Most University of Portland students and faculty get a front row seat to all UP sports action on campus. But what about the viewers at home?
For those that can’t make it to the game, broadcasters act as their eyes and ears on the ground and can provide rich detail and background for viewers.
With an integral role for those streaming games, The Beacon talked to the voices of Pilot Athletics --- Angela Harrison, Jennier Mountain, Bryan Sleik and Ann Schatz -- about their careers and interests.
Getting started in sports broadcasting
For Sleik, a play-by-play broadcaster for UP’s men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball programs, his dreams of sports broadcasting began in his elementary school days at a meet and greet with Chicago Cubs play-by-play broadcaster Pat Hughes.
“I’ve been guiding myself towards this [career] path since second grade,” Sleik said.
While Sleik’s career trajectory has been pointed toward broadcasting since his youth, Mountain found a passion for the job much later in life.
After coaching college basketball for 25 years at Gonzaga University, Santa Clara University and Portland State University, Mountain stumbled across the job as a basketball broadcast analyst. After having the opportunity to fill in for an absent UP broadcaster at the last minute, she fell in love with the position.
“For me it kind of fills the void of coaching,” Mountain said. “It keeps me involved with all my peers and obviously keeps me involved in the game I love.”
Trailblazing play-by-play analyst Schatz got her start in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where she was the city’s first female sports reporter and covered the weekend sports news.
After her time in Omaha, Schatz packed up and headed out to the west coast. In doing so she became the first female sports reporter in Portland at KOIN. She started play-by-play work in 2005 and has been a legendary figure in the field ever since, covering major events like the Olympic Games for KOIN and the Boston Marathon for ESPN.
A behind the scenes look at game day
According to Schatz, the most demanding kind of game day prep work takes place before the season even starts. She finds the work of profiling a whole team in detail to be a painstaking task, and the work doesn’t end there. After Schatz has the details down, the updating never stops.
“You’re letting numbers tell some magical stories,” Schatz said “You’re digging around, you’re looking for hot spells. That takes time — if you want to give it the time.”
Harrison, a soccer broadcast analyst, certainly does her prep work but also recognizes as a color commentator the importance of keeping broadcasts fun, simple, and clear.
“It's a game,” Harrison said. “It should be fun for the parents [of the players] and fans and people who are watching.”
Harrison also emphasized that her ability to keep these broadcasts fun and clear is made possible by the play-by-play analysts she works with. They are all willing to cover the details in depth, which help add more nuance to the games.
The trailblazing ways of duo Schatz and Mountain
Schatz and Mountain are the only all female broadcasting team covering both women’s and men’s college basketball in the nation. An achievement that Schatz calls, “full of emotion.”
Schatz, despite her in demand status in the broadcasting field, is grateful for her historic job at UP and credits UP’s Vice President for Athletics Executives Scott Leykam and Senior Associate Athletic Director Jason Brough for the opportunity.
“The neat thing is that they don’t make a big deal out of it [being an all female broadcasting team] like it's some gimmick,” Schatz said. “I’m thrilled that they just let us do our jobs. It is an honor to be in a position that you don’t see very often. That’s the administration saying, “It’s no big deal, let’s just put the best where they need to be. Rock and roll let’s go.”
When Schatz and Mountain are asked about each other, they enthusiastically share.
“Jennifer’s only been doing this for three or four years and hand in glove she's a natural,” Schatz said. “Working with her is a joy because she cares about the same things that the good ones care about. She can go as high as she wants in this job because she's excellent.”
“[Schatz] is the best.” Mountain said. “She’s been such a great mentor to me, a great friend to me, she’s helped me in this business and to me, she’s one of the premier women broadcasters in the country.”
Excitement for pilot athletics
Sleik says that UP athletics are on the up and up. Sleik is excited about budding success for the volleyball, basketball and baseball programs and the starpower of UP student athletes like women’s basketball standout Alex Fowler. He’s also proud of the attitudes of student athletes on campus.
“You have multiple players on these teams that play with heart, play with effort,” Sleik said. “You’d be proud that they represent the school you go to. Everybody on these teams right now is very approachable — easy to talk to. They want to create an imprint on the University in a positive way. I think that goes a long way in building community on campus with everybody included.”
Maggie Dapp is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.