Wednesday, 17 August 2011 16:26

Onrait, O'Toole, TSN staff anxious to get to Kyle

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Southwest Saskatchewan residents who dreamed of being a sportscaster will have a chance to make their dream come true Aug. 23 … sort of.

People who attend the episode of Sportscentre being broadcasted live from Kyle as part of the Kraft Celebration Tour will have a chance to introduce sports clips. They just won’t be on stage or wearing a microphone when they do it.

Instead, Sportscentre hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole will make sure the crowd that gathers in front of the Sportscentre stage will shout some of the introductions.

“The thing that Dan and I do, that I think is unique, is we get the crowd involved in the show itself,” explained Onrait. “When the live show happens, we try to get the crowd involved in the show as much as possible, getting them to yell out certain players’ names and certain highlights and participating in any way we can have them participate.”

Having members of the audience interact with TSN staff is why Onrait and O’Toole look forward to the Kraft Celebration Tour every year.

This is the third year the Sportscentre hosts have toured Canada with the Kraft Celebration Tour — a 10-day event which has 10 communities across Canada host a live episode of Sportscentre and receive $25,000 to help sports in each community.

The two week trip is so enjoyable that every year, Onrait and O’Toole can’t wait for the summer to end so they can get out of their studio in Scarborough, Ont., and tour the country.

Often, they are taken to communities they haven’t heard of or have never visited. This year is no exception.

O’Toole had not heard of Kyle before the tour while Onrait, who used to work in Saskatoon, had heard of it, but has never been there.

That adds to the intrigue of the trip as they are anxious to arrive in Kyle, to meet the people who live there and find out what makes the community such an enjoyable place to live.

“We really get to see behind the curtain of these towns and see what makes them tick and the people who make these towns,” said O’Toole. “Sure, the scenery is great and the food is amazing, but it’s the people who make the towns tick.

“Each community you come to and they’re just overflowing with people’s love for their towns and it’s not surprising these towns win the Kraft tour stops because of the love these people have for the places where they live and they know the legacy the $25,000 will bring and they know the exposure that Sportscentre will bring.

“We essentially do a one-hour postcard for every community we’re at. We’ll show a Jays highlight or any afternoon CFL games, but the rest is profile pieces of the towns and of the people who helped make the bid go through. It’s meeting these people and seeing these towns and that’s what makes the Kraft tour what it is.”

Onrait and O’Toole will also participate in local events such as receiving roping lessons. The duo want to make sure the entire community and surrounding areas, are on full display during the show.

Even though Kyle has a population of approximately 450 people, they would like to see three to four times as many people come out and participate in the games they have for children, eat all the Kraft food they can and watch the Sportscentre hosts dance and sing on stage before broadcasting the show.

According to Onrait, they aren’t good dancers and even worse singers, but they like to get the crowd energized that way. They will also have a meet-and-greet session after the show.

Onrait and O’Toole also want people to bring signs with any comments about themselves or Producer Tim so they can be included in the background during the show.

“The more signs, the better because that’s what our crew loves, more vibrant colours in the background,” said O’Toole. “It fills up everything and you can put the wackiest thing you want about Jay or myself or Kraft or Producer Tim, and the wackier the better because they really like to situate the wackier signs right in the middle.

“If people want to be seen, this is their chance. We can’t wait to meet everyone in Kyle and to show the rest of Canada what makes that town tick and why they deserve the Kraft Tour stop.”

People who attend the live show will also have a chance to see Producer Tim.

On Sportscentre, Onrait and O’Toole frequently reference their producer, who is real and his name is Tim, during their shows. There is a sense of comedic mystery around Producer Tim as his last name has never been revealed nor have viewers ever seen what he looks like, but he has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter.

Some Sportscentre fans may question whether he is real, but O’Toole and Onrait assure viewers Tim exists and he will be on the trip to Western Canada with them. In all likelihood, people will see Producer Tim if he leaves the production trailer, but O’Toole said they may not know which crew member he is.

“We trick people,” he said. “There are lots of comings and goings during the show with commercials and usually right after Producer Tim leaves the stage we say, ‘Hey, did you just see the person who was on stage? That was Producer Tim.’ Then they’re going ‘Oh, who is it? Is it the guy with the long hair? Is it the guy who looks like Chad Kroeger?’

“We keep the mystery alive because we’ve been sworn to secrecy on his identity, but he is a producer and his name is Tim and he does exist.”

Onrait and O’Toole expect to have a fun time in Kyle, and they’re hoping everybody who comes out to the event will enjoy themselves.

They encourage people of all ages to come as there will be events for everyone to participate in. It’s also an opportunity to allow Kyle to shine on national television.

“I’m hoping to see a massive, massive turnout,” said Onrait. “I hope the whole town comes out.

“It’s a pretty unique experience. The thing that everybody says to us is it’s better than they thought it would be. Hopefully, everyone will expect to have a good time and leave having an even better time.”

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