August 1, 2017

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Freshman Year

August 1, 2017

When I first arrived at ASU in mid-August, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to become a sports broadcaster, specifically one that covered baseball. Outside of that, I wasn't sure.

 

Starting college was scary because while I kinda knew what I wanted, I had no clue what I needed to do to get from Point A to Point B. Thankfully, the start of college was slightly less scary than it otherwise could have been. I made some friends over the summer of 2016 that I knew would also be attending ASU in the fall. It was with these friends that I did all of the welcome week events with that are designed for freshmen, including Student Org night.

 

Hold on, I need to rewind a bit. In late April, my dad and I came down for freshman orientation at Cronkite. We planned the trip so I could make it to a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field and an ASU game at Phoenix Muni as well. Coincidentally, our seats happened to be in front of the press box, more specifically in front of the TV booth, where Dominic Cotroneo was calling the game for Pac-12 Digital. I watched the game and listened to Dom's call, later reaching out to him on Twitter.

 

 Now back to August, Student Org Night. I asked Dom what I should get involved with, he told me Blaze Radio and the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. So I did. I signed up for those two clubs, as well as Devils in Detail.

 

It was then that I met Blake Benard and Jake Garcia, two of the friendliest and most welcoming people I could have asked for as an overwhelmed freshman that just wanted to be a baseball broadcaster.

 

I was hesitant at first to get incredibly involved, but I decided to go for it. I joined all of the appropriate Facebook groups and went to the first meetings.

 

As time went on, I got more involved. I started doing Sports Updates for Blaze Radio and that was about the coolest thing for me. I'm a freaking freshman and I'm already LIVE on the air at the college radio station? So rad. I also got to Board Op the first football game of the season. While I would have loved to have gone, it was pretty cool to not have to pull an all-nighter for tickets.

 

Let's see, what else happened early on? I went to the rooftop pool at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex nearly every day. I saw a lot of Diamondbacks games, which was really fun. I attended a Donald Trump rally, solely to experience it (not because I support him). Bob Costas came and talked at Cronkite and you bet I had a front-row seat. I also got to attend Pac-12 Networks student training, which was incredible. There, I met Darron Sutton, former play-by-play voice of the Arizona Diamondbacks, among other teams, and talked with him for close to a half-hour.

 

Outside of that, I started to do more at WCSN. They needed tech people for their game broadcasts and I signed up for every one I could. They said it was the fastest way to being on-camera, so I went all in. I did a soccer game, then some club hockey.

 

This is where things started to get fun. I met Ellie Simpson, which was one of the best things that happened to be this year. She was a huge hockey fan and determined to learn more about the sport, I got to know her better and as we became friends, I discovered a love for a new sport.

 

For the first month of the club season, I was at nearly every game, either operating camera or running graphics. After a while, I stopped doing that, but it was for the better because there was a tone going on.

 

I was approached by the folks at Devil's in Detail to cover the school's NCAA hockey team in their first full season and excitingly said yes. I was covering a team and I hadn't even been in school for two months!

 

While still trying to go to as many Arizona Fall League games as possible, I began to study a team that I didn't know existed until late August. I signed up to call hockey games for Blaze Radio and did hockey segments in the studio at Cronkite for WCSN's CSL 2. The coolest part about this for me was that I was filming in the same studio that the Phoenix Suns do for road games. Like what!?!

 

I got to watch lots of poor Tim Tebow baseball, I made it to my first football game and got the chance to have my sister come visit me. Then, after going to a few ASU Hockey games at Gila River Arena, my time came! I was going to be calling ASU's first game of the season that was played Oceanside Ice Arena, their normal home rink. And, I was calling it with fellow Devils in Detail hockey beat writer Ethan Schmidt.

 

And I was bad, really bad. I didn't know the sport all too well, but I tried to pass for knowledgeable. I wasn't prepared, but that's okay because it was a learning experience.

 

I watched Game 7 of the World Series with a bunch of my friends and fellow journalism majors, more AFL baseball, including the Fall Stars Game, and even a little more ASU football. 

 

After diving in and doing everything I was allowed and able to between WCSN and Blaze, my first semester of college wound down.

 

I helped producer Blaze Radio's election night coverage. I took BP on the field at Chase Field. I went to the AFL Championship game. And then after going home for Thanksgiving break, I got to call one more hockey game. It was better, but still not great. It didn't help we had been bumped from the press box to a platform in the back corner of the arena without a view of the scoreboard.

 

Then winter break came and it was awesome. I got to relax at home and even called a few ASU Men's Basketball games, one at Cal, the other at Stanford.

 

This all sounds like a lot, right? The funny thing is I hadn't even gotten started.

 

Over winter break, I applied for a few different positions. I applied for the baseball/softball beat writing positions for both Blaze Radio and WCSN. I also tried out to be a baseball/softball play-by-play broadcaster for Pac-12 Digital, through WCSN.

 

Well I didn't get the play-by-pay position, but I was offered spots as a softball beat writer at Blaze and a baseball beat writer at WCSN. Then came a very tough decision. I wanted to do both, I wanted to do it all. But I soon learned that wasn't realistic. I sought advice from several people that I respected and decided to focus on baseball.

 

As it turned out, that was a pretty good decision because I got to know some pretty cool people as a result.

 

As the hockey season wound down I went to more games. I called more games. And I developed a lot for a sport that I hadn't though much about coming in to ASU.

 

I applied for funding from ASU's Downtown Undergraduate Student Government and after getting approved, I bought a few plane tickets. I was going to be calling ASU baseball and softball on the road, which for me was very cool.

 

I was even approached to broadcast Track and Field for the Pac-12 Digital Networks stream, something I did twice (that was very much outside of my comfort zone).

