I was always interested in announcing because I had attended Bulls’ games and loved hearing the announcer. I would watch games on TV and announce all the players, even learn about the opposing team. I thought if I was really interested, I should learn more about it and give it a try.
Mr. Burnham, CICS Northtown’s Associate Director at the time, said that I could try doing the school announcements for one day. When it was the day of, Mr. Burnham had the announcements ready and said, “just do whatever you feel comfortable doing, the entire school is listening to you!” It was kind of nerve-wracking at the time because I didn’t want to slip up! When the bell rang, I hit the mic button for the first time and went with my own announcement style. I read the bulletin and finished it with, “let’s make today—like every day—a great day.”
When I was done, Mr. Burnham was like, “great job today, kid” and I did the announcements again the next day. At the end of the week, I met with Mr. Burnham and [current Associate Director] Ms. Kreiling. They asked, “what do you think about doing the announcements from now on?” and I was like, “Yeah I’d love to do it!”
Two or three weeks after I started, I would do the announcements with the door open. There were a couple of students outside the office who realized “oh my god that’s Jeremiah!” Whoever was friends with me on Facebook knew— I was bragging about doing the announcements on social media. Everybody found out by the end of the year. A lot of people really like it. I definitely see appreciation from the staff. Students do like it too, especially now that I’m a senior and this is my final year.
Along with Mr. Novick, a Social Studies teacher and the sound expert of our school, I hosted a contest to find a replacement. We’ve been doing trials and the whole school voted for one of four people who did announcements for four weeks. I trained the four contestants so they’d get more comfortable, which was a little emotional for me because I knew my time was coming to an end in my senior year. At the same time it felt great trying to help someone improve their image and voice at CICS Northtown. Everyone chose Jonathan C., who I think is the best choice voice-wise. The other three contestants all showcased good skill and announcing, but Jonathon was most comfortable in front of a mic and when he reads, he has a deep booming voice that carries well. I’m proud of the choice that the school made! I hope that he enjoys it.
After I started to do the school announcements my sophomore year, I’m such a big sports fan that I figured: why not announce the sports at CICS Northtown? None of the teams had announcers and I was on the JV basketball team at the time, so I would announce the varsity team after my game. I really enjoyed hearing my voice booming in the gym. It was daunting, because I had to do the visiting team’s names that I wasn’t familiar with. But that built up an announcing skill for the future so that when I do come across new names, I can be more familiar with what I’ve seen before.
Next year I made myself the manager of game presentation. I would assign who sang the national anthem, made scripts for announcements, and organized another person to announce the boys’ varsity basketball games since I was on the team that year. I switched to announcing the girls’ basketball games, and at the very first home game last year I was approached by a referee, Kenneth Vasser, who said, “Hey you’ve got a great voice, I could see you doing that long-term.” He was also an announcer at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). I exchanged information with him and he told me how to become an announcer for UIC games. At that moment I couldn’t believe it, I was thinking “is this some kind of networking thing right now?”
I came out to a game at UIC and met with the manager of game entertainment. We talked, and I watched him announce the game. I got approved to announce in the spring baseball season.
I remember the day before was such a nice day. The sun was shining and I was so excited for the game the next day—but it rained and the game got cancelled! It was heartbreaking. But Mr. Vasser, the person who gave me the connection to UIC, actually gave me his game for the next Saturday so I could announce.
I came in to the Curtis Granderson stadium and took what I knew from always going to Cubs’ games. I thought about the Cubs’ announcer’s style and mixed it with mine. I announced the full game at UIC, which was my first time announcing in a stadium! I got to see behind the scenes and meet the people in the stadium. It is something I’ll cherish for a long time.
In November I also got put in for women’s basketball, that was probably the best experience so far. The whole table of people that manage the basketball games also work at Bulls’ games. When they heard my voice, they were shocked! They were like “who is this kid?” I think I got the most compliments from doing that game. The announcer who does men’s basketball at UIC is Ray Clay, he used to do Bulls’ games in 90s. I get to back him up for a men’s basketball game this Sunday!
This has definitely helped my public speaking skills- from the time that I started to now, I’ve become much more comfortable with making any kind of presentation. I don’t worry about criticism or facing a crowd. The aim is to be comfortable so that someday I if I were the Bulls announcer, I could read anything in front of 22,000 fans. The numbers wouldn’t be so intimidating for the future if I get on TV or radio as well.
In college I’ll be presenting more in front of a class. But announcing has made me more comfortable hearing my own voice, presenting myself, and trying to become more socially active in the community. It will be a huge benefit for me when people look at my resume and see that I started announcing when I was 14.
I applied to UIC, and am waiting to hear back about acceptance. I also applied to other schools where I want to major in broadcasting or communications. I got into Columbia, that’s a possible choice, and so is NIU. In the next four years I will get experience and learn more presentation strategies. Hopefully someday I’ll be on the radio, or announcing a Chicago sports team, or be on TV hosting something.
My mom’s in full support of this— she attends every UIC game that I’ve announced so far and she comes to few CICS Northtown games when she can. She is really supportive of me and excited to see where it leads
I would like to get the message out for anyone reading this– keep striving for what you want to do.
Do something you want to do, keep doing it, and keep getting better at it. Always be positive. If you enjoy something, people will see that you’re good at it and new opportunities might open up for you.