By Pat Mariboe
For those who are unable to attend games because of work, travel, or other obligations, the Washington College Athletics Department has you covered. Broadcasting efforts are spearheaded by Athletics Broadcasting Coordinator Conner Fleegle, or, as he likes to refer to himself, “the voice of Washington College Athletics.”
“A perfect broadcast starts days before game day with preparation and research,” he said. “Understanding each team’s top role players, team records, and trends is vital information to know and to be able to relay to the viewer. Also, you have to have confidence in your abilities. This goes for whether you’re a student broadcaster executing their first broadcast or someone like me who’s been at WC for almost 10 years.”
Fleegle can often be found in the Skybox hours before a contest reviewing his notes with his trusty headset and trademark WC baseball cap. For Fleegle, the actual broadcast is one part of the position, and the other part is the passion and love for WC Athletics, which makes the job that much easier.
“There’s quite a few memorable games, but my two favorite ones have been War on the Shore in 2013 when we came from behind to beat Salisbury and snap a 12-game losing streak to them, and when men’s basketball beat F&M 62-61 in January of 2013,” Fleegle said. “We went into that game 0-14 while F&M was ranked No. 14 in the country, so nobody gave us a chance, and to be able to call a huge upset like that in a close one point contest is something you’ll always remember.”
While the Skybox is a home away from home for Fleegle, he has also adapted to his other broadcasting locations in the Cain Athletic Center and Athey Baseball Park. Fleegle has recently grown accustomed to the Casey Swim Center, where he will be broadcasting swim meets for the first time. Regardless of the location, Fleegle has picked up a following of WC families throughout his time here, and will often get approached by a parent or sibling after a contest.
“It means a great deal to me to know that parents of our student athletes enjoy my broadcasts,” Fleegle said. He said he does these broadcasts for himself because he enjoys them, but he also does them because it’s easier on families who can’t attend games. Fleegle said it’s important that parents are able to stay updated on their children’s sporting events.
“To know that family members, whether they be from Maryland, California, Connecticut, or England, appreciate my work is a great feeling,” he said.
“Every time a parent or relative comes and tracks me down, there’s usually a story involved as to why they enjoy my work, and I love hearing those stories and it makes me feel good knowing I positively impacted somebody else with my work.”
While Fleegle certainly tries to do it all, there are often days where games are scheduled at conflicting times, which means a team of student broadcasters has to be called in to fill in for him.
One of those students is senior Andrew Chirico, who has been working as a student assistant for the Athletic Communications Department since his freshman year. Chirico is often second-in-command with broadcasting duties and has certainly made an impact during his time at WC.
“Compared to freshman year, I’ve grown a lot,” Chirico said. “Coming into college, I had no idea I would be broadcasting the amount of games that I have. It has been one of my most favorite things while being a student here and I will miss it. It took practice and experience, but I think I was able to finish off as a decent broadcaster considering I have never been actually taught how to call games.”
“My most memorable moment was this year when I called a triple-header in September. I had President Kurt Landgraf on air during the women’s soccer match and we called the game together for 10 minutes or so. Overall, the day was a fun one with Field Hockey winning in overtime and the Shorewomen soccer team scoring a go-ahead goal in the second half.”
Senior Sean Weiss is also starting to get his foot in the door, as the Shoremen baseball pitcher can only broadcast during the fall and winter seasons due to his athletic commitments in the spring. Weiss’s broadcasting debut was on Oct. 21 in a 3-1 WC field hockey win over Roanoke.
“It was the first time I had ever broadcasted any game so I definitely had nerves but I prepared a sheet of notes that I could fall back on,” Weiss said. “Since I don’t have an extensive knowledge on field hockey, I just did my best to give listeners an idea of what was going on in my own way. When freshman Kailyn Brandt scored, I didn’t have anything planned to say but I think the call was pretty good and I like to think listeners were entertained. I had a good time and look forward to calling some basketball games this year.”
Another student broadcaster is junior Matt Aubin, who, when not broadcasting Shoremen baseball games in the spring, can be found working public announcements during soccer and field hockey games. Aubin got his first taste at baseball broadcasts last spring and is looking forward to getting back to work in a few months’ time.
“What initially drew me to baseball was my background with the sport,” Aubin said. “I felt that my knowledge was good enough for me to have an opportunity to find success in the broadcasting world.”
“Starting out as a broadcaster, I struggled a lot because I had underestimated the job. I feel as if with every game I get a little better and quicker with making calls. In the past I struggled as a beginner because I wasn’t used to the pace and the quick transitions that you need to make while the ball is in play,” he said.
However, this upcoming spring, he hopes to be able to follow his own advice and call the play he sees and slow the game down.
If you’re unable to attend an upcoming WC athletic event or would simply prefer to hear the WC broadcasters from your dorm room, check out GooseNationTV.com for your listening pleasure.