For the past three and a half years, the voice behind F&M Athletics has been student commentator, Bryan Stabbe ’13.
Stabbe worked with his high school football team as an assistant coach, managed the basketball team, and played baseball. These experiences brought him to college with a love for athletics, as well as a solid knowledge of many sports.
“I knew that when I got here I probably wasn’t going to be able to work in the same capacity but I didn’t want all of my experience to go to waste,” Stabbe said. “I really enjoyed the team atmsophere and the behind-the-scenes aspect.”
Stabbe immediately pursued his passion for working with athletics during first-year orientation. He walked into the office of athletic communications and asked if there was any way he could use the skills he had previously accrued. Coincidentally, the office was replacing its color commentator.
“It was a matter of being at the right place at the right time,” Stabbe said.
The color commentator’s job is to respond to what the play-by-play commentator says, describing why the play happened and what is going on.
Stabbe agreed to commentate even though he had never done so before. His first game was against Catholic University. Although he was nervous, by the end of the game he realized his passion for announcing.
“After one half I realized it combined my love of hearing myself talk and my love of sports, and those are my two favorite things,” Stabbe said.
Since then, he has never missed calling a football game. He has also branched out to covering basketball, soccer, field hockey, and baseball.
“I once covered volleyball, knowing nothing about it, and it was one of the most fun experiences I ever had,” Stabbe said.
Stabbe also travels with teams to many of their away games.
“I like being able to get up early, load the van up with the equipment, and go to the other schools in the conference and see how they are different from F&M,” Stabbe said. “I also love when F&M wins at home or on the road.”
Stabbe has enjoyed working with the office of athletic communication under both Steve Peed, former director of athletic communications, and Mickey Blymier, the current director. He also has enjoyed getting acquainted with other athletic staff and coaches.
“I know it’s a full-time job so I try not to bother them too much, but it’s cool to be there and talk to people like Coach Robinson who is a living legend or Coach Troxell who is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” Stabbe said.
Stabbe believes announcing the games is a perfect way to bridge the gap between being a fan and having it as a job.
“I would be at all the games even if I wasn’t calling them, but it’s nice to be a part of it,” Stabbe said.
Stabbe has faced several challenges throughout his experience of learning to call the games. It is hard to pick up a new sport, and Stabbe has covered sports he has less experience with, such as soccer and field hockey.
“Sometimes you don’t even know what you are going to say before you start saying it,” Stabbe said. “I need to think of new ways to be insightful and not talk just to fill dead air.”
He also faces challenges when the season changes with adjusting to another sport and rearranging his schedule.
“I miss every season as soon as it’s over,” Stabbe said. “At the end of every football season I wish it was the start of football season and at the end of every basketball season I wish it was the start of basketball season. It is hard to get timing down and emotionally I always miss it.”
Some of the highlights of Stabbe’s career include two football bowl games, three centennial conference tournaments for basketball, and the first two rounds of the Division III NCAA tournament.
“When we went to the Elite 8 it was one of the most exciting atmospoheres I have ever been a part of,” Stabbe said.
Stabbe hopes all students interested in sports broadcasting will reach out to the office of athletic communications.
“We always need more people to call games and we’re always looking for people to go on the air and help out behind the scenes,” Stabbe said.
In addition to people who want to be on the air, they are looking for people who have an interest in running the camera, working the switchboard on the computer, and other production-related tasks.
The department has recently invested in an HD system which allows instant replays and graphics to be on the air. Broadcasts are streamed on godiplomats.com and are broadcast on WFNM, the College’s radio station. Some have been picked up by WFNM as rebroadcasts.
“Even if people don’t have a background [broadcasting] is easy to pick up and has a nice learning curve,” Stabbe said.”
After graduation, Stabbe hopes he can continue commentating in some capacity.
“It’s an incredibly difficult profession to get into,” Stabbe said. “I’ve made some good contacts and it’s something I hope I’m not done with after I graduate.”
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