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I’m a broadcaster now

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Sometimes dreams come true, just decades late

About three weeks ago Casey Catherwood, of crazy mascots fame and Tacoma Rainiers and Sounders 2, asked me if I would like to join S2’s broadcast crew. I was stunned. I would need a bit to decide.

I called a few of the people I worked with back when I was at KJR as a producer. Gasman, Seth Everett and Dick Fain all gave me the same advice: “Try it; you can only fail or succeed.” If I failed I would be exactly where I was prior to the offer, and if I succeed I would be able to be doing something that I thought I gave up on back in 2001. So, from my vacation on a small island in the South Pacific, I messaged Casey and said yes.

We had a meeting (I missed another one), a change in cast, and the challenges of a brand new organization taking over the role as streamer. But I knew a few things that gave me confidence:

  • I produced radio play-by-play for the Sonics and Storm.
  • Adam Wygle of Bootstrapper Studios would be our Director.
  • Andrew Harvey has a ton of experience doing play-by-play. He’s a great resource for all of us. He also recently joined the Sounder at Heart team.
  • James Riley is one of the players from the original MLS Sounders who I know the best. He and I would both be new, but we are comfortable together.

So, I entered Friday night’s game knowing that I needed to be myself (representative of fans, an analyst, a passionate lover of DnD/spec-fic, and someone with a powerful network.)

After games I want to share some of the key things I learned. Hopefully they showed up in the game.

I wanted to give more air time to Portland

This seems odd, but I knew that Riley would be focused on the Seattle Sounders and I knew that most listeners on a typical USL ‘cast are from out of town. In order to do research on this I touched base with friend of the site Richard Farley (he works for the Timbers now), read a lot of Stumptown Footy, and went on a podcast with Stumptown’s USL expert (I listened to that cast twice).

My main focuses were going to be on the two #4 overall picks on the active roster, T2’s additions of several players from around USL/NASL, a bench full of Academy callups, Giovanni Savarese’s tactical leadership of the men’s side of the Portland organization, and Harold Hanson. There was something I was supposed to talk about regarding Hanson, but I completely forgot it once Wygle said “you’re live.”

I got to talk about Jeremy Ebobisse a bit in the pregame. You didn’t get to hear that. Savarese believes in rapid transition. It’s impressive. T2 did well with it. There can be a case where youngsters learn to lose. With T2 only notching 3 wins last year, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they signed D2 veterans and foreign internationals (their three Latin players weren’t available) to try and get wins while developing.

Voice of the Fans

My goal here was to point out the configuration of the stadium and how its nooks and crannies help separate and allow differing fanbases to enjoy the Cheney Stadium soccer experience.

Many times when Riley talked about ECS or the family atmosphere I brought up this angle. Maybe I’ll do different stuff in the future. I’d like to talk about the smoke a bit. That’s a pretty cool thing that the team, the local authorities, and ECS worked out.

Seattle’s Academy history

Whether it was the starting pairing of 17-year-old box-to-box midfielders, David Olsen’s history with Jordan Morris, or Ray Serrano/Azriel Gonzalez jumping the system and signing young, it is clear that S2 has captured the strength of the Academy more this year than any other iteration of the USL team.

Jake Morris and Sam Rogers are going to the US U20s. Nick Hinds was stellar on the night, winning the Man of the Match.

Networking

From conversations with Garth Lagerwey and others down through the Academy level, I regularly connect with people throughout the organization. During the broadcast I shared a bit about how David Estrada (number 74!) originally didn’t think that he was going to be on S2, instead intending to use his comfort and friends in Seattle to earn a job elsewhere.

That plan worked out even better for him. He is now the seasoned veteran player and an Academy coach.

The number of people I would need to thank for sharing their time with me over the years would be immense. I’m going to forget a couple, but the keys that need to be mentioned are Lagerwey, Sigi Schmid, Kurt Schmid, Chris Henderson, Brian Schmetzer, Ezra Hendrickson, Marc Nicholls and Darren Sawatzky. Without them, and so many others around Puget Sound soccer, I would not have enough information to share during a live broadcast that offers little in the way of warning.

Me

This didn’t happen. I thought I would add more of myself, my quirks. There were no DnD references. No references to Puget Sound’s musical history. No references to Dune, or other sci-fi movies. I didn’t even quote Ender’s Game.

I’m confident that will come. That confidence arrives because not only did I have fun through all the technical difficulties, but I think I shared a bit of knowledge that wouldn’t have been there without my presence. Riley, Harvey and myself are getting more comfortable. We’ll continue to add more of who we are as we grow into this experience.

Thanks

First and foremost I have to thank Casey Catherwood, the Rainiers and the Sounders for the offer and opportunity. It’s going to be a blast.

Leslie Larkin, who took a young man with a lisp and stammer and (eventually) turned him into a broadcaster.

All those people I worked with at KJR from ’99 to ’01. Some are mentioned here by name, but there were dozens. I remember those days fondly. They influence my writing and also my approach to color commentary.

The staff at Sounder at Heart and SB Nation Soccer. Jeremiah Oshan deserves huge thanks for taking my writing dreams and growing this site beyond what anyone thought it would mean. Tyler, Steve, Graham, Brian, Alicia, Kevin are some of the SBN people who deserve mention. The list of SaH staffers is huge. The non-Oshan one I need to mention by name is Scott. He has done a wonderful job covering S2, and more immediately, he got me a pretzel when I made the mistake of not eating dinner before the game.

Finally, I have to thank my wife. Without her support I wouldn’t have time to turn my passions into the hours of time it takes to make them succeed.

I’m a broadcaster now, a blogger now, a DM, a writer, a flavor expert. I’m right here. This is who I am.