Amarillo Bulls job is Shelley’s reward for proactive approach

(July 19, 2019) Instead of waiting for opportunity, Mark Shelley seized it. An STAA member, Shelley is the new Director of Broadcasting, Media and Community Relations for the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls.

“I had been searching for a hockey-specific job for the last two hiring seasons, with very little success in finding an opening that would even give me a call or email,” Shelly recalls. “When I noticed the heads-up in the STAA Job Leads email about the current broadcaster leaving the Bulls, I decided to change my strategy and reach out to the GM before there was an official job posting. A day after reaching out, I was interviewing with [General Manager Rick Matchett].”

Shelley made certain to be timely in his replies to Matchett’s emails. “To show that I truly wanted this position,” he says.

The Bulls intrigued Shelley because of the caliber of hockey, the organization’s success and the opportunity to immerse himself in the sport. “I have an opportunity to work in media relations while also getting back into the sales side of things, something that I have missed and truly enjoy. The organization is welcoming, and I am excited to be a part of the family,” Shelley says with a smile.

Not all job applications have been as easy for Shelley as his Bulls application. “I was seeing jobs that I applied for be filled without ever getting a call or an email. Some of the jobs were jobs that I felt that I was the perfect fit. Even though I never got calls back, I didn’t get discouraged.”

A key for Shelley was establishing a network of people to give honest critiques of his work. “They told me why they would or would not hire me, and I used that to make myself better in those areas. I found that, sometimes, the most brutally honest opinions of your work are the ones that are the most constructive.”

Shelley joined STAA in 2017 upon the recommendation of Hershey Bears broadcaster Zack Fisch. “I reached out to Zack to ask for advice on getting into hockey. He referred me to STAA.

“I joined STAA because I wanted to be the best broadcaster I could possibly be. As a fresh-faced broadcaster right out of college, I needed guidance on how to go about the job search and how to prepare myself for the job that I wanted.”

Shelley has spent the past year calling play-by-play for various sports and hosting a daily talk show on ESPN Ithaca. He’s also been the voice of Cornell women’s ice hockey the past two seasons.

Shelly is a 2017 graduate of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. He graduated Cum Laude.

His advice to someone just joining STAA is simple. “I would tell them that they made one of the best decisions of their life,” he grins. “Whether you’re looking for a new job or just wanting to get better in your broadcasting skills, STAA has the tools to help you reach your goals.”

(Visit Mark’s website).

Second time the charm for Fowler in Aitkin, MN

(July 16, 2019) An employer to whom Matt Fowler unsuccessfully applied in April is bringing him on board just three months later. An STAA member, Fowler is joining R&J Broadcasting in Aitkin, MN as a sports and news broadcaster.

“They liked me and said they’d keep my resume on file,” Fowler recalls about his initial application. “Even though I didn’t get the first job, I made enough of an impression that I was one of their first thoughts for this opening.”

Overcoming challenges is part of what defines Fowler.

“I have cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult for me to walk, but I have never let it slow me down,” he says. “I always have confidence, no matter what anyone says. There have been plenty of people who have doubted me because of the disability.

“A lot of people say don’t take things like that personally, and I understand why they say that. However, it’s how you react to your criticism and shortcomings that define you. I say take it personally; use it as fuel to prove everyone wrong. Then you don’t have to brag, your accomplishments speak for themselves.”

Fowler has been an STAA member since 2017. “Danny Freisinger, Program Director for 95.7 the Game [in San Francisco] referred me to STAA,” he recalls.

“I like the tips I get in the emails and the job listings are great – my membership has already paid off,” Fowler grins. It was through an STAA Job Leads email that he learned of the opening in Aitkin.

“Although my ultimate goal is to do play-by-play in the NBA, the odds that I’ll get the ‘perfect job'” before the NBA, like a DI college basketball job, and not have to do any other sport, are very slim,” says Fowler. “This job gives me the opportunity to do basketball, but also other sports too.

“It allows me to get my foot in the door. Everyone should be willing to do anything to get that break,” Fowler smiles.

