If you haven’t learned by reading any of my articles, I’m pretty attached to the sports world.
I’ve loved sports since I was a kid. I remember the day I caught my first ball, when I shot my first basket and kicked my first goal. Ever since then, sports have been a driving force through my lowest lows and my highest highs.
Sports never cease to disappoint me. Believe me, I am qualified to say this; I’m still a fan of arguably one of the worst-performing cities in the country from the last decade.
That’s why I am trying to build a career within it.
It would be easy for me to be involved in sports if I had God-given talent that would allow me to play at the professional level. As a current tennis athlete here at Albion College, it would be nice to have the instincts of Roger Federer.
But in all honesty, I deeply admire the other aspects of sports. In particular, I love the idea of being able to tell stories, to report and broadcast the highest highs and the lowest lows that showcase the emotions of sports.
That’s why I interned for a media company, WBRW TV/MI Community Media, for three years in high school doing play-by-play, sideline reporting and productions of my own sports show called “2 Minute Warning.”
Now that I’m at Albion College, I’ve pursued the art of journalism in my position as the sports editor of the Pleiad and will continue down that career path.
On Thursday, I attended the Great Lakes Broadcast & Sports Media Academy at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. The event allowed students in high school and college to hear from some of the sports industry’s most prominent individuals in all aspects of media and broadcasting, covering experiences in programming, production, sales, engineering and on-air.
After checking in at the front gate, the event began at 9 a.m. with opening remarks from Michigan’s lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist II.
Gilchrist spoke for only a few minutes, but the one thing that he emphasized was the spectrum of opportunities in the media industry. Jobs are abundant in front and behind the camera, and the ability to learn more about these positions would be available for all the students that day.
“I want you to brag to your family and friends when you return home,” Gilchrist said. “Today will be one full of opportunities to put yourself out there to those in the real industry. It’s your chance to take the next step towards your future.”
Once he concluded his remarks, Gilchrist introduced the main keynote speaker of the event: Craig Monroe.
Monroe is a former Major League Baseball outfielder who played for the Detroit Tigers from 2002 to 2007, including a trip to the 2006 World Series. A few years after retirement, he transitioned into the media landscape as a studio analyst for Bally Sports Detroit in 2012. In 2023, he became the primary analyst for the company.
It doesn’t stop there for Monroe. In 2022, he joined the Detroit Tigers Radio Network on 97.1 “The Ticket” with legendary play-by-play announcer Dan Dickerson, the keynote speaker at the event last year.
Monroe was interviewed by Rowan University sophomore Sam Prince.
Studying sports communications, like myself, Prince is famously known for his Make-A-Wish opportunity: Announcing the New York Giants’ selection of Kayvon Thibodeaux in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Monroe’s conversation centered around his experiences as a professional ball player and how that carried over into his career on the mic.
As he began answering questions, he was asked how being a former player for the city played in his favor when getting his future media positions. Monroe assured the crowd that although it helped, it was up to him to adjust to the industry.
“You have to adapt, but in the process, you have to find yourself as well,” Monroe said.
Monroe said that he didn’t fully understand the impact of preparation before games until he became involved in the process. The way reporters ask players questions and the vocabulary used when speaking to the media impact the quality of a program greatly.
Self-evaluation, being able to take criticism and then “turning it around” were some of the other tips Monroe advised.
“Fall in love with the process. Don’t chase the result,” Monroe said. “We believe that we know a lot, but not all of it.”
Hearing from Monroe was reassuring; even those who seem to be perfect at their jobs are always looking for ways to improve their craft and skill sets. All may be well on television, but it’s everything behind the scenes that will make or break a production.
After Monroe finished speaking, the first of two breakout sessions began. The first one I attended was called “The Art of Storytelling: Crafting Compelling Narratives.” The speakers of this discussion were Max Goldwasser – a reporter for WXMI-TV based in Grand Rapids – Rachel Ishikawa – a podcast producer for Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor – and Al Martin – a sports host and reporter for WKAR Public Media in East Lansing.
I took three things away from this talk, all concerning the production of quality content.
For one, internships are ideal. Not only does the experience show that someone wants to be involved in a particular industry, but it also polishes the skills that are essential to succeeding.
Second, understanding concepts like word economy and time management is essential. Being able to make points while using the least amount of words possible goes a long way. When time is of the essence, storytellers need to be able to make windows when telling stories to the audience.
Third, and this may be the most important point that was considered in the talk: Practice and repetition. It can be as simple as muting the audio for games on YouTube to practice the announcer’s voice. Getting rid of the intimidation factor, of any initial anxiety in other words, is key. The only way to get rid of it is through consistency.
The second session I attended was called “From Athletes to Analysts: The Game of Preparation, More Than X’s and O’s.” The panel was made up of former athletes, including former Michigan State running back Jehuu Caulcrick and former Michigan Football Captain Jon Jansen.
It was a conversation that dug a little deeper into what Monroe alluded to at the beginning of the event.
Character matters. It doesn’t matter what type of talent someone has at any position in the industry. If you can’t get along with colleagues or the people you have to obtain information from, you will not make it.
You have to know what you’re asking and when to ask it. To ask the right questions, you have to build trust by showing you have the knowledge to have that conversation.
Near the end of the conversation, I listened to Jeanna Trotman from WXYZ-TV talk about making the most of any opportunity to put oneself out there. As one of the main sports anchors I watch, it was impactful for me to hear from her.
“It doesn’t matter whether you go to Michigan State or Albion College, get involved,” Trotman said.
It’s weird how closely that is related to me.
Once the session wrapped up, the last event on the agenda was “Speed Networking,” where a variety of professionals were open to one-on-one conversations at five-minute intervals for an hour.
I had the opportunity to speak with three individuals including Trotman and Martin. The other was Joey Ellis, a multimedia journalist for WILX in Lansing. Now, I feel as though I have the chance to take the next step towards my dream of being in the sports world.
I walked out of Ford Field with a mix of emotions. It was a surreal experience that not only showed me what it takes to be in sports media, but the realization that it can happen.
It will be challenging, but I am ready to dive in.