Sports Announcing & Sports Journalism Camp Reflection

Posted by on in Blog
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 131
  • Print

b2ap3_thumbnail_SASJ.jpgWhen I was about eight years old, I would play sports video games on my PlayStation, such as Madden, NHL, NBA Live and MLB the Show, and I would act as the announcer. My mom noticed how enthusiastically I was doing both the play-by-play and the commentary because I practiced announcing all the time. Two years later when my mom saw an ad in a magazine for the Waynesburg University Sports Announcing and Sports Journalism Camp, she suggested I should attend the camp when I get to high school to see if I wanted to make sports announcing my career.

After having to wait several years, I was finally able to sign up for the camp during my junior year of high school. The camp was held in June at the school’s beautiful campus in Greene County. When I arrived at the camp, I noticed everything was very organized. To check in, a table was set up outside of the dorms where Assistant Camp Director Dave Floyd, along with Camp Director and former Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare, were there to greet everyone. When I walked into my dorm room, I realized that not only was I going to learn about how to become a sports announcer and sports journalist, but I was going to experience life on a college campus. I had a nice roommate and got to know him very well as we had a lot of things in common; I felt as though I made a good friend.

The camp was divided into numerous sessions offering different topics. During the first session, Lanny had us stand up and introduce ourselves. I paid close attention to what everybody had to say, so I would know the people I would be with for the rest of that week. When we would eat meals together at the cafeteria in Benedum Hall, we got to know a lot about each other. When my parents were driving me to the camp, my mom said that the other campers would probably be sports fanatics like me – she was right. All of the other twenty-one campers were sports fanatics, and that’s how we all became close to each other.

On the second day of camp, it was very cool to meet and learn from famous sports announcers and writers from the Pittsburgh market. They included Mark Kaboly (Senior Pittsburgh Steelers Writer for The Athletic Pittsburgh), Bill Hillgrove (radio announcer for the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh), John Steigerwald (former TV sports anchor) and Paul Steigerwald (former Pittsburgh Penguins play-by-play announcer). During the group session, they explained their individual journeys of how they became successful announcers and writers. What I learned from these guest speakers was that it’s not easy to become an announcer or writer and that the only way to succeed is through working hard and never giving up. There were times in all four of their lives when they thought they should stop trying to become an announcer or a writer, but they kept working hard and knew announcing and writing is what they wanted to do. Eventually, they received their big breaks and were able to live their dream jobs.

After the four guest speakers were done talking, all of the campers formed small groups and met with each of the guest speakers. We talked to them for such a long time and enjoyed the conversations so much that when Waynesburg University Professor Richard Krause told us we had to go eat lunch, we were actually disappointed that we had to stop and leave.

During the breakout sessions, we learned about professionalism and effective live announcing. We also learned the art of preparing for games; interviewing techniques; how to report sports on TV and on the radio; how to read off a teleprompter; and how to announce specifically for baseball, football and basketball games at all levels. If we wanted to, we had the opportunity to be on the radio live for 30 minutes and experience hosting our own radio show.

On Wednesday afternoon, Lanny wanted us to get a taste of the sports media industry, so we did practical exercises as we interviewed Tyler Godwin, a Waynesburg University baseball player, in the TV studio. We were also able to experience reading an ad in the radio production room, recording a radio sports report in the radio office, reading a sports report off a teleprompter for television and writing a sports story with information we gathered from a sports press conference. Additionally, we interviewed Lanny, pretending that we were on the radio, and we talked about sports on the radio with another one of our fellow campers for twenty minutes.

If you come to this camp, you will have a taste of everything professional sports media people do. What I liked about the practical exercises was that the instructors always offered us valuable feedback and told us how to become better at each job.

One special event during the camp was attending and working a Washington Wild Things baseball game. When my partner and I announced two innings of the game, we learned that when it comes to announcing you have to be prepared and knowledgeable. We felt like we were prepared, but then at the end we realized we could have been more prepared. I actually was not nervous when I started because the counselors did a great job telling us to be ourselves and preparing us to not be stressed out. They told us that when they attended this camp in the past and announced at the Wild Things game, they did awful, but that after starting at Waynesburg University as students, they became more comfortable.

During a few nights throughout the week, the campers and counselors gathered in the TV room in the halls and bonded. We told stories to each other that were so personal and deep that it brought all of us closer together. I have to give credit to the counselors at this camp, including Jack Hillgrove, Alex Lyons, Rachel Mangan, Mitch Montani and Brandon Rossi, for making us feel comfortable and making the whole camp feel like a big family. We all became so close that on Thursday night before the Wild Things game we created a group chat, so we could keep in touch after we left. There were also a lot of fun games that we played at the camp, such as Jeopardy, whiffle ball, basketball and charades. We even participated in a bean bag toss tournament.

I would personally like to thank Dave Floyd, Lanny Frattare, Bill Hillgrove, Mark Kaboly, Paul Steigerwald, John Steigerwald, Richard Krause, Tyler Godwin and Melinda Roeder, as well as anyone else who made camp so much fun. They all taught me so much. I would not hesitate to come back to this camp again next year. So, if you are thinking about having a job as a sports announcer or sports journalist, this camp will definitely help you decide if you are up to the challenge to make it your career.

Brentaro Yamane (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)