I have been richly blessed throughout my life. I’ve gotten to do many wonderful things, and meet many colorful people. But I’ve just started doing something close to my roots that’s been an absolute blast!
Last Thursday, I got a call over Facebook Messenger. Derek Stock, one of the assistant coaches for the Carey High School football team and an old high school friend of mine, called me and asked if I wanted to help call the Carey vs. Bucyrus football game over an internet livestream. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited I agreed to it, even before I was sure I had a ride to the stadium!
But after agreeing to it, one thought ran through my mind: Wait a minute. I’ve NEVER been in a position like this before. I’ve never done any kind of broadcasting before. What if I suck? Should I have really said yes to that?
But those negative thoughts didn’t last long. Particularly when Coach Stock told me I was one of the few people he knew who was that passionate for Carey football. My sister Christy kind of tuned me up too.
When Carey head coach Jon Mershman, Derek Stock, and the rest of the coaching staff were discussing who they wanted in the booth with Eric Mullholand, the play-by-play guy, who was also my junior high History teacher, my name came up for two reasons: I’ve always loved and been extremely passionate about Blue Devil Football, and I’ve had some experience working in a studio environment. I’m still extremely honored and touched to know that they thought that highly of me!
I have the NASTY habit of being my own worst critic and selling myself short though. Cue the pep talk from Christy. She was nice to me, but she was like, “You may not have been in front of a microphone before, but you worked around audio equipment for four years in college. You know how to be professional. You’ve had a lot of experience in that environment, and probably have more experience than most of the people there. You always sell yourself short! Don’t do that!” She’s great, and I am truly grateful she’s my sister. Sometimes our siblings need to give us a come to Jesus talk and a kick in the pants, don’t they? Glad she did!
I listened to her, buried my fear as best as I could, and did my absolute best in preparing by researching teams and studying rosters and newspapers. And I can now say that taking that chance to do something new and different has brought me SO much new joy! It’s also allowed me to return to my roots a little. I was a 2010 Carey High School graduate, as well as a student manager for the football team from 2007-2009. It may have been 10 years since I graduated. But somewhere in there not far from the surface, that same passion, fire, energy, and love for Carey Blue Devil Football is alive and well! That fire burns bright. Always! I was nicknamed “Animal” by a few close friends for always getting wound up, trying my best to fire up the team, and always giving 100 percent in serving my teammates. Animal came out of retirement last Friday night to help out his friends and the community!
Once a Blue Devil, Always a Blue Devil!
Carey Football has always had a very special place in my heart ever since the first time I stepped on the practice field as a high school kid 13 years ago on August 6th, 2007. It was HOT, humid, and a really long day since the team was smack dab in the middle of two a day practices. But I did not care in the least. The head coach at the time, Todd Worst, asked me if I wanted to be the student manager since I could not play football due to my Cerebral Palsy. As if I’d say no to that!
Saying yes to being a student manager was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Period. I got involved in the everyday tasks of filling water and Gatorade containers, helping lay down drill cones and setting out tackling dummies. My main goal was to do the small things everyone on the coaching staff used to do, so they could focus entirely on teaching the game to my teammates, and whipping them into shape so they were the best team they could possibly be on Friday nights!
But being a student manager gave me so much more as well. It gave me a sense of belonging, like I had a purpose, in serving and firing up my teammates. Plus being a student manager allowed me to be squarely in the middle of the action! Whether that was at practice, Thursday night “feed the team” nights where I got to sit down with the rest of the guys and eat great food prepared for us by parents and volunteers, or Friday nights under the lights! Even though being in front of our home crowd at C.D. Wentling Field was awesome, I always enjoyed road games too. There was something cool about those bus trips to other stadiums. I think it was exciting to me because I knew that we were going into hostile environments. This meant that I had to be extra loud, energetic, and at the top of my game if and when the team needed anything, such as equipment, water, Gatorade, or that extra emotional oomph for when they needed to dig deep to win.
Plus I always made sure the players on the sidelines were fired up and supporting their teammates. Football is an emotional game! And the players feed on whatever emotion they’re receiving from fans and their teammates. So if that meant I had to work myself into a frenzy to the point where the vein in my neck was popping out, my voice was hoarse from screaming, and I was sweating, so be it. Besides, if I didn’t give a damn about the game, why would my teammates?! I tried my best to be a great motivator for the guys!
I was very fortunate to be a part of three straight playoff teams. In 2007, we went 8-3, earning Carey’s first playoff berth in four seasons, and in 2008 and 2009, we had a pair of 10-2 seasons, which are among the best in school history. But I know why we had such good teams. Sure, we had big, talented guys who executed the game plan exceptionally well. But I think more importantly, we had a team of 60+ guys who trusted each other, worked together as a unit, and who trusted the men next to them to do their job. We got along really well the vast majority of the time and had plenty of fun! But for the times some guys weren’t getting along, we could still dial in and do really well. When the time came to play a game, we put any differences we had aside, and worked our asses off to get a W in whatever way we could. And most of the time, we did!
I still miss those days, even if they were over a decade ago. But now getting the opportunity to serve as the color man for Carey Football livestreams allows me to channel that same passion, share my football knowledge, and fire up and excite the fans like I used to do with my teammates! Even though I’ve only done two games behind the mic so far, it’s been unbelievably fun! I hope I can do many more broadcasts as a volunteer in the future. Above all though, I’m just gonna have fun and enjoy the ride. The booth overlooking the stadium is my new favorite place to be. It’s Animal’s new home!