State Stories

17

Adam Amin, From Addison Trail To ESPN

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Q: For most aspiring broadcasters, ESPN is the ultimate goal. What does it feel like to be there before turning 30?
A: Forget "dream come true". I'm like...five dreams past that at this point. I'm incredibly lucky and grateful to be in this position. In my mind, I always had the thought, "I'll get there someday. I'll get there someday." But never did I ever think that I'd get a phone call at age 24 from ESPN. It's the best job in the world and I promise, I don't take it for granted.

Q: What was your high school experience like? Did you participate in any sports or activities? Did you know then you wanted to be a broadcaster?
A: I was a jack of all trades, master of none at Addison Trail. I participated in EVERYTHING I possibly could. Between football and basketball my first two years, volleyball all four years, orchestra, choir, theater, the Pay It Forward program, Best Buddies, it seemed like I never had a spare moment, but that's the way I liked it and that's the way it is now! I had a great high school experience and I had a lot of freedom to explore all the things that I enjoyed doing.

As for broadcasting, I didn't even know it was a real job! I broadcasted a couple of football games my senior year for the public access station and it was just another thing to add to my list of cool things I enjoyed doing. It wasn't until an older friend of mine with whom I went to high school suggested that I join him at Valparaiso University to continue pursuing broadcasting.

Q: Were there any teachers then who supported your dream or mentors who have helped you in your broadcasting career?
A: I could talk all day about the incredibly supportive people who I've been lucky to be surrounded by since my high school days. There were several teachers in high school, professors in college, and a number of mentors along the way that have gone to bat for me when they certainly had no reason to. I probably owe more debts than I can ever repay. Ian Eagle at CBS Sports was the guy who took the biggest chance on me, introducing me to the right people and putting his reputation on the line for me.

Q: The IHSA was lucky enough to have you call the Girls Volleyball State Finals on www.IHSA.tv in 2010. What was that experience like?
A: I was so nervous! Volleyball was my sport in high school and I had actually broadcasted a ton of it on radio during college. But I had NEVER called it on TV. As a matter of fact, I hadn't worked much television at all to that point in my career. But it was an exhilarating experience to be there. To call those matches with one of my closest friends and to see the joy that those teams got to feel after winning was something that still sticks out to me today. I'm just thankful that the IHSA gave me the opportunity.




Q: Among the places you have broadcast, the best venue (in terms of atmosphere) was? The best game you have called? Your favorite sport to call?
A: It's incredibly tough to narrow it down to just one. It's hard to argue with Madison Square Garden for a basketball game when it's rocking. Georgetown is always a blast during a bigger game (I'll definitely miss the old Big East a lot). There are some outstanding mid-major atmospheres like Murray State, Wagner, & Austin Peay that can rival the big boys. Football-wise, I've been lucky enough to call Oklahoma/Oklahoma State (The BEDLAM rivalry) and it was an absolutely electric atmosphere when Oklahoma won it in overtime in front of the second largest crowd ever at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. PK Park in Eugene, Oregon for the NCAA Baseball Super Regionals brought in some outstanding fans for the Ducks' run in the postseason. And I called my first Major League Baseball games this summer for ESPN Radio with Turner Field in Atlanta as our site. When Craig Kimbrel comes in to save a game in the 9th and 50,000 people on a Friday night all come to their feet and scream, you get goosebumps. But undoubtedly (at least so far) among the places I've been, NOTHING rivals calling a Seattle Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field. The noise level hits about 137 dB; as loud as a jet engine. Those fans are some of the best, not only in the NFL, but in sports.
Maybe the best game I got to call was a history-maker in the NFL last year. I had the 8-1 Houston Texans against the 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars and a matchup that looked destined to be a blowout on paper became one of the wildest games of the season. Jacksonville pushed the top team in the AFC to the brink, took them to a grueling overtime where both teams scored a field goal before Matt Schaub hooked up with Andre Johnson for a game-winning touchdown with minutes remaining. As much fun as I've ever had calling a game.

But I CANNOT pick a favorite sport (not yet, at least). I'll just tell you that I'm a crowd-noise junkie. When the crowd is good, when the atmosphere is rocking, when the fans care, when the players are battling...that's the stuff I live for.


Adam Amin tells the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America why he loves sportscasting in the video above.


