Doing fill-in play-by-play for the Fayetteville MarksMen, then staying in touch, has led STAA member Drew Blevins to his new job as the voice of the team.
“The Marksmen are building a strong culture from the front office and out into the community and I enjoy the aspect of being part of the engineering that helps some of the new projects work,” he says.
A foot in the door
Blevins most recently broadcasted for the Carolina Thunderbirds of the FPHL. However, it was filling-in on four MarksMen broadcasts last season that led to him landing the number one job.
“I stayed in touch with their owner and texted weekly with their former play-by-play voice, and one of my good friends, Shawn Bednard. Those relationships helped me find out that Shawn was leaving to go somewhere else and I sent a ‘check-in text’ to the owner on Monday. He scheduled me for an interview on Thursday morning and I was offered a contract that afternoon.”
Relationship building is something Blevins admittedly was not good at when he graduated from North Carolina State in 2017. “When I was coming out of college, I was really good at the handshake and the first impression but I had no follow-through with my network—so I would think that shows a little personal growth, too, which is rewarding.”
The fill-in games for Fayetteville certainly helped Blevins land the team’s top job. His success, though, is about more than that. “It’s taking the chances like that, and maximizing them, that can lead to new jobs in higher leagues,” he suggests.
Full-time sportscasting opportunities didn’t present themselves to Blevins immediately upon his graduation. Instead, he taught high school media arts in his hometown of Wake Forest, NC before going to work for the Thunderbirds in 2019. “It’s actually one of my favorite things to tell interns and college students who contact me is that I didn’t [immediately] get the chance to broadcast professionally.”
He continues, “I had to scrounge and dig for on-air opportunities and would score a job with Duke softball or Campbell baseball or ACHA division-II hockey. As a teacher I would teach from 7:50 until 3:45 and then race to my car to get to the venue and be ready to call whatever is was. All the prep work and charting had to be done at night after school leading up to the game.”
When work was infrequent, Blevins found other ways to stay fresh. “I was fortunate to be able to keep my skills sharp in the off-air department with video editing, graphics, writing. But when the jobs were few and far between I would set up in front of a TV with a recorder and call a game from the TV.”
Coincidentally, it was a demo created from a TV broadcast that helped Blevins land his first hockey gig. “I called a game between the New Jersey Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes from the television. That was the call that the Thunderbirds heard that made them want to give me an interview,” he smiles.
Help from STAA
Blevins has been an STAA member since 2018.
“STAA has been one of the best resources for me in my professional career,” he says. “The job board and the job opening emails are so helpful and I think it helps all members get a leg-up on having the chance to score those jobs over someone who is not a member.
“STAA also does such a good job of helping broadcasters develop into their mature on-air voice. From the preparation advice and the anecdotal stories in the emails to the video and audio group critiques on the website, I have learned a lot of information that I’ve developed into good habits or have worked on implementing into my own broadcasts. That information in this field is invaluable and hard to come by through any other avenue.”
Now, Blevins is taking all that he’s learned, and earned, to Fayetteville.
“For me, it’s a privilege to be calling professional hockey in my home state. And now, to have worked for not just one but two pro hockey organizations in N.C. is really special.”