By vocalizing moments on the field, a group of student commentators transfer their interests and knowledge on the sport to those watching the game. Through livestreams provided by the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference TV (SCIAC TV), the student commentators acknowledge the years of hard work dedicated by the athletes and send greetings to parents watching the games at home.
Kelly Young ’12, who recently entered her second year as the director of athletics communications, said there are generally two types of student commentators hired by Occidental College Athletics: in-game commentators who do starting lineup announcements and broadcasters who comment on video films and livestreams.
Jacob Hamermesh (sophomore) was hired by games management last spring after completing his basketball season. Hamermesh said he started announcing for lacrosse games last February and he proceeded to do in-game commentary for soccer and basketball games in the Fall.
“Some people might be intimidated by the microphone, or by talking in front of large groups, but I really enjoyed that for some reason,” Hamermesh said.
Meanwhile, Jackson Lewellen (first year) and his co-host Nicholas Taylor (first year) said they have recently been experimenting with livestream announcing from a rooftop near Anderson Field. According to Lewellen, they are the first consistent student commentators for the men’s baseball team.
Young said collaborative commentaries work better for baseball broadcasting because the duration of the game is longer compared to basketball and lacrosse.
The two baseball student commentators said they implement a clear division of labor. As the play-by-play commentator, Lewellen said he conveys to the audience the real-time actions on the field, whereas his partner Taylor is responsible for providing analysis and background information on the athletes.
“My partner’s job is to add color to the broadcast,” Lewellen said. “Instead of just saying everything that’s happening, [Taylor] will have his computer open with all the statistics for our team and the other team.”
According to Young, Occidental College Athletics has slowly added in-game announcers in the last few years, but the job is highly dependent on the capabilities of the students.
“The people that fill the [commentary] roles generally approached me,” Young said. “If they are passionate and knowledgeable about the sport, and they come to me with that drive, then they get slotted into that role.”
When men’s basketball was in season, Hamermesh said he noticed there were student workers at every game. He said he went up to the person who looked like they were in charge and asked if they were hiring and was then given a position at the score table by Young.
Raul Cruz Robinson (sophomore) said he will partner up with Hamermesh next year to announce for men’s basketball, and that he is also hoping to commentate for soccer games.
According to Cruz Robinson, basketball and soccer have always been his favorite sports, and he is pleased to see his friends playing in an environment that provides the feeling of a professional sports event. He said after learning that one of the student commentators for basketball is a graduating senior, he reached out to Young and was promised an in-game announcing position for next year.
Having years of experience in games management, Young believes the key to succeeding in athletics communications is learning on the fly.
“There is a little training involved for the student commentators,” Young said. “It gets kind of hard to train broadcasting when there isn’t a live game happening.”
According to Lewellen, he and Taylor faced numerous obstacles in their first livestream, from limited broadcasting equipment to their own inexperience.
“The first game, our tech wasn’t working, so we just sat on the roof and practiced the game to ourselves,” Lewellen said. “But it was good to do one practice run because we sounded better [in the later games].”
Hamermesh said he appreciates the opportunity to learn through experience, which has allowed him to discover his own commentating style. He said he felt that what he was doing has left a nice impact on the game.
“I came up with a catchphrase during the first lacrosse game I was announcing, and every time they made a goal, I would say it after the name of the player,” Hamermesh said. “The players really enjoyed it.”
Similarly, Lewellen said he found his purpose as a student commentator through empowering the players with his voice.
“When I do the broadcast, I always think about how I can make this moment more exciting,” Lewellen said. “Just last game, our right fielder made a crazy diving catch against the wall, but the camera couldn’t see it. I narrated the insane catch, and it was super fun at the moment.”
As of this semester, Occidental College Athletics has five student commentators on the clock.
“In-game commentaries have been more developed with the basketball season, but we are always looking for more commentators,” Young said.
Despite the small numbers of student commentators, they are weaving a more engaging game watching experiences for the fans.
“My plan is to get more students involved in the fan sections,” Cruz Robinson said. “I want our audience to not just treat [the games] like a social event, but also show respect and encouragement to the teams.”
Contact Renee Ye at firstname.lastname@example.org.