08 February 2016

Wonderfully busy start to 2016

I can assure you, fewer than 40 days in, that 2016 is a year I will never forget.

But if my year's signature moment already happened (I've been on my version of paternity leave since the NWSL College Draft on Jan. 15), that still leaves another 11 months to try and maintain a solid body of work.

Thankfully, I've set my plans for most of the next two months with a schedule that will be fun but will also challenge me.

That's not my pom-pom, I promise.
It starts this week, with two basketball games as part of my five-game stint covering the MAAC for ESPN3. One of those five is already in the books, although the game we were attempting to broadcast was curtailed by a leaky ceiling.

So on Thursday, it's up to the Bronx to see Manhattan play Quinnipiac (8 p.m. ET, ESPN3), while Friday will see me taking the PATH train back out to Jersey City to give the Yanitelli Center a second chance as St. Peter's hosts Niagara (7 p.m. ET, ESPN3). To complete my MAAC stint, I'll be up in Buffalo at Canisius for a men's game on Feb. 20 and a women's game on Feb. 25.

The MAAC is pretty much a one-bid league, but it's a really exciting one. While Monmouth is one of the most talked-about mid-majors in the country this year, Manhattan is the two-time defending tournament champion, and all the schools I've researched have either a great scorer, a great story, or both. Since moving to New York in the fall of 2013, I've been hoping to do some broader basketball coverage, and I'm excited to get this chance.
Once March rolls around, though, it will be back to my bread and butter. While I won't be a regular part of Red Bulls radio broadcasts this year, I've got five televised MLS games and a US women's national team game already lined up, and that's more in-person TV work than I get in some MLS seasons. I'll work FC Dallas-Philadelphia Union for opening day on March 6, and then I'll call play-by-play for at least three Red Bulls games on the MSG Networks while lead voice Steve Cangialosi is on Devils duty. I've actually never called a TV game at Red Bull Arena (my MSG work last year came on the road), so I'm looking forward to that first.

These games really get me excited to start what I hope is going to be a terrific year of broadcast work (while I simultaneously figure out how to raise a child, cook for my wife, study for those games, and, y'know, sleep). I hope you'll enjoy any portion of it that you might catch!

15 January 2016

2016 NWSL College Draft

On January 15, I hosted the video stream of the NWSL College Draft, the first time the league's draft has been video streamed.
While it took a whole four hours and certainly stretched our abilities of pontification and endurance, it was a blast. I worked really hard in the build-up to research the player pool, which was pretty difficult considering there was not much consensus after the top 20.

The actual event turned out really well, I thought. I enjoyed getting to meet and interview the players in attendance, I wound up having researched 39 of the 40 players actually selected, and despite the stress, I just had fun.

It was also great to work with a fellow Rice alum, Jen Cooper of Keeper Notes fame, whom I have known since I was an undergraduate sports editor and she was the school advisor to the student newspaper; we talked soccer even then!

Here's the draft, in all its glory:

14 January 2016

2016 MLS SuperDraft

On January 14, I was an analyst on the MLSsoccer.com stream of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
Full archive:

22 December 2015

Late fall broadcasts in photos

After being unsure of what (if!) my schedule would look like after college soccer conference championships on Nov. 8, I was fortunate enough to stay busy into the first weekend of December.

While running here, there, and everywhere to call three different sports, I found time to snap a picture or two to remember it all by:
A soccer field nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains …… our home for the weekend at Appalachian State.

Clearly, one of us is more comfortable in cold weather.With my new friend and partner, Eddie Rodriguez.

Happened to be in Oklahoma right before the Bedlam football game.Also got to see Historic Gallagher-Iba Arena.

My actual work was at Reynolds Center, always a house of horrors for Rice.But it treated Bryndon Manzer and me just fine.

In December, I enjoyed the scene at Georgia Southern.Not that Vonnie Holliday and I weren't hard at work.

Taking selfies …… and enjoying a great atmosphere in a budding rivalry

05 December 2015

Gorgeous setting for my last broadcast of 2015

I have this vague memory of seeing, on television, a college football team in simple, blue and white uniforms, playing on a grass field with fans standing on hills to watch, running the heck out of the triple option. I watched long enough to hear the announcers refer to the stadium as the Prettiest Little Stadium in America, and I thought, "I would love to see a game there some day."

The team was Georgia Southern, six-time champions of the NCAA's Division I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision, or FCS), and they now play at the FBS level, in an enlarged stadium, with an attack still predicated on the run, but operated out of the shotgun.

Some day is today.

I'll be calling Georgia Southern against Georgia State on ESPN3 Saturday afternoon at 2pm ET. It's not the biggest game of the day, but I'm excited to be working and excited to get this specific assignment.

The game has one of the most prolific passing offenses in Division I football (Georgia State ranks 8th in FBS) against the best rushing attack (Georgia Southern leads FBS). Not bad for a fall Saturday.

It's also the last game at Paulson Stadium before the natural grass surface is replaced by artificial turf. While I understand the economic realities of the decision to switch, I'm glad I get to see a game here while it's still got real grass.

Hopefully those classic Georgia Southern uniforms don't change any time soon!

Looking forward to a fun one!

26 November 2015

If this doesn't make you smile …

Thankful for all the chances to live, work, travel, and take pictures with mascots!

