has frequently reported on East Lansing’s boys and girls varsity basketball teams during his 13-year career at LSJ. Alongside photographers, Calloway watches out for key plays and players to write about.

The ELHS student section cheers on the boys varsity basketball team as they play against Waverly in the main gym on Jan. 11. (Photo by Tianna Tran)

These highlight plays will later be turned into social media posts seen by hundreds of people. 

Reporters like Calloway have to consider what matchups are the most worthy of their time and efforts. 

“You have to be strategic about who you’re going to cover,” Calloway said. “You’re going to spend a lot of time covering the better teams in the area because we have limited resources and the teams that are doing well are going to garner the most coverage.”

Calloway often finds that the public’s interest in a certain matchup plays a key role in who he decides to cover. 

This interest later translates into data metrics that Calloway and other reporters are able to use behind the scenes.

“There’s been a lot of highlight plays with the East Lansing boys basketball team with several of the guys that make highlight dunks and [other key plays],” Calloway said. “A lot of people like to see those kinds of moments on our social media.”

Capturing these perfect moments puts these players directly into the spotlight. Followers of LSJ’s media frequently find East Lansing starters all over the covers of these posts. 

Some may think that the frequent presence of cameras and this media may place extra stress on the athletes, but Calloway thinks otherwise.

“When you’re capturing talented athletes like these guys, something like [media presences] doesn’t necessarily phase them,” Calloway said. “Internally they could feel their own kind of pressure to perform well but I don’t think a media person being there stokes that pressure.” 

After a successful season that saw the East Lansing boys team make the State quarterfinals with a 24-3 record, they naturally received more media attention than lower-ranked teams did. However, this seems to be the opposite case for the East Lansing girl’s team while they overall had a winning record, they were eliminated at the District semi-final against Holt. And overall, they saw less coverage.

PART II: The Social Divide

This coverage inequality seems to translate beyond professional social media platforms, and onto ELHS’s own school spirit accounts, @eastlansingstudentsection, and @eastlansingbarstool on Instagram. 

A significant difference between the pages is their priorities. The ELHS Student Section account is focused on informing the public about the upcoming sports events. They post weekly updates for all sports, making game day posts for basketball and reposting game and event details from other social media pages. The page is run by co-owners Madelyn Zink and Anna Phillips (12). 

A key advantage of this page over other professional media is their ability to not only inform about the boys basketball schedule but also to include information about the girls basketball games, swim and dive meets and even the dance half-time shows. 

The information given isn’t just about the varsity sports events either, it includes JV and freshman games and meets. Now that the @eastlansingbarstool no longer consistently inform the student body on school events, people are turning to @eastlansingstudentsection for weekly reliable updates.

But when students scroll through @eastlansingbarstool, they’ll find something like a plethora of posts focused on boys basketball. But by doing so, not only are they undermining girls basketball, but they are not giving as much attention to every other sport going on.

From data taken on Feb. 22, @eastlansingbarstool made a total of 16 posts about basketball in general, and 15 of those posts were about boys basketball. That means, through the whole entire four-month basketball season, one post was made for the girls basketball team. 

Not only is that platform underrepresenting the girls basketball program, but is failing to mention all the other winter sports. There were no posts made about the swim teams’ successful season, students in gymnastics, or dance teams’ performances. 

Now the difference between a school social media page and a journalist social media page is that viewing numbers matter. 

“There’s an interesting aspect which plays a part in covering [East Lansing] because so many people are interested and know how well they’re doing,” Calloway said. 

If viewing numbers were higher for girls’ basketball, the representation of them would most likely increase. So although it may be disappointing that sports other than boys basketball don’t get enough recognition, Calloway assures it isn’t personal–it all comes down to what stories people are willing to read and potentially pay for. 

And the social media stories back that up–as of March 6, Calloway has published 30 stories covering boys basketball and 23 covering the girls. And on LSJ’s sports social media page, the disparity continues. There are a total of 25 boys’ basketball posts made this season compared to 12 for girls basketball as of March 5 for the greater Lansing area.  

This social media coverage is less than half of the equal media presence promised. 

PART III: Eyes on the Girls

Over the past three years, the East Lansing girls varsity basketball team has faced massive ups, but also downs. In their 2021 to 2022 season, the girls remained undefeated and the winners of their conference, contributing to a seven-year win streak. 

News and cameras flocked to these games, clamoring to capture the impressive female basketball players of East Lansing. For Ayla Bowers (11), a freshman on varsity at the time, the presence of media was noticeable.

“We were winning almost every game, so there was always news and media there,” Bowers said. “It was right after COVID where there was [very little] to no basketball.”

Bowers thought it would be like that for her whole high school career. But then coaches got switched. The team started to lose.

“Things took a turn,” Bowers said.

By the next year, 2022-2023, the girls were ranked fifth in their conference with a 3-8 record in their league. Media presence tanked as the girls faced a disappointing season largely due to controversial coach hirings. 

So, in the offseason, new coaches were brought to East Lansing once again, the third in three years. The team posted a better record of being 7-3. 

And as a result, cameras and reporters have been spotted more frequently along the sidelines. 

Social media accounts like @eastlansingstudentsection on Instagram have given East Lansing sports, especially basketball, a bigger social media presence. Ariyana James (11) believes the school has been doing well with this representation of both teams through their efforts on Instagram. 

