In over 25 years of announcing, a lot has changed. We’ve gone from tapes to CDs to Mini Disc to computers. We’re now using digital equipment and wireless is a lot more common. Our modes of communication have changed from phone to email to Skype. It was an email I sent back in 2002 however,
In over 25 years of announcing, a lot has changed. We’ve gone from tapes to CDs to Mini Disc to computers. We’re now using digital equipment and wireless is a lot more common. Our modes of communication have changed from phone to email to Skype. It was an email I sent back in 2002 however, that changed the course of my career.
Back in 2002, I was back home from California, announcing high school hockey when I went onto the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League website to send emails to teams about announcing their games. One of those emails went to Rob Faktorow, the coach of Langley hockey, to see if he wanted an announcer for the big rivalry game with McLean.
That email, about announcing a high school hockey game would wind up being the most important email I have ever sent. Rob was the first person to ask me to announce a youth game at then MCI Center, something I would do later that season. It was awesome how big the arena was, how the speakers sounded and how the scoreboard looked bigger than it was (and tiny compared to what is there now). Little did I know that walking into that building that afternoon, it would set into motion a series of events that would put me into the position to watch NHL games, eventually get paid to watch NHL games, my first opportunity to announce the Capitals to the ice, and to my first professional hockey game as a P. A. announcer.
That day, I met Tim Bronaugh who coordinates the games before and after Caps games. It wasn’t that first meeting that set it, but it would eventually lead to Tim recommending me to all the teams who use the ice. Because so many teams were booking me and I had other events to announce, Tim eventually got me a season credential that would allow me to get in and out of the arena as I needed. That credential led to me helping out on game nights with the program sellers. As the programs would go from being a $2 donation to a local youth hockey team to a giveaway, I thought that would be it. Then I was able to work with the Mites on Ice, referee shootouts, skate on the ice crew during media time outs, drop T-shirts and cows from the rafters, hand out giveaways, and anything else they needed. It opened the door to DJing in front of Verizon Center and other events with the Caps at Six Flags America for the season ticket holders and special community events were I got to meet the players. It opened the door to announcing rookie and training camp games and eventually to stay in the box when the team took those over as the clock operator and DJ. It allowed me to meet the right people so I could announce for Alex Ovechkin and develop a school assembly program with the mascot, Slapshot.
Eventually, they asked me to assist the P. A. announcer during a game, and be the back-up DJ. Those two jobs were extremely part time. Then they asked me to run their content management system for the LED boards inside the arena. All of a sudden, I was back in game operations of a professional sports team, and it was the team I grew up with…my team. I was working every game that I could. While working with the Mites and DJing some of the fun events before games wouldn’t be possible, I was back working games. Last year, seven games were DJed by DJ Jarrod over the course of the season. Holy cow. How the heck did I get here?
Tim’s referrals would lead to some fun games to announce. He introduced me to people who would eventually hire me to DJ for them, appear at their child’s school with Slapshot, and some high school hockey games. One day, he introduced me to Bryan Benenati who was coaching The American University women’s hockey team as they played against the University of Maryland. Bryan liked me, and would eventually hire me to announce for the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference women’s championship and all-star games. Bryan took me with him to Philadelphia to announce at The Spectrum. Oh man was I not a fan of the Flyers when they played there, but there was much respect for that old building. All the great things it’d seen and how awesome it was to be in its presence.
As the Philadelphia Phantoms would be forced to move because the arena was getting torn down, Bryan had to find a new home for the all-star game. He did in Hershey, Pennsylvania at Giant Center. It was a great event and helping to facilitate everything from the Bears was Maria Stouffer. Maria is essentially Tim’s counterpart so we had to work with her. It was easy and fun. She really liked what I was doing.
I remember that year well because my wife and I went to Hershey together. It was an exciting day as the Phantoms would be playing their last regular-season game in Philadelphia and we had tickets. My wife also had a little boy in her belly, this was April 2009. After the DVCHC all-star game and festivities, we ventured to Hershey’s Chocolate World. On the way back, my wife wasn’t feeling well so we would end up going over to the ER at Penn State-Hershey Hospital. Everything was ok, but we missed the game. We were able to watch some of the NCAA Frozen Four on a TV in the room. Two games I would have loved to been attending and there we were in an ER. It’s ok, because that little boy has grown up and been a Mite on Ice between periods at a Caps game. He’s gotten to run the scoreboard and take a picture from daddy’s seat with his sister.
Earlier this year, I got a Facebook message from Bryan about a P. A. announcer opening with the Bears. Maria had told him to get in touch with me. I auditioned, but didn’t get it. However, kept my network open.
The day after that little boy made one of my dreams come true by being a Mite on Ice, an email came in. How appropriate. It was from the Hershey Bears asking me to announce a game at the end of this month. Could I do it? YES I CAN! Holy cow, the Hershey Bears! My first professional hockey game, another great dream coming true. My goal is to eventually announce in the NHL, but Hershey has always been a close second. Since growing up and going to AHL games while visiting family, sometimes stopping in Hershey on the way home, there’s always been that dream of announcing for the Hershey Bears. That comes true, just because I sent an email to Rob Faktorow to announce for his high school hockey team.