A New Year’s Opportunity

The message came when I least expected it. It was New Year’s Eve just a few years ago and I was watching Notre Dame play in the Sun Bowl on TV. I happened to have my laptop near me when I noticed I received a Facebook message.

I opened the message and saw it was from my neighbor down the street. Her son played hockey for Solon and as I read through the message, I was in a state of disbelief and excited.

Solon Educational Television needed someone to do play-by-play for the Solon hockey game on Jan. 2nd and I was asked if I was interested. I read through the message twice and was ecstatic to have the opportunity fall in my lap.

I had not called any sporting event in nearly three years at that time. When I graduated from Otterbein, announcing opportunities had not come about like they had before and I wondered if I would ever grace the microphone again.

Sure enough, the opportunity was right in front of me.

I sent a message back saying I would do it and spent most of next morning trying to reach the right people. As awkward as it felt calling people I didn’t know on a holiday, I wanted the opportunity and didn’t want it to slip away. Within a couple phone calls, I had my first announcing opportunity lined up.

The rust was there when I called that game on Jan. 2nd but the passion from years past was as strong as ever. Calling games had been a favorite past time of mine growing up and the passion I developed was still there.

Doing that hockey game has opened up the doors for many opportunities. I have not only done hockey but have returned to the booth to do volleyball, wrestling, and basketball.

One of the doors it opened up was doing play-by-play for Solon football. For two years in high school, my broadcast partner, Chuck Chokenea, and I called games together and I always wondered if we would get to call the games together once again. That dream became a reality this past fall when I had the chance to call the entire Solon home schedule with him. Being in the booth with one of the best broadcast partners I have had was a pleasure in itself.

On occasion, calling the games has given me an opportunity to reconnect with old supporters and friends. Tom Iwan, my old track coach in high school, always supported me and it is always great to see his smiling face whenever I call a game. He usually works the scoreboard for the games and it is great to always see him.

Solon volleyball head coach Missy Fitzgerald and Solon wrestling coach Tony Digiovanni have also been huge supporters as well.

One of the biggest thrills I got prior to calling a volleyball match this past fall was running into former Solon assistant volleyball coach Lisa Grimm. Lisa was one of my favorite teachers growing up and having a chance to reconnect was special for me. It was great to talk with her and catch up. I was so happy to see her prior to that match and talk with her once again.

The support I have received from calling the games has been tremendous. Prior to taking pictures at a Solon football game, a couple parents asked if I would get a chance to announce the Solon home games.

On a separate occasion, I was preparing to do a Solon hockey game a year or two ago when I was approached by a Solon hockey supporter:

“Did you call the game the other week?”

I replied that I did and received the following response:

“You did an incredible job!”

Needless to say, this person has been a huge supporter of mine and other hockey parents get excited when I show up to call the games.

As I sit here as the final hours of 2013 tick away, I think back to that New Year’s Eve a few years ago. One simple message opened up more doors than ever and I am grateful for that.


~ by jeffrsabo on December 31, 2013.

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