(Visit Matt”s STAA Talent Page).

Mausner joins Carson-Newman athletics

(July 12, 2019) STAA member Mark Mausner is joining Carson-Newman University as a graduate assistant for their Athletic Communications team.

Among other duties, Mausner will host pregame, halftime and postgame on the Eagle Sports Network for Carson-Newman football and basketball broadcasts. He will also broadcast Carson-Newman soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball and select basketball games, and produce the Mike Turner Show.

Mausner moves to Jefferson City, TN after graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Hofstra.

Recent Central Florida grad Zach Lange is also joining the CNU athletic department.

“These two bring a wide swath of championship-caliber communications skills to us,” Carson-Newman Director of Athletic Communications Adam Cavalier said. “Zach and Mark both set themselves apart in the application process. They are adept, creative and invested communications professionals. We’re thrilled to have them as a part of our team.”

Mausner brings a wide variety of broadcast experience to Carson-Newman. He interned with WABC-TV and Spectrum New NY1 before working with Showtime Sports as a production assistant for Inside the NFL. While in college, he broadcast Hofstra University baseball, basketball and soccer.

(Visit Mark’s website).

Jarecki goes from college campus to night show in market No. 6

(June 18, 2019) It’s nearly unheard of for someone to walk off a college campus into hosting a daily sports talk show in market No. 6, but that is exactly what Matt Jarecki is doing. An STAA member, Jarecki is the new evening host on 610 Sports in Houston.

Jarecki graduated from Northern Arizona University in May. He ranked among the seven most outstanding collegiate sports broadcasters in the U.S. each of the past two years in STAA’s All-America program.

Jarecki recalls the enormity of his big break hitting him on his drive from Flagstaff, AZ to the Lone Star State. “It sunk in when I drove 16 hours to Houston and turned on 610 on my AM dial in my car. Up to that point I’d been listening through the app.”

Jarecki was introduced to KILT Program Director Armen Williams by STAA during his junior year of college when Williams was working in Denver. “I was pretty aggressive about asking him for air checks, just trying to improve as much as I could while I was still in college,” Jarecki says. “Him and I started talking once every month or two, going over how I could improve. Not every PD would take the time to do that for a college kid. Eventually it was mutually beneficial.

“When the night slot opened up at 610, I was made aware of the job, I put my application in, and Armen had enough trust in me at that point to hire me.”

As passionate as Jarecki is about sports talk radio, he didn’t fall in love with the medium until he was 16. “I always loved sports, and of course I consumed sports media,” he says. “But when I discovered sports radio, the blend of intimacy, intensity, honesty and vulnerability with which hosts were able to surround sports topics is what hooked me. I’ve been a die hard sports talk junky ever since.”

A turning point in Jarecki’s career was when a mentor, Brian Rackham, suggested Jarecki ask former national talk radio host Ian Punnett to critique his work. Punnett became a frequent listener to Jarecki’s show on NAU’s campus radio station. The two eventually met when Punnett spoke on campus Jarecki’s junior year.

“Ian was one of the first people to tell me I had a future in the business,” Jarecki remembers. “To a young host, that is a game changer. It gave me an even greater sense of purpose, knowing that if I worked hard enough I could make a career out of sports talk. Since then, Ian and I talk regularly about career advice, show formatting, building an audience and the business side of radio. Ian’s one of a few mentors who has helped me maneuver properly as a young host. He’s also just been a great friend.”

Another visitor to the NAU campus during Jarecki’s junior year was STAA Owner Jon Chelesnik. “Jon educated us about how to properly present ourselves to potential employers as young broadcasters. He also mentioned his service, STAA,” says Jarecki.

“There were two things that really sold me on STAA. First, Jon was so genuine. He’s a no b.s. guy, but he’s also a guy who cares about helping young sportscasters. Second, I was hungry for resources to get better and further my career. STAA provided those things.”

Jarecki’s advice to anyone joining STAA is simple. “Utilize the service,” he says. “In my view, the biggest strength of STAA is that it provides improvement and employment opportunities for young sportscasters who don’t have a program director and who aren’t represented by an agent. Your name is not out there yet, so get it out there.

