I've spent many years in the television industry gaining intrest in high school when Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Carey inspired me to attempt sports play-by-play (despite being a die hard White Sox fan). I did some job shadows at WGFA-Radio in Watseka on some of their sports broadcasts of high school sports in East-Central Illinois.
After high school, I chose to attend the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL to play baseball. While there, I studied in the Mass Communication department where I eventually earned my Bacherlor of Arts. While at St. Francis, I got to try my hand on-air as a color commentator for Mena's and Women's Basketball, but I learned it was behind the camera where was I wanted to be.
In the spring of my senior year, I took a 40-hour a week internship at Fox Sports Net Chicago. A lot of time was spent watching Bulls and Blackhawks games and logging them shot by shot so a PA could later cut highlights. Later in the internship, I earned the respect of my supervisors and was assigned with editing VO's and VO/SOTS for the nightly shows.
It was during my time at HOI that I was introduced to the freelance world by co-worker and freelancer Bill Neff. My first game was a Big Ten basketball game for ESPN Regional at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City in February of 2004. The game featured the University of Iowa vs. the University of Minnesota and I ran a handheld camera under neath the basket trying desperately to not let anyone figure out it was my first game and I really didn't know what I was doing. There was a huge learning curve that first afternoon. None of the equipment looked familiar and I had no idea what a triax was let alone how to hook it up.
From there things started to build slowly. I worked as a utility for College Sports Nets coverage of the Big Ten Baseball tournament and eventually got a couple jobs the next fall shooting Missouri Valley Conference sports including soccer and more basketball. I also shot my first football game at Northern Iowa University.
I got a couple of national gigs after that as a shooter for Jeep King of the Mountain on CBS in Elkhart Lake, WI and for a big show of the short lived International Fight League that aired on Fox Sports Network from Moline, Illinois. The biggest event though was running the pool camera for future President Barack Obama's announcment on the steps of the Old State Capitol Building in Springfield, IL that he would be running for (and eventually winning) President of the United States.
Things really picked up when the Big Ten Network launched in 2007. I was able to get my foot in the door early and worked several football games that season traveling to Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa and Illinois. That carried over in to basketball season and eventually the spring season as well. I also picked up some work locally in Peoria for ESPN and Fox Sports Net Ohio.
Things continued going well with BTN until I moved to Lansing, MI in March of 2008. Fortunately, I was able to hook up with the Michigan crewer right away and got in on a couple baseball and softball games at U of M and I kept my name in the mix back in Illinois so I got some work there too as I tried to make the transition to full time freelancer.
The summer of 2008 saw me back in Chicago a few more times. I shot a rugby match for Sky Sports and an MLS soccer game for Fox Soccer. In the fall, I jumped right back in to football with my first NFL game and the first football game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis then picked up a few more dates for BTN.
I did some random work in 2009 for BTN in both Illinois and Michigan, worked some studio shows and a couple hockey games for Comcast out of Southfield, MI, and did whatever I could to find enough work to keep the checks rolling in.
The summer of 2009 I had my first steady work in a little over a year as I worked in the marketing department for the Lansing Lugnuts...the Low A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. I was the camera operator for their scoreboard operations for about 95% of the home games that summer.
By fall of 2009, I had worked my way in to almost every show that BTN did at Michigan State Universtiy. It started with fall sports and went all the way through basketball season. By then, another life change as I got married and my wife's job took her to Kalamazoo. I continued working at MSU as a local, but eventually work dried up and with very little Western Michigan University games being televised, I was forced to start looking for a full time job in news.
I continued to try and keep my name out there, but the only full time work I was able to find was on weekends at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids as an editor. That cut in to my freeleance work which dried up for a couple of years. Eventually, I worked my way in to a full time news photographer position at WXMI in Grand Rapids, but a few months later, my old station, WOOD-TV, came calling with an offer for full time work at a better price. I ended up going back after two months and that's where I am today.
It took my four years to get off a weekend shift and freelance work was sparse over that time, but now that I'm off weekends and Western Michigan hockey and football are doing well, the gigs are starting to show up again. I've done several hockey games for the American Sports Network recently as well as some work with CBS Sports Net.
As the years go on, I continue to gain more experience and am always looking to make more contacts in the industry.