Growing up I was always surrounded by sports. I guess you could say my love for sports began with a simple tradition throwing the baseball with my dad in the backyard. That foundation led to playing baseball and basketball during my youth years. But as time progressed and the more I saw the many avenues in athletics, especially on the media side, I felt this urge to begin broadcasting games, specifically play-by-play.

How I Was Influenced

Growing up I was an only child. Therefore, I had to teach myself interaction skills: how to talk with adults, how to carry on conversations with people of my age and older. And as a kid, I was a super Braves fan. I never missed a game on TBS. And during those days in the 90’s and early 2000’s, the Braves were a dynasty. They won 14 straight division titles and made it to five World Series, resulting in Atlanta’s lone championship in professional sports in 1995. Those Braves captured my attention with not only their product on the field, but off the field as well.

The voices that I listened to broadcasting the games on TV and radio sparked my interest. Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren and the whole Atlanta Braves broadcast team made it enjoyable to sit down and take in the sights and sounds of baseball: the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the big rallies and more. So during my middle school years, I simply decided to turn down the television and broadcast a Braves game.

I had all the players down pat and did about three or four innings.

My mom walked in the door and asked who I was talking to. I turned up the television and carried on.

When you realize you have a passion for something and dive in, you always want to go at whatever it is at 100 percent. That’s one thing my father instilled in me.

An Opportunity

I graduated from First Presbyterian Day School in Macon, Georgia. During my sophomore year of high school, an independent study was done in the infancy years of streaming athletic events online in conjunction with Macon State College (now Middle Georgia State).The professor there, Jim Leonard, provided all the cameras, wires, graphics, microphones, headsets and internet necessary to pull off a professional style broadcast at the high school level.

As part of the FPD Broadcast Team, I began running a camera during basketball games. But as I did, I soon realized that I didn’t want to be behind the camera. I wanted to be in front of the camera. So, naturally, I proposed we started broadcasting baseball games too. The answer was an immediate “yes.”

So that spring, I took my shot at it. And of course, I wasn’t that good. I mispronounced names, I scored things the improper way in the book, my delivery was choppy and my voice (back then) wasn’t fully matured. But I stuck with it. I got better that year by staying the course.

But the question still loomed: how do I fully maximize my potential?

Things Fall Into Place

When you realize you have a passion for something and dive in, you always want to go at whatever it is at 100 percent. That’s one thing my father instilled in me.

My aunt caught wind of a broadcast camp in Atlanta led by Bob Rathbun, who currently serves as the lead play-by-play broadcaster on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast for the Atlanta Hawks, the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, and various college assignments.

The camp was a three-day event that focused on the fundamentals of sports broadcasting: how to prepare, how to interview, and other basics of the business. Ironically enough, I was just one of two people to sign up in the state of Georgia along with one of my high school friends. The camp got me one-on-one with Rathbun and that interaction proved priceless.

I left the camp after broadcasting a basketball showcase more confident and better equipped to continue my journey. I chose not to play basketball my senior to focus on broadcasting. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

By my senior year, I was broadcasting football, basketball and baseball for my high school. I also struck up a relationship with Georgia College and State University. Our broadcast team did some freelance work for them my senior year. I knew that was the place for me to go to college to get more reps and to further enhance my abilities at the collegiate level.

Taking it to the Next Level

I hit the ground running at Georgia College. I found a major (speech and communication) that allowed me to focus on my voice to sound better on air as well as prepare better for broadcasts.

It was there that I met another major influence: Scott MacLeod. MacLeod started broadcasting for Georgia College back in the late 1970’s. He taught me how to handle myself as a journalist and how to conduct oneself in a professional manner. I was fortunate enough to land a spot with him on Georgia College radio broadcasts.

It was there, too, that Al Weston, Sports Information Director, gave me an opportunity to work in the department not just as a broadcaster, but also as a Sports Information Assistant. I continued to develop my broadcasting skills and style, but I was also able to become a better writer, speaker and all-around journalist.