“My favorite part of STAA is the directory of sports radio PD’s around the country. I cold-called or emailed literally every single one of them looking for jobs throughout my senior year.”

Jarecki won’t need to be cold-calling employers again anytime soon. “Armen told me, ‘You’ve earned my trust. That’s why I hired you. The pressure’s off now. Now, all you have to do is be you.'”

(Visit Matt’s website).

Kervechal, Mroz set for Pioneer League

Kyle Kervechal and Greg Mroz (pictured) are on the call for Pioneer League Baseball this summer.

Kervechal, a 23-year-old graduate from Arizona State, is the new play-by-play broadcaster for the Grand Junction Rockies.

“I’m excited. There’s a whole lot to be excited about.” he told KREX.

Kercheval was wise beyond his years when he reached out to the Grand Junction Rockies immediately after learning the play-by-play position was available for the first time in a decade.

“For me personally, it’s my first big break in minor league baseball. It’s a really cool opportunity for me to get my feet wet and get to know people in the organization,” says. “Everyone has been great. I can’t wait to get started.”

This is a move Kervechal worked towards after graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The STAA member is in familiar territory growing up playing baseball in nearby Parker, Colorado.

“I grew up watching the Rockies,” Kervechal told KREX “It’s a blissful experience to be here now, it doesn’t feel real. I’m thankful to be here.”

His play-by-play experience includes working for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball .

Greg Mroz is returning to the Pioneer League this summer with a new team.

The Northwestern graduate is the new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Idaho Falls Chukars. Mroz joins Idaho Falls after spending last season with the Helena Brewers.

“I sincerely enjoyed spending time in Idaho Falls when I was with Helena last season, and am beyond excited to call Melaleuca Field home in 2019,” Mroz said. “This is an organization of passionate people who put out a great product and have fun doing it. I’m just excited to do my part in bringing the joy of Chukars baseball to fans near & far.”

The STAA member has quickly impressed his new boss.

“Greg is a talented young man with a lot of baseball experience.” Said Kevin Greene, President and General Manager of the Idaho Falls Chukars. “We are certain that fans will love his description of Chukars baseball throughout the summer. We are happy to have him on board.”

Mroz has years of broadcasting experience with Northwestern University, Cape Cod League Baseball, Midwest League Baseball and a year of independent league baseball in his hometown.

Granado new voice of Wilson Tobs baseball

(May 21, 2019) Steve Granado left his day job this year to focus on making his sports broadcasting goals a reality. With his bank account dwindling, Granado’s bet on himself has paid off. An STAA member, Granado is the new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Wilson Tobs.

The Tobs are members of the summer collegiate Coastal Plain League.

“I’m excited to break into collegiate sports after covering high school sports and Minor League Baseball for the last five years,” Granado says.

Granado was the lead broadcaster for the Boise Hawks in 2016 and the No. 2 for the West Virginia Power the following summer. He’s freelanced for a variety of sports in Southern California since graduating from Cal State University Fullerton in 2015.

Granado learned of the Tobs opportunity through STAA. Earning the job represented a breakthrough after not hearing back from several employers. “It’s weird,” he says. “I have been hearing that my emails were starting to go to [employer’s] spam folders. Even the email I sent to the Tobs went to GM Mike Bell’s spam. I followed up with a phone call (as I always do) and luckily he answered.”

Besides keeping his applications out of spam folders, the hardest part of the sportscasting job market for Granado has been getting employers to review his work. “I knew if someone actually looked at my work, they’d realize I was a worthy applicant. I know my value, and that’s what’s been so infuriating in not getting positions over the last few years.”

Granado has been at STAA member since 2016. “It’s how I stay informed of the industry,” he smiles.

His advice to anyone joining STAA is to use the entirety of the membership. “Utilize the resources to improve your broadcasting. Find some new prep elements and see what you like. I’ve tied some of the elements and learned what I needed and what I didn’t need, then modified those templates to my liking (spot sheets, etc.).”