Q: Any funny, strange, interesting, or unqiue experiences on the road you care to share?
A: I was calling a game in Philadelphia at Drexel University. Drexel had just won its 15th consecutive game. Now that's a great feat to win that many games in a row in the parity-filled landscape of college basketball. But I wasn't expecting streamers and balloons to be thrown on the court after the Dragons knocked off James Madison. I also was not expecting to be in mid-sentence when a big ball of streamer came flying at me and hit me in the side of the face.

Also, about 20 minutes before I called a UCLA/Washington State football game last year, we were having our pre-game meal when a caterer plowed into me carrying a plate of chicken parmesan. Whole shirt covered in sauce, I had to sprint downstairs to my car (which THANKFULLY was parked next to the production truck), and I changed into the shirt I was planning on wearing the next day. By the way, when I finished that game around 11:30 in Pullman, WA, I hopped in a car and drove clear across the state of Washington to Seattle, arriving at my hotel at 5AM. I slept for about 3 hours before waking up, taking a shower, and driving to CenturyLink Field to call Jets/Seahawks on radio that day.

Q: Give us an idea of your week leading up to calling a college football or basketball game on ESPN.
A: I'm a preparation freak. I love getting ready for games, learning everything I can about teams and players and coaches. Trying to dig for the great stories that we get the opportunity to talk about every week. So for a Saturday football game, I'm usually getting ready on a Monday by putting together my spotting boards. I'll use the depth charts from the previous game for both teams with numbers, names, and vitals, then plug in the updated stats and rankings. I'll add in my coaches/coordinator bios and try to get some perspective my going through the prior season's stats. We usually have a conference call with the road team scheduled for Wednesday so on Tuesday, I'll dive into some press clippings, articles, previous game box scores to get some perspective on what these teams are like. Usually on Tuesday, we get that week's game notes sent to us by the team's Sports Information Directors with additional stats and storylines that we can use. Wednesday we'll have our call with the road team's coaches and a few players where we get some great in-depth info on the season and that week's game. Thursday is a travel day so I'll jet to the game site. On the plane, I'll organize and transfer our conference call notes to my spotting boards. Friday, we'll have face-to-face meetings with the home team coaches and players, get our info and on Friday night, I'll finish up my boards. Saturday morning (assuming it's a Saturday night game), our crew (producer, director, analyst, graphics) and I will all have a production meeting to go over our storylines and how we'll approach that night's game. Once I write my final notes and highlight my boards, usually it's time to relax and watch some football before getting ready and heading to the stadium a few hours before the game. Once there, I'll stop in the truck to see what our graphics will look like, then head up to the booth to record any voiceovers we need done. I'll set up my materials, maybe meet with the teams' radio announcers to grab some additional notes or nuggets to use, and speak with the SIDs once more to go over pronunciations and final loose ends. We'll rehearse our open about 30 minutes before we go on-air, tighten it up, and then once we're on, we lock in for the game.

Basketball is a little easier since there are far fewer players and far fewer storylines. Often, I'll have my charts done before I even travel and we'll arrive at the site the night before. The morning of the game, I'll head to the arena to watch shootarounds for both teams and usually we get about 15 minutes with both head coaches. We can usually talk to a player or two during the end of the shootaround as well. After those are done, I'll meet with our producer and analyst, go over some storylines and graphics, what we want to talk about in the open, and then disperse back to the hotel. We'll get dressed, head to the arena about two hours before the game, chat with some people from both teams, go over our open and graphics again, and just call the game once tipoff comes.

Now these are the situations in an ideal world. More often than not, I'm working a midweek volleyball game in the fall, a football game on TV on Friday or Saturday, then calling an NFL game on radio Sunday, trying to prepare notes and charts in between hotel stays and two-hour flights. Once November rolls around, toss in some college basketball games just to make it interesting. Sometimes it gets tough when you're dealing with this grind but hey, it beats working for a living.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: We're setting up to begin the high school football kickoff on ESPN. I'll call the Friday night high school showcase game in September and October, featuring the top prospects who are on their way to playing college football. Our crew will call some select college football games on TV and radio in September and October before sliding over to college football full-time in November. I'll work about 12-13 NFL games on Sundays for the Sports USA Radio Network. On Wednesday nights, I'll broadcast our ESPNU volleyball package, calling Pac-12, ACC, Big 12, and SEC matches. And as the MLB season gets closer to the playoffs, I'll call the occasional MLB game on radio as well. As I said, between the prep and travel and meetings, it can be a grind. But once the mic is on and the game starts, you remember that this is the best job around and you're one of the lucky few who get to do it for a living.