17 November 2015

Tables turned, I become the interviewee

It doesn't happen often, but a fellow media professional turned the tables and made me the interviewee this week, as I had the good fortune of being a guest on the Mixxed Zone podcast with my long-time colleague, Jen Cooper. We didn't do TOO much Rice reminiscing (at least not that we recorded), but it's good fun.

Jen (aka The Keeper) is one of the people who knows the most about women's soccer, and it's always a pleasure to be part of and discuss that world. Take a listen:
You can also download the episode directly via this link.

10 November 2015

JY20: An introduction

Monday marked the first day of practice for high school ice hockey teams in my home state of New Jersey, which means, in 2015-16, that it marks the beginning of my 20th year covering those teams (that's me, age 13, on the right). The milestone is bittersweet, because it will probably be my last year covering New Jersey high school hockey for Hockey Night in Boston and maybe even the last year of my website, NJHockey.org, which I have run since I was a freshman in college in 2001-02.

Increasing professional and family responsibilities mean less free time for the ‘hobby’ role that hockey takes, and while I am thrilled about everything going on in my life, it will definitely be strange for me if and when I am absent from the New Jersey hockey scene.

Over the years, I have been asked countless times – by coaches, parents, friends, roommates – WHY I keep track of every game played by boys’ varsity ice hockey teams in New Jersey. Why I stay up almost every night for four months inputting scores into three separate spreadsheets. Why this continued when I lived in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana and I saw very few games in person. Why I’ve continued to track and monitor a fairly average group of players and teams (no offense, guys!) in a sport that does not rank among New Jersey’s or the country’s most significant.

“I can’t imagine not doing it,” has probably been my most frequent response, and it’s true. If I stopped running my website, then decided in January that I wanted to know who was in first place in the Mennen Division, or how East Side was faring this season, how would I find that information? Would it be accurate? How often would it be updated? Would it reflect game results the way I would list them?

But there’s much more to it than that. For the last 20 years, despite never having played or coached the sport, I have been welcomed and accepted into a unique community of New Jersey hockey people. They rely on me and talk the game with me, and we all enjoy that. But they also root for me and support me and ask how they can help, and there are many I consider friends. Walking into a New Jersey hockey rink -- most of them, anyway -- feels like coming home. It is a community I cherish and love and will never forget.

Why do I love it so much? Maybe this 20th year of coverage, in which I intend to increase my published writing at blog.njhockey.org and continue to provide Twitter updates via @NJ_Hockey, will be my way of trying to explain and document why and how New Jersey high school ice hockey has been an integral part of my life every winter since before I even reached high school.

I will not post too much about ice hockey on this blog, but the posts I do make during this 20th season can be found via this link.

06 November 2015

Overtime drama in American Athletic Conference women's soccer semifinals!

Given that I woke up at 6:22 am ET in New York this morning, flew to Dallas, called two overtime soccer games, and got back to my guest room at 11 pm CT this evening, I'm feeling pretty good.

I got to call two entertaining, dramatic games today in the American Athletic Conference women's soccer tournament, I did it with a very good partner and crew, and I got to call sudden-death game-winners each time.

Check out the highlights:
Game 1 - UConn vs. Cincinnati:

Game 2 - USF vs. UCF:

Not a bad day's work! Now to get ready for Sunday's final.

05 November 2015

Catching up with Megan Rapinoe, a soccer flashback, and more

OK, so I've been a delinquent blogger lately. I've got some good excuses, but let's try to provide a brief recap:

Since my one-off return to college football in Troy with the inimitable Mickey Matthews on Sept. 12, I have called four college soccer games (one men's, three women's) with three different partners, all in different parts of the country. I've seen some great goals, a landmark win for Mississippi State (which was extra cool to see because I saw them struggle last year), and a rematch of last year's national championship game in women's soccer.

The highlight, however, had to be meeting and interviewing US women's national team star Megan Rapinoe, a woman I respect as much for her off-field public personality and leadership as for her on-field exploits. By just about all accounts, she's one of the best role models you could suggest for a niece, nephew, child, or friend. She was on hand at the Oct. 18 Portland-Santa Clara game as the Pilots celebrated their 2005 national championship team, on which she played, and joined another former Pilot, Shannon MacMillan, and me for an interview at the start of the second half.

Even more good news is that my soccer season is far from over. I just arrived in Dallas to call the American Athletic Conference women's semifinals (today, for the American Digital Network) and final (Sunday, for ESPN3/ESPNU). With the tournament being held at SMU's Westcott Field, this brings back some memories: As a student, I called Rice's trip to the 2003 WAC Tournament at the same venue, culminating in a heartbreaking, last-minute loss to SMU, then the conference's powerhouse.

I'm pretty sure those were my first soccer games called on the road, and I definitely remember some technical difficulties (note the old-school connection via phone line and an actual phone). Probably a good thing that, to my knowledge anyway, no copies of those games exist!

The four teams left in this year's field are all competitive, with UConn leading the way at No. 10 in the country, and links to watch the games can be found here.

At any rate, next weekend I will turn back to the men's game, calling the Sun Belt Conference men's tournament in the somewhat remote town of Boone, N.C., home to Appalachian State University, in what will likely close the book on my 2015 soccer season.

Much more on that later, however. For now, I'm off to watch and call some top-25 teams play elimination games with a conference title and more on the line. Not bad at all!