(Visit Steve’s website).

Mixie new voice of Astros short season affiliate

(May 16, 2019) Though Joe Mixie has spent most of the past two years broadcasting sports on college campuses, he’s longed to be the lead voice of a minor league baseball team. Mission accomplished. An STAA member, Mixie has been hired to handle play-by-play and media relations for the Tri-City ValleyCats.

The ValleyCats are the Troy, NY-based short season affiliate of the Houston Astros.

“I have wanted to spend a summer as a No.1 in the minor leagues since beginning my play-by-play journey during my sophomore year of college,” Mixie says. “After working as the No.2 during parts of the summers of 2016 & 2017 for the Bridgeport Bluefish, I got a taste of what it was like, and I’m very lucky that it lined up a couple of years later.”

Mixie spent the 2017-18 academic year as an athletic communications and broadcasting assistant at Jacksonville University in Florida. Since September, he’s held a similar position at Siena College in New York where he is the voice of Saints women’s basketball.

Mixie learned of the ValleyCats opening last fall from a co-worker on the Siena campus. “My boss is good friends with the ValleyCats’ communications director and he does part-time work at our basketball games,” Mixie says. “As the winter went on, I formally applied for the position and went through the interview process. I was able to keep the connection fresh by seeing the person who would eventually hire me on a weekly basis at basketball games.”

A 2017 graduate of Liberty University, Mixie joined STAA his senior year of college. “I was originally introduced to STAA by a professor in college and have been a member for two-and-a-half years now,” he says. “This is my fourth position that I have picked up since joining STAA. Three were jobs that were listed by STAA.

“STAA allows me to stay up-to-date with the latest sports broadcasting job postings with daily email updates, and has ample broadcasting resources that I use frequently when calling different sports.”

Before moving to Siena, Mixie was a runner-up for different full-time college communications positions three times in four months, including a position at Siena that is different from the one he has now.

“Patience, hard work and the willingness to be available have prevailed,” he grins.

(Visit Joes website).

Badders uses indy baseball experience to land Elizabethton Twins job

(May 13, 2019) There is a perception among some baseball broadcasters that calling independent league baseball is less valuable than calling games in a prestigious collegiate summer league. Nick Badders will argue otherwise. Badders has used his experience in indy ball to become the new voice of the Elizabethton Twins.

Elizabethton is the rookie affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.

“In late April, STAA sent out a Job Leads email [to members] with an exclusive tip that the Twins might have an opening, so I started doing research on the team and preparing to apply,” Badders recalls. “The next Job Leads email confirmed the opening and gave instructions for applying. I was ready to go and sent off my application fairly quickly.”

Badders is finishing his junior year at Arizona State University. He spent last summer with the Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association. “Most of my friends at [ASU] were off in the Cape Cod League and I was on the West Coast, broadcasting professional baseball at one of the lowest levels of professional baseball and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Badders states passionately. “At the start of the season, I had to come to terms that I wasn’t doing that, but I am so glad I worked in Sonoma.

“It’s sad that there is a stigma around independent baseball, it was a stigma I experienced when telling people I worked for an indy team. There really shouldn’t be one. It’s professional baseball. It’s a high level of play, too. Sure, it’s not affiliated, it’s not the Cape League, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to become a better person and broadcaster. The experience is so incredible.

Badders calls his time in Sonoma phenomenal. “I’ll preach that all day and every day. I broadcasted over 80 games on my own, while handling media relations duties. There is pretty much no way to get better experience than that. It gave me a lot of time to learn about myself as a broadcaster and honestly, just get better. I even figured out how I could keep score to make my games smoother. At the end of the season, I was a completely different person and broadcaster compared to before the season started.”

Badders joined STAA last fall on the recommendation of several other Pacific Association broadcasters. “Of the eight other regular broadcasters in the Pacific Association, I think four of them were STAA members. Specifically, I talked with Geoff Safford of the Napa Silverados and Scott Armstrong of the Vallejo Admirals (both great people, but broadcasters as well) and they both spoke highly of Jon [Chelesnik] and STAA and the services Jon and his team provide.”