As my college years progressed, I was calling games year-round: women’s soccer in the fall, women’s and men’s basketball in the winter and baseball and softball in the spring. I did all home games on radio and video streaming. For road contests, I was on the bus with the team and formed relationships with coaches and players that are still present to this day.

All in all, I was a full-time student broadcasting 80 or more games in a calendar school year. I couldn’t get enough. My preparation became more concentrated, I went to practices to learn about schemes and fundamentals, began my own podcast, talked with players and coaches about life and sports to learn their stories to incorporate into my broadcasts.

Were it not for Rathbun, MacLeod and Weston, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I am forever grateful for their belief in me. When it was time to leave the college scene, many of my influences, coaches and players said, “You’ve done it! You are a pro.” I took great pride in that and knew I had to continue to better myself.

The Next Step

As much as I wanted to stay in college, the time came for graduation in 2012. I was fortunate enough to land a job as Sports Information Director at my high school alma mater. It was there that I built a Sports Information and Media Communications Department that included a newly launched sports website, social media promotion, and the Viking Sports Radio Network. I continued to broadcast as much as I could with softball, football, basketball and baseball. For five years the expectations grew and grew until ultimately I got burned out. I decided it best at the time to take a marketing job in Atlanta (a place I have always wanted to live and have adored as a sports fan).

The Next Move

After I moved to Atlanta in the summer of 2017, I quickly realized how much I missed my career in sports media and how the corporate world wasn’t my cup of tea. I realized I had made a mistake. The passion to broadcast still burned and I knew I wanted to get back into working in the sports arena as soon as possible. Brad Dehem, Mount Vernon’s Athletic Director, called me to see if I wanted to broadcast Mustang basketball last winter. I immediately said yes.

It was then that I met the many wonderful faculty, staff, parents and fans at The Vern. I did as much as I could, or that my job would allow me. Then, as a blessing from above, Dehem called me late last summer so see if I would be interested in joining the Mount Vernon team as Assistant Athletic Director and Head of Athletic Media and Communications.

The answer was a resounding yes. I interviewed and got the job and am so thankful and blessed to be at Mount Vernon.

Looking Ahead and Looking Back

As we embark on a new journey in the athletic world at Mount Vernon with various media tools to promote our department, I look forward to building a first-class, professional environment for our coaches, players, faculty and staff, parents and fans. We now have a sports-specific website, we are active on social media and we are broadcasting basketball. My goal is to build a better athletic world for our student-athletes and coaches in the media spectrum.

Simply put, how might I make Mount Vernon a better place today than it was yesterday or the day before? How might we inquire, innovate and collaborate to build a sports media department that is the best in high school athletics? I know firsthand that I am here for a reason and that reason is serve our community with the best of my journalistic abilities. I also know I am here because of those who influenced me: Rathbun, MacLeod, Weston, and many countless coaches and players.

So as we continue to grow, it’s imperative to have attainable goals, both in the short term and long term. One of those goals for me is to launch a broadcasting network that can include more sports coverage and more play-by-play broadcasting. Our coaches, players, faculty and staff and fans deserve the best. Why not give it to them?!

And while we’re at it, could there be some students who are interested in sports media? If so, there’s a golden opportunity to influence them just as I was positively impacted when I first started. I look forward to setting a new standard for sports media at Mount Vernon. Things are in the works to help us better spotlight coaches and student-athletes by telling their stories. And soon, things will be in place for a broadcasting network. We just have to take the necessary steps to get there.

So with that, always remember where you’ve been and where you’re going. Remember when you first started something you were passionate about and how it can evolve with the right people influencing you and with hard work and dedication to your craft. More importantly, enjoy the journey through the twists and turns and ups and downs of life.

Lastly

On Christmas Day I got a chance to throw on a glove and play catch with my dad in the front yard. It sent me back to my days watching the Braves (usually him and I together) and made me ruminate of the long journey to being at Mount Vernon.

And it made me understand my passion for sports broadcasting is always there no matter what, burning like a wildfire.

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