About this time a year ago, I was wondering if I would get the chance to ever to call another game, much less a national title game.
When my situation in Columbus, Ohio, changed, I went searching for work, and was fortunate enough to land a freelance job calling Division II Ashland University men’s and women’s basketball. It was not the “glamour” gig that I had calling Ohio State games, but it was a good way to stay alive and kicking in the business. (Maybe another blog sometime)
The Ashland women’s team returned four starters off a 31-2 team and entered the pre-season ranked in the top-5. The Eagles, as recently as 2013, won a DII national title. This year’s team ran the table (36-0) and, as of this writing, was preparing to play for the national title against Virginia Union on Friday, March 24th. That got to me thinking about prepping for a national title broadcast as a play-by-play announcer.
I had been on three national title football game broadcasts with Ohio State (as a sideline reporter), but this one is all me. I consider myself a pretty thorough guy when it comes to my game prep, but do I change anything for a game of this impact?
I know the Ashland story so well, so I have the spent the majority of my prep just refreshing myself. I talked with Virginia Union coach Ann-Marie Gilbert (she told me 60 rebounds is their stated goal for every game) and VU players at and after the pre-game press conference. I also watched all their prior games at the Elite 8, and poured over their webpage, league website, and any other online info I could in the day between games.
After asking around, I decided to simply approach the game from a play-by-play standpoint as I would for any other game, but all the while realizing what rests on the outcome. I do not use a scripted live open. That won’t change. I feel I am more than capable of describing where I am and why we are there.
I am not a “screamer” on air, but do feel I carry the right voice inflections to describe the level of intensity. I know I will get excited as the evening progresses, (as an announcer you grow close to teams you cover consistently) and, even though it may not be where I thought I would be, I am excited to call my first national title game.
(Editor’s note: Ashland ended up completing it’s perfect season with a national championship!)