Improving his cover letters is something Badders believes helped him earn the Elizabethton job. “I wish I had done this with more jobs that I applied for earlier in the offseason,” Badders says. “As soon as I saw the opening with Elizabethton, I tailored my resume and cover letter to the job description, which is critical. What I wish I had done more is that I also sent it to Jon [Chelesnik] for critiques and feedback. I had done it once earlier in the offseason, but after a couple of back-and-forths this time, my resume and cover letter were where they needed to be for this position. I think that was the difference in landing me the job.

“Jon helped make sure my resume was right for the position and easy to read, plus he helped me realize I was overthinking cover letters and put me in the best possible position to succeed.”

Badders was initially hesitant to join STAA because of the cost. “I wholeheartedly believed the cost would be worth it, but any extra money spent on a monthly basis for me is worth a hesitation,” he says. “I figured it would be worth it though, I just had to find other places to save every month.

“I knew STAA would give me the best opportunity at getting [a minor league baseball] job. I had perused the job boards in the prior offseason but joined for the perks beyond that. I knew it would not only land me a job in affiliated baseball but help me stay there by improving my broadcasting and making sure my applications were where they needed to be.”

The minor league baseball job is more challenging than Badders anticipated. “I wasn’t seeing as much response to my applications as I expected and as the spring started to near, it became more and more frustrating,” he recalls. “I think I had slightly underestimated the competition there would be. But in that struggle, I had to remind myself that I had the experience and skill required.”

The experience and skill were largely developed in indy ball. “Sonoma was an incredible experience and I’m so grateful to everyone there, especially General Manager Brett Creamer, for the opportunity,

“Any aspiring baseball broadcaster should apply for jobs in independent leagues. You will thank yourself later,” Badders says. “My time in Sonoma gave me the tools to make the jump to affiliated baseball and those are tools I look forward to using in Elizabethton.”

(Visit Nick’s website).

Vareldzis lands MiLB job close to Colorado home

(May 9, 2019) Mitch Vareldzis has landed his first minor league baseball play-by-play opportunity, and it’s just 20 minutes from his hometown. An STAA member, Vareldzis is joining the Rocky Mountain Vibes as an associate broadcaster.

Local Colorado Springs TV sports anchor Rob Namnoum will broadcast home games. Vareldzis will do color at home and play-by-play by himself on the road.

Three additional STAA members who we have yet to publicize are in No. 2 positions with affiliated teams. Ray Jensen is working alongside fellow STAA member John Kocsis with the Hagerstown Suns. Matt Davis is with the Peoria Chiefs and Andrew Chapman is helping fellow STAA member Garrett Greene with the Biloxi Shuckers.

Colorado Springs is the longtime home of the Triple-A Sky Sox. When the team relocated to Frisco, TX after last season, the short-season Helena Brewers moved to Colorado to replace them.

Vareldzis, who is from nearby Castle Rock, CO, followed the movement intently.

“I reached out to the Sky Sox longtime broadcaster Dan Karcher,” says Vareldzis. “He told me they were possibly looking for a new broadcaster for the new organization. He gave me the contact of GM Chris Phillips.”

After not hearing from the team for several months, Vareldzis began applying elsewhere for fear the Vibes had moved on with other candidates. “Then about a month ago [Media Relations Director] Travis Arnold called me and asked if I was still interested in the associate position. I was ecstatic,” Vareldzis recalls.

Vareldzis is a 2018 graduate of Arizona State University. He joined STAA in February. “The STAA name had been dropped in my lap several times before I decided to join. As time passed it seemed every professional in the field I talked with about it highly suggested it. Eventually, I became so frustrated with my job pursuits I bit the bullet and joined. Boy what a great decision I made to join.

“I quickly utilized the resources to retool my resumes and cover letters. I felt more in the loop regarding opportunities in the field I want to be in. I was also able to waive my second month fees because of a job tip I shared! I can’t wait to see where this agency takes my career!