 

I got more practice on-camera, more experience calling games and more time working tech as the spring went on and increased my confidence in nearly every regard of multimedia journalism.

 

I could go on listing all of my experiences and mention each and every cool thing that I did, but what truly set my first year in college apart from anything I had ever experienced was the people

 

Had it not been for the friendly club leaders in August, I would have never found my homes. If not for those that accepted me into those clubs, I would not have continued on. Without the friends I made, I would not have stayed sane and if you remove the professional relationships I was able to develop, my life as I sit here typing this is completely different.

 

It's impossible for me to thank everyone, but I certainly want to try and show my appreciation to as many people as possible, because without them, I wouldn't be where I am today,

 

One of the biggest steps I took was at the very end of the year, when Tyler Paley asked me to come on as Vice President of the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. The open position had been on my mind, but without Tyler's support and encouragement, I would not have felt comfortable to make the transition.

 

Further, people like Ben Jacobs, Joey Hardy, Terra Pinckley, Troy Tauscher, Eliav Gabay, Colton Dodgson, Jacob Janower, Blaine McCormick, Rob Werner and Karli Matthias provided an incredible support system within WCSN to help me develop throughout the year and adapt into a role of leadership. I learned so much in journalism, broadcasting and the technical aspect of the field from them to provide true comfort in the hardest of times.

 

Those freshmen like Rob and Karli, as well as Gigi Micketti, Jordan Kaye, Victoria Alvarado, Jazzmin Stanberry-Lehn, Ellie Simpson, Ryne Redd and Paige Burnell provided not only a sense of friendship with those in my class, but an eye-opening professional relationship, with those that I could rely on to help me accomplish what at times seemed like insurmountable tasks.

 

While those in my class became some of my closest friends, those that I learned the most from were those that I saw on a regular basis from February to May.

 

As a regular beat writer or broadcaster, you get to know the other members of the media and between hockey and baseball beats, I was given the chance to share the press box with some of the most talented writers I have ever read work from. 

 

In covering the ASU baseball team especially, I got to meet and work next to phenomenal journalists, including (but not limited to) Max Madden, Lyle Goldstein, Matt Lively, Kalaen Jones, Shane Theodore, Justin Toscano, Fabian Ardaya, Bobby Kraus, Matt Layman, Jeff Metcalfe, Rob Werner, and Killian McClatchy. The reality is I probably left off quite a few names, but that does not take away from what I learned about journalism, having a beat or covering a team.

 

As a student journalist in college, while you spend the most time with the other writers that share a beat with you, the media relations staff are truly going to be your best friends. I was lucky enough to work with two incredible SIDs in Mitch Terrell and Jeremy Hawkes, for hockey and baseball respectively. Others like Ben Enos with California  Baseball were incredibly helpful when broadcasting games for ASU on the road.

 

As I continue to think about those who helped me out this year, there is another category of journalist that stands out to me. As a freshman, I am one of the younger people around, but those older treated me like an equal, provided helpful advice and created a figure for me to look up to, which left me with a sense of confidence that I feel very fortunate to have received.

 


Working with and around talented broadcasters like Gavin Schall, Troy Lynch,  Victor Keys, Bridget Dowd, Drew Andre, Alex Capriello and Andrew Chapman gave me a new appreciation for the craft, as they demonstrated to me the importance of hard work and where it can get someone.

 

I was lucky enough to broadcast many games with many talented broadcasters and I would be amiss if I did not take the time to thank each and every one of them. I called hockey with Ethan Schmidt, Michael Baron, Justin Gaither and Weston DeWitt. I did play-by-play for basketball alongside Josh Schaefer and softball with Chris Roth, Chris Cadeau and Andrew Bell. I called 10 baseball games with Jordan Lank, Troy Tauscher, Dominic Cotroneo, TJ Mathewson, Rob Werner and Braiden Bell.

 

I knew the quality of broadcasters was high, but you truly get to know a sportscaster when sitting next to them for three hours watching and talking about a game, the talent level of everyone at the Cronkite Schoo truly blew me away and leaves me eager to get back after summer break is over.

 

It feels appropriate to wrap up this inaugural entry, seeing as I am well over 2,000 words at this point, but I want to make sure to include one last list of thank-yous. Each person that I interacted with at Cronkite, between WCSN, Blaze and other journalistic opportunities, taught me something or opened my eyes in one way or another and truly have helped pave what I hope to be a very long path in the sportscasting field.

 

 

Those people include Brady Klain, Evan Millstein, Chaz Frazier, Gabe Mercer, Marcella Baietto, Spencer Hardenbergh, Anthony Totri, Liesl Babicka, Zach Pekale, Anthony De Bono, Chance Johnson, Jack Harris, Austin Burnett, Noah Friedman, Cole Feinbloom, Jacob Franklin, Stephen Sydnor, Olivia Richard, Jessie Stone, Alec Henden, Rolando Rosas, and MJ Kansfield.

 

As I sit here over two months after the conclusion of the school year, I cannot help but feel so grateful for the position I am in. 2409 words cannot properly explain the impact so many people had on my life as a freshman at ASU's Cronkite School. With less than a month before I move into my apartment (can't wait Blaine, Jacob and Nick btw), I can truthfully say that I have never been more eager to get back to school. I started Kindergarten in 2003 and cannot think of a time I was ever this excited to start learning again.

 

At ASU, school does not feel like a chore or a task that I begrudgingly complete. It's something I look forward to because of the people involved, the classes I am taking and the opportunities that I have. In a few weeks, I'll be helping introduce an incoming freshman class to all ASU has to offer. I think I'm in the right place.

 

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© 2019 by NICHOLAS BADDERS

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