As wonderful as a sports broadcasting career can be, it’s human nature to always want more. Jake Griffith admits, “I used to spend a lot of time focusing on what I haven’t done or where I haven’t been, so much so that I lost sight of all I’d accomplished. I saw my peers getting awesome opportunities. While I was happy for them, I kept wondering when it would be my time.
Griffith’s time is now. He has been hired to broadcast Minnesota Aurora FC games on the regional FOX affiliate and on Hulu.
The opportunity was emailed to STAA members on March 17th. Griffith applied immediately. “I heard back pretty quickly,” he recalls.
Griffith is excited to move to the Twin Cities. “Working for a professional club or team in an on-air capacity is a huge boost to the resume and demo tape. Location was also key. Minneapolis is three-times the size of the last state I lived in, there are numerous professional teams, a Power 5 university and an international airport. The location factor also meant the possibility for more freelance opportunities.”
Fueling the passion
Griffith moves to The Land of 10,000 Lakes from Huntington, WV where he was a broadcaster and multimedia reporter for Marshall University. He started there in 2017, the same year that Coach Chris Grassie took over the men’s soccer program. “Fast forward five years and he led them to their first-ever National Championship,” Griffith states. “I was fortunate to call every home match for all five of the years Grassie built the program up from sub-.500 to top of the nation. He even made sure I received a ring!”
A 2014 trip to England also fueled Griffith’s soccer passion. “I had a chance to visit Selhurst Park and watch Crystal Palace FC on Boxing Day. That was a big part of it,” he recalls.”
Versatility on and off the mic has been important in Griffith advancing his career. “While play-by-play is my favorite, my ability to report, host shows/podcasts and write, as well as work behind the camera — shoot & edit videos, manage websites and social media and graphic design — has set me apart.
“But also, my versatility on the mic is something plenty of people have pointed out. Sure, I’ve called football, basketball, baseball, etc., but I’ve also called swimming, tennis and track. It never hurts to broaden your horizons, especially in this career field. Just because you agree to a swimming or track gig doesn’t mean you’ll get pigeonholed into that forever. But by saying yes and crushing it, you just might catch the attention of someone who could give you an opportunity calling a sport you love.”
Before accepting the Aurora FC position, Griffith turned down an opportunity to join the sports staff at a West Virginia TV station. “I’ve known I wanted to be a play-by-play broadcaster since I was eight years old, so I’ve essentially structured my entire life around achieving that goal,” he states. “The primary reasons I quit Marshall was unhappiness and career stagnation, even though there were play-by-play aspects of it. It was definitely a difficult decision to walk away from that. But I knew it was time to gamble on myself, which is what led me to the [TV] opportunity. But before taking it, I asked myself if quitting the Marshall job to take a job that wasn’t even in the play-by-play field (and was not going to allow me to freelance) was really going to be the best thing for my career. I ultimately decided it wasn’t.”
Griffith has been an STAA member since 2018. One especially valuable part of the membership for him is the Sports TV Directory inside the STAA Member Community. It lists contact information for the executives in charge of hiring talent at TV networks across the country. “It’s been my experience that cold emailing can be really beneficial,” Griffith states. “Even if it hasn’t resulted in specific job opportunities, getting connected with those at networks and getting my reel in front of them, getting feedback, etc. has been crucial to my career growth.”
Now when Griffith reflects upon his career, his accomplishments will seem more tangible. “I want to succeed at this career more than I want to breathe. And being hungry for more is never a bad thing. But it is also okay to admit that you’ve come a long way. After all, no two people take the same path to get to the top. There isn’t a blueprint or manual to success for this.
“The saying that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ is so true.”