Though it’s hard for a recent college grad to land a DI play-by-play job, it’s not impossible. Brian McLaughlin has proved that. The 2020 Penn State grad and STAA member is the new voice of University of Vermont men’s basketball.
“I am incredibly fortunate to be at a Division One program almost directly out of college. That was really almost beyond my wildest dreams just a few months ago,” McLaughlin smiles.
STAA members now broadcast both men’s and women’s basketball at Vermont. Maura Sheridan is entering her third season as the voice of Catamount women’s hoops.
In 2016, then-STAA member Tyler Terens was hired to call UV women’s games.
The Catamounts broadcasting job opened when McLaughlin’s fellow STAA member Jake Marsh left to work full-time at Barstool Sports. “There wasn’t an official opening or posting, and I thought it would be a long shot, but I thought ‘why not send my information in?'” McLaughlin recalls.
He contacted people at UVM he thought might be involved in the hiring process. “I was just kind of taking a shot in the dark,” he says. “They let me know they were forwarding my information to Learfield/IMG College, who would be conducting the search.”
McLaughlin continued to keep his name in front of the decision makers. “I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks and I sent a video follow up. Another few weeks and another follow up. I still didn’t hear anything back for a while.”
When McLaughlin didn’t receive a reply after two follow-ups, he assumed they had found someone else or weren’t yet hiring. “That’s how a lot of my applications had gone honestly, just not hearing back because so many places can’t hire right now because of the pandemic,” McLaughlin says. “But then kind of out of nowhere I got a call from Learfield saying they were interested.”
The sportscasting job market is always hard. The pandemic has made it harder. “It can feel pointless at times, just applying for jobs and not hearing anything. It’s hard to be patient. I like to be busy, constantly prepping for the next game so I’ve had to find ways to spend my time and enjoy the moment while still being productive.”
One way McLaughlin invests his free time is by studying other broadcasters. “Once sports came back, I tried to pick one game a day where I really focused on the play-by-play guy and listened intentionally to the call. Whether that’s been basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, or even golf, I have loved having the time to listen to so many people I normally wouldn’t get the chance to. I have loved listening to [ESPN Radio’s] Marc Kestecher in the bubble. Don Orsillo with the Padres has been absolutely delightful with their recent run.”
When the job market feels especially difficult, McLaughlin leans on the support of family and friends. “I am so lucky to have so many incredible friends, peers and mentors that encouraged me and answered any questions, listened to my frustrations and encouraged me to keep going when times were tough.”
Job market strategies
In the job market, McLaughlin tweaked his application for every position to which he applied. “I was constantly trying to find the best way to show how I could fit that particular role,” he reasons.
McLaughlin’s aggressive follow-ups also separate him from other applicants. “The goal was to make it seem like I was more than just a resume and demo reel, by attaching some of my personality to the follow ups,” he says. “I wanted to really sell my character and personality, and show how I’m much more than just a broadcaster. It was clear during the interview process that these follow ups were important and showed what I could bring to the table aside from just play-by-play.
“By showing what type of person I am, and emphasizing how I could be a strong teammate, I think allowed the people who were in charge of hiring to feel comfortable bringing me on.”
Broadcasting Penn State basketball on the campus radio station last season helped fuel McLaughlin’s desire to move forward in the sport. “College basketball’s passion and energy is really only matched by college football. Being in the arena for a massive college basketball matchup is pretty addicting,” he grins.
Now, McLaughlin will be part of that passion and energy at UVM. “Vermont is such a successful program on the court, and I can’t wait to get the chance to broadcast such high quality basketball!”