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Diary of a Sportscaster: The Last Seven Days

Regular readers on Sportscaster Life may have noticed a bit of a lull through the latter stages of January and into the start of February. There has been good reason for that on two fronts, one I which I’m addressing here today. It’s been an extremely hectic time over the last few weeks, culminating in perhaps the most eventful and dramatic seven days of my sportscasting career this past week. With every post on Sportscaster Life, the goal is to inform, educate and entertain. I’m unsure there’s much informative or educational about this story, but I’m sure for fellow sportscasters who have been through similar trials…it’ll be entertaining.

So here is a diary of the last seven days:

Monday January 29th, 2018
It was an early start as I had been asked by the team I work for, the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League, to attend league marketing meetings in Vancouver. It meant a 7am flight from Powell River to arrive for the 8:30 start. I was excited for the meetings as it was a chance to help steer the marketing efforts of the league and teams forward, while meeting and reconnecting with several colleagues across the province.

The day however took a dramatic turn when I was informed midway through that the team’s Board of Directors had made the decision to relieve the Head Coach and GM of his duties. It was a coach who had been with the team for around 25 of its 30 year history and was a fixture, almost synonymous with the team. So focus quickly shifted from the meetings to drafting press releases and lining up all my ducks on social media for when I got the official ‘ok’ to make the move public.

As the meetings wrapped for the day, my job became not only distributing this information but also managing our social media accounts and handling several media requests. After a brief dinner where I had my laptop open monitoring everything, I went back to the hotel to process an eventful day. Thankfully social media died down early in the evening and I spent the rest of the night watching planes land at YVR.

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Tuesday January 30th, 2018
As fallout from the decision on Monday continued, my focus had to shift back into sportscaster mode and towards our next game. In early November, my team was making the trip from Powell River to Wenatchee, WA to play. Around 30 minutes south of the US/Canada border, our bus broke down and we were forced to miss that game. That’s a whole other story, however the makeup game was scheduled for Wednesday. The team, with its new Interim Head Coach would practice in Powell River in the morning, then I would meet them in the evening at the team hotel in Langley, about a 90 minute transit-trek from my hotel by Vancouver airport.

I had arranged to record an interview with the team’s President on Monday’s news, which I did in the afternoon at the hotel, but Tuesday was a travel day while also continuing to field requests for interviews and information. I arrived ahead of the team and checked in to begin prepping for the game. I recorded the phone interview then got all my prep sheets and spotting boards ready for Wednesday. It’s rare as a sportscaster that I get this time on the road, so I was able to take advantage of 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time to focus on the game…a luxury.

Once the team arrived at the hotel, I connected with them, went to dinner and then began interviewing players on not only the decision but also the game ahead. Players were fantastic to deal with, receptive to chatting and all in all this was a solid ‘off’ day, despite being actively plugged in for much of the travel.

Wednesday January 31st, 2018
Game day as the Kings were due in Wenatchee for a 6:30pm puck drop.Team breakfast in the morning then right on the bus around 10am, through the border and a thankfully uneventful trip down to Wenatchee for a 4pm arrival at the rink. The toughest part of this day was interviewing the team’s new Interim Head Coach, who had served under the outgoing coach as an assistant. He was still processing much of what had happened and while I asked him on the last 24-48 hours, we focused more on the game ahead.

The game itself wasn’t bad. A slow start from the team before outplaying a very good Wenatchee team in the 2nd period saw the Kings down 2-1 after two periods. However the Wild took advantage of some mistakes in the third and skated away to a 5-2 win. Right after the game the team headed back to Canada, arriving back in Langley around 3am. A quick upload of some game material from Wednesday night and it was to bed before an early start on Thursday.

Thursday February 1st, 2018
A pretty quiet day. Travel back to Powell River after leaving Langley around 11am, we arrived home in time for dinner.

Friday February 2nd, 2018
Game day as the Kings opened up a seven game home stand against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. There were a lot of unknown going into this game given the news earlier in the week. The court of public opinion was still deliberating, but everything at the game went well except the result. The Kings lost the game in overtime 4-3 but had a lot of positives to take out of the contest. Given everything that had happened earlier in the week, this was about as close to a ‘normal game’ as I could have hoped for.

Saturday February 3rd, 2018
Game day. The Kings and Bulldogs played the 2nd leg of a weekend double header. This one will go down, probably forever, as the most movie-like game I’ve ever called. To give a bit of context, the Kings have been ravaged by injuries this year. We lead the league (by a long way) in games played by affiliate (reserve) players and have routinely had 4-7 players out of the lineup since mid-September. The team has also been down to one goalie since the start of December. Our starter missed December representing Team Canada, while our backup injured himself over the Christmas break and is still out of the lineup. So to cover the team has been routinely calling up a local goaltender to play as an emergency backup. The caveat is that he only can get in, if the starter is injured.

So cue the Disney movie script and as a sportscaster this is the type of situation you dream of calling. Late in the first period the Kings starter gets run into by a pair of players and the teams trainer motions to the bench indicating a goalie change needed to happen. The place goes nuts. The goalie skates out and faces a couple of shots in the first period, stops all but 1 in the 2nd and everything in the 3rd. The kid was unreal and with each passing save, every minute that came off the clock, the crowd got louder and louder.

The team in front of him did an amazing job as well, team defence at its best. In the end, he back stops the team to a 4-1 win in his first Junior hockey game, stopping 21 of 22 shots. An incredible end to the game with the ovation from the crowd, then again when he was named the game’s first star (easiest decision ever).

A great end to an absolutely wild week. A flight, a meeting, a crazy media day, three games and almost 600 miles on the bus in one week. What’s been your craziest week in sportscasting? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.

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