“There’s always room for improvement, but I like that [the school] is doing a balance between the girls and boys [media],” James said.

For James, who has aspirations to play collegiately, this media attention is appreciated. James is actively taking strides by working with trainers to achieve this higher level of play. She sees this media pressure as both a good and bad thing.

“It’s fun because you get to see how you can get captured but it also makes you nervous because you want to make sure you’re performing well. [But] it’s [also] exciting to see people caring about sports through broadcasting and media,” James said.

While media presence is a smaller factor in the pressure that these athletes feel, Sydney Hutson (9) finds a lot of the pressure she faces is internal.

“[The pressure] comes from myself because I want to make sure that I do well, and I don’t want to underperform,” Sydney said. “I get frustrated and I feel a lot of pressure but I like to focus on the things that I love about the sport and having fun. I just want to keep going.”

When Sydney finds herself getting frustrated and overwhelmed with the pressure she faces, she focuses on what she loves about the sport. This gives her motivation to keep moving forward to achieve her goals.

“There’s a lot of pressure if you want it and you really want to get there [collegiately],” Sydney said. “Then you’ll feel a lot of pressure coming from yourself to get there.”

PART IV: Eyes on the Boys

Starting small forward Cameron Hutson (11) has a lot of eyes on him when he steps onto a court. Ranging from College basketball scouts, news agencies, and reporters, to huge crowds of students. Cameron embraces the pressure and remains unphased. He is focused on achieving his goals as a player and going to the next level.

“It’s always been my dream to play college basketball,” Cameron said. “I just keep working hard as much as I can.” 

Positively representing his team is important to Cameron, especially during big games. With rivalry games, there are not only more spectators but also more reporters/journalists.

“The matchups dictate [coverage] as well, whereas East Lansing has had a lot of big matchups this year against other strong teams from the area,” Calloway said. 

But instead of being intimidated by all the attention, Cameron embraces it as a tool to become a stronger player.

“I think it prepares me to play better,” Cameron said. “It tells my brain to really focus up and lock in.” 

PART V: From the bleachers

Andre Hutson knows all about what it’s like to face the pressures of the media. A player’s media presence brings them glory, but also controversy. 

Andre has faced both.

As he sits in the stands of his kids’ games, he watches them go through what he once felt as a young player. He watches as the media snaps photos of Cameron’s and Sydney’s plays. He watches as their faces and names show up in stories hundreds are likely to see.

Through all of this, Andre remains a supportive figure who guides his kids through what he once faced several years ago. 

In high school, Andre faced more media attention as the years went on, eventually being recognized as player of the year as a senior. As Andre progressed in skill, more eyes landed on him.  

“[The amount of media] increases as you continue to go up,” Andre said. “A lot of it’s the pressure. When you get to the college level, there’s a lot of fans and people that are interested in what you’re doing as a player.”

Ultimately, the media isn’t just cool plays and highlight features. It’s also the stories players like Andre have to tell. 

“At the end of the day, people read and listen and hear what you’re saying,” Andre said. “It’s important to make sure you’re delivering the message

Cameron Hutson (11) and his sister Sydney Hutson (9) pose with their father, former MSU basketball player Andre Hutson on March 12. (Photo by Nina VanOtteren)

that you want to get out.”

As an ex-player, Andre has taken notice of the difference in media his kids receive. As the media has taken a shift from newspapers and TV news to social media stories, the pressure athletes receive changes too. 

“There’s a lot more to [media now],” Andre said. “The big thing for me is just trying to keep [my kids] grounded and let them understand that they can’t let the outside influences dictate how you live your life.” 

Andre wants what’s best for his kids on and off the court, on and off the screens, in and out of the house. Being a coach and parent was a more difficult task in the past years, but recently he has found himself taking a step back from the coaching aspect more than other years.

“I try to be more of a supportive role now,” Andre said.

Now he wants to take part in the supportive parent aspect of his kids’ athletic lives. So instead of shouting plays on the sidelines, he wants to encourage his kids from the bleachers for the future.

He may have stepped out of the spotlight, but his kids take his place. The eyes stay trained on the Hutson name.

“I want [my kids] to do what they want to do,” Andre said. “As individuals, we all have our own paths and dreams.”


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About the Contributors
Belle Potter
Belle Potter, Staff Writer
Belle Potter is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore. Belle's favorite thing about journalism is being able to accurately share and tell the unique stories of all the students and staff she has the pleasure of speaking to here at ELHS.   When she's not in the newsroom, Belle enjoys swimming, makes jewelry, drawing, watching movies, and hanging out with her friends.
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi, Staff Writer
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore.  Omolola's favorite thing about journalism is hearing everyones stories and experiences, she believes that they deserve to be heard and journalism gives her a chance to do that.   When she's not in the newsroom, Omolola plays basketball, runs track, goes to the gym, and enjoys shopping.
Nina VanOtteren
Nina VanOtteren, Photography Editor
Nina is a member of the Class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait. This is her second year on staff as a junior. Nina’s favorite thing about journalism is being able to inform others about things going on through different perspectives. When she is not in the newsroom, Nina loves skiing, spending time with friends and playing soccer.

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