“I learned of several more job opportunities than I would have as someone just viewing the job board.”

A challenge Vareldzis is learning to address is how to communicate with employers. “I always have felt like there was something that was keeping me behind others in my field. It would make me doubt my ability to get a job in the industry.”

Vareldzis has overcome the challenge through polite persistence. “Continue to stay in their inbox at a moderate pace,” he suggests. “Continue to show your interest in the position and how dedicated you will be to the position. In between, give space so that enough time will allow for them to make a decision.

“It is easy to get self-conscious or down on your product, but you and only you can fix it or do something about it. I utilized my resources and eventually joining STAA pushed those products that extra step further.”

Something Vareldzis is especially looking forward to with the Vibes is working with Namnoum. “He and I [have] discussed our backgrounds and had a great conversation about what we are looking forward to and hoping to gain from this. I know he is a Colorado Springs icon and I can only hope to compliment his broadcasting style and demeanor.

“I’d hoped my first minor league opportunity would come at a lower level with less pressure yet many opportunities to grow, learn and build connections. I couldn’t have dreamed of a greater start for my career.”

(Visit Mitch’s STAA Talent Page).

Fourth time is the charm for Benzegala at AM 1100 The Flag

“Alex(May 6, 2019) The fourth time was the charm for Alex Benzegala. After three unsuccessful attempts to land work at AM 1100 The Flag in Fargo, ND, Benzegala is joining the station as Sports Director.

The station is in the same community where Benzegala attended college. He learned of the opportunity in an exclusive tip for STAA members.

“I was initially not going to apply because I had applied for the same position in August and did not get the job. I also attempted to broadcast on the Flag in 2015 and 2016 and it didn’t work out. I thought and prayed about it for a couple of weeks and decided to give it one more try. I’m glad that I did,” he smiles.

Benzegala graduated in 2014 from nearby Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. “I love Fargo-Moorhead,” he says. “It’s a great place to live and has a great sports scene. I started my career as a volunteer broadcaster for a local high school and semi-pro football team in Fargo.”

Something that helped Benzegala land the position is the relationship he’s built with station management over the past five years. “I first met the president of The Flag, Steve Hallstrom, when we both worked at an employee benefits company in 2014,” Benzegala recalls. “I found out that Steve had previously been a sportscaster and I arranged a meeting with him to ask for advice. We talked and he gave me tips like maybe moving to a smaller market and to practice play-by-play as much as possible.”

Hallstrom and Benzegala both left the employee benefits company in 2015. “He [went to] The Flag,” Benzegala remembers. “[Later that year] I met with Steve and Operations Manager Dustin Moore. We discussed the idea of me doing some play-by-play on The Flag. It didn’t work out so I became the voice of the Fargo Invaders and West Fargo Sheyenne High School Mustangs on a non-profit station. I broadcasted for free for two years.

“I decided to contact Steve and Dustin again in 2016 and 2017 but there were no opportunities at that time.”

Benzegala freelanced in Kansas City for the 2017 season while working at a local boarding school. “I earned my first professional radio position in November of 2017 at Alpha Media in Fort Dodge where I have been ever since,” he says.

Benzegala has been an STAA member since 2015. “There are a lot of [STAA] resources that help me be a better broadcaster,” he says. “For example, I try to take advantage of the group critiques as often as possible and I know that alone has improved my play-by-play. Also, my two professional radio opportunities came from tips I got from STAA job emails. The emails are very helpful.

“The more you invest in improving your broadcasting, the more STAA will be of use to you,” Benzegala suggests.

When the Fargo sports director job opened last August, Benzegala was a finalist for the position that eventually went to fellow STAA member Evan Giddings. Giddings left in January for a minor league baseball job.

“I think my persistence and attitude in not giving up when it didn’t work out with the Flag the first 3-4 times was very important,” says Benzegala. “My knowledge of the company and of Fargo-Moorhead was also beneficial.

“I always wanted to be a full time professional broadcaster in that town. It’s great to be coming home.”

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page).