Q&A with Mike Ferris – the North Catholic sports guy

When most people think of North Catholic, they don’t think of Mike Ferris. But among the many memories North students make, you’ll find sports teams – and that’s where Ferris comes in.

A 1982 North graduate and former center for the Falcons football team, 45-year-old Ferris earns his living in the computer field, where he puts his degrees from Peirce and Drexel to work. But in his spare time, Ferris is devoted to running several Web sites dedicated to North Catholic sports.

Ferris grew up on Marlowe Street in Frankford, went to St. Bart’s and still lives in his old neighborhood. He got to relive some of his highschool experiences while his son (class of ’07) attended North, but thanks to his sites, like The Falcon Nest and North Catholic Soccer, Ferris has a permanent connection to North – something that won’t change, even when the school closes its doors for good in May.

NEast Philly’s exclusive interview with Mike and a photo of his North Catholic tattoo are below.

You run four sites for North sports, and one for Philly high school sports. What made you want to take on such a large project?

The go-to list of North Catholic Sports

Mike Ferris maintains four sites dedicated to North Catholic sports, and one devoted to city-wide highschool sports. Here’s your quick reference list:

North Catholic Football

North Catholic Soccer

North Catholic Basketball

The Falcon Nest

Philly D12

That’s simple.  I love North Catholic and especially the football program.  The soccer and basketball sites were created after the popularity of the football site became apparent.  The other two sites are really blogs, and they give me a place to express myself that wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate on an official team site.  The Falcon Nest is actually a collaboration of me, Tom Crossett (assistant soccer coach) and Jim Savage (wrestling coach).  In addition to commentary on games and matches, it gives us a space to connect with alumni and fans of the programs.  It’s been quite popular among alumni the past year or so. When did you start all these sites and how do you maintain them?

At first, I thought it would be fun to give the football team a little exposure on the web, so I created a site while I was coaching with the NC freshman football team in 2004.  It was the “unofficial” team site of NC football.  When I showed it to coach Szydlik, the varsity football coach, he said, “It’s not unofficial anymore.”

So, since it was now the official team site, I decided to put more effort into it.  After all, it’s all about providing exposure for the program and especially for the players.  The soccer and basketball sites went up in 2008.  As for the funding, I fund it myself.  You see, I don’t have a lot of money to donate to the school, but I have a skill that gives the teams something that they can’t afford.  Believe me when I tell you they couldn’t afford me if I charged them for my time, nor would I take a dime from them.  I’ve been offered money in the past, but I politely decline.  I own all of the NC sports domains. In any given week, how much time do you spend working on the sites?

It depends on the time of year.  During the fall, I’m the busiest, with both football and soccer going on.   I maintain most of the content on the football site and I act as the technical consultant for the soccer site.  The Falcon Nest is something that runs the entire school year.  I do updates for football, basketball and baseball.  Tom Crosset handles soccer and Jim Savage handles wrestling.  In addition to just running the football site, I also help the team out by filming upcoming opponents (scouting) and I track and update the team stats during the game.  I’d say that I spend about 15 to 20 hours a week just on football related issues, and an additional two to three hours on my blogs.

Now that's devotion. Ferris sports a Falcon tattoo on his right calf. Photo courtesy of Mike Ferris.
(Now that's devotion. Ferris sports a Falcon tattoo on his right calf. Photo courtesy of Mike Ferris.)

Right now you’ve got separate sites for the big fall and winter sports – football, basketball and soccer – do you see yourself building new sites throughout the season, say for hockey, baseball and other sports?

I don’t offer to build the sites anymore, but if a coach were to ask, I’d seriously consider it.

Do you think it will get to a point where you’ll need more help maintaining the sites as they grow? How long do you plan to continue the sites, and who will help with them?

That’s funny that you ask.  I often write about my “staff” in my blog.  Or, I’ll mention one of our young staffers who did something funny.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been asked by several people about the number of people I have working on my sites with me.  In reality, it’s just me. Well, Tom and Jim help with the soccer site and The Falcon Nest, but I do all of the development of the sites and most of the content.  I’ll do it as long as North is open, or until I’m unable to physically do them myself, whichever comes first.  I’m a fan for life.  I even have a tattoo of the NC Falcon on my calf.  North Catholic helped make me who I am today, and I’m proud to be part of the tradition there, and I’ll do whatever I can to help them be successful in the future.

Of all the sites, do you have a favorite? Which is the most popular among readers?

My favorite site is The Falcon Nest, where I get to connect with alumni through my observations of sporting events.  It’s more of a blog about the sights and sounds of the games rather than the game itself.  I write with a little humor, and occasionally get a little serious (like an article I wrote over the summer after our former baseball coach told some untruths about North in a Daily News story).  The most popular is the football site.  The number of visitors per week breaks down as follows (these are “in season” stats):

  • NorthCatholicFootball.com – 1,100-1,200 (Aug. – Nov.)
  • NorthCatholicSoccer.com – 800-800 (Aug. – Nov.)
  • NorthCatholicBasketball.com – 700-800 (Dec. – Mar.)
  • TheFalconNest.com – 500-600 (Sept. – June)

How did you feel –as an alum and a site manager – when you heard North will close for good in May?

Well, as you can imagine, I’m very sad about the announcement to close the school.  After all, I’m an alum, as well as a father of a North grad (Michael Jr, 2007).  But, instead of venting my anger publicly, I’ve decided to step back and look at the entire situation and how we got to where we are right now.  I’m putting together a blog entry to discuss the reasons (not blame) for North closing.  But, it may take a couple of days, as right now it’s a very emotional time for me.

As for the sites, I’m not sure yet.  I’ll talk to the coaches of each sport first.  I’m sure they’ll want the sites to last until the end of the season.  Since football is my first love, and that being the most popular site, I’ll begin the process of posting as much history of our football team as possible, and I’ll keep it up and running as long as there is interest.  The domains all come up for renewal in 2011, but the hosting sites all expire in May 2010.  I guess I’ll have until May to decide if I leave them up, and the following year if I want to give up the domain names.

I’ll be keeping the PhillyD12 domain, as I expect to continue blogging about city football.  Hell, I may even expand my time on that blog, as I’ll have more of that in the future.  Or, I’ll write for another site (Eastern PA Football, or PA Football News, or Ted Silary.  I’ll end up writing and giving my opinion in some fashion somewhere, just no longer for North Catholic.

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