Sunday, January 08, 2017

Snowy Saturday Basketball Special Part 1

I called my first college basketball game since 2010, and it was exciting to be back. As events go, it wasn't easy, but it was memorable.

The last time I called college hoops was when I was with Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY. Those days were quite fun, and I miss them.

Anyway, through the excellent Kevin Halpenny, I connected with Kyle Crooks, the "voice" of Georgian Court University basketball. Kyle needed a fill-in for yesterday's GCU doubleheader at Post University, just outside of Waterbury, CT.

I was back in the college game.

I enlisted AJ Szymanowski and Shawn Sailer to join me for a day of hoops, food, and fun.

As the week progressed, there were rumblings of a storm churning into the area. At one point, we'd get a dusting. No big deal. Then we'd get a little more. Then it became a winter storm warning.

By yesterday morning, within minutes of each other, AJ and Shawn both said they would be staying home. Now it was up to me to decide if I would risk it.

Oh, have I mentioned my car, er, isn't great in snow?

Well, I've given it away. You know I went. I mean, you know me, right?

I was at Post within an hour. The snow was imminent, and began to fall just as I got out of the car. As setups go, well, Post isn't used to have broadcasts. I was nice and early (about 2.5 hours early, to be exact), but not everyone was on-site yet. Kyle said the team would be bringing me his broadcast equipment.

So first, Post had to figure out where to set me up. This took time, but they could have been more accommodating. They were wonderful, to be exact. I got a small table next to scorer's table. The gym, in fact, isn't very big to begin with.

GCU showed up around 11:45 (tip off was scheduled for 1 p.m.). An assistant coach introduced himself and said he'd get the equipment to me. I watched as a team member brought over what looked like a first aid kit.

I waited.

I bought a small bag of pretzels (starving, of course).

I waited some more.

I finally decided I would go get my equipment and set up. No big deal. The team has better things to do than worry about a substitute broadcaster. I had everything ready, with minor hiccups that wouldn't be noticeable to the listener. At first, I couldn't get the broadcast online, but there mifis and other options ready.

Seriously, Post was wonderful. If they ever need a broadcaster...

I began to get nervous as time was ticking down. First college hoops game in nearly seven years. First basketball broadcast in ten months. Flying solo (that doesn't really bother me). Strange place, names, teams I just met. Plus I needed to find Kyle's equipment, if only so I had his iPod to play music, commercials, etc.

I looked back at the assistant with about fifteen minutes to go before gametime.

"Where's the equipment?"

"What equipment?"

"The broadcast stuff."

He pointed. To what I thought was the first aid stuff.

I could have banged my head on the wall.

Again. Nobody knew the difference.

OK, from there it was just basketball. Don't try to reinvent the wheel.

I fumbled with getting used to Kyle's iPod as a way to play audio elements, but eventually pulled it together.

I know I messed up names. I know my call was off.

I know that AJ and Shawn and others listened, and their reviews were kind.

I know me. I'm better than that, but I'll take it.

The GCU women won by 10. Things didn't go so well for the men.

I hoped the broadcasts sounded passable at the very least as I packed up.

Hanging out at the gym wasn't an option.

I continued to watch the snow fall.

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