For Geneseo’s Zach Mackey, opportunities to be the voice of several Geneseo athletic teams and to call the games for those at home began as a way to help out, and has now turned into a passion for the GHS senior.
Mackey can be heard during the school year announcing at many events from basketball to baseball, and also on the TV and radio on TV50, MC22 and WGRG.
“I always loved being at sporting events, and I started more as a PA announcer,” he said. “Coach Bob Pettit needed someone one night for a basketball game on TV50 and, ever since then, I was hooked.”
Over the last couple of years, Mackey has added to his broadcasting and announcing resume, and has become a member of the National Sportscaster and Sportswriter Association (NSSA).
This year, Mackey was in the running for the Bob Costas High School Play-by-Play Broadcaster of the Year Award and came in second.
“I was actually surprised I was a finalist and once I found out I got second I was pretty excited,” he said. “I sent in clips from MC22, TV50 and radio.”
Mackey also is trying to learn as much as he can through his experiences and from the pros.
In May, Mackey had the opportunity to meet with Orel Hershiser, John Kruk and Dan Shulman from ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” prior to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game in Chicago.
“Once I became a member of the NSSA I had the directory, so I e-mailed Dan Shulman and told him what I was doing,” said Mackey. “He responded and invited us to a game, and about 30 minutes before game time, we got to go meet the guys.
“It was very cool to be able to see that they are normal guys. Before they go live they are just sitting around joking. They were all really nice guys and are definitely at the top of their game. It was neat to see the top-level guys and how they prepare to go in front of a national audience.”
Mackey said it was interesting to see how it all comes together behind the scenes.
“This was one of the ‘yes’ responses,” he said. “I have e-mailed guys and gotten no response. For them to be able to do that was very nice and to open up the doors to a major broadcast was neat. I was definitely surprised.”
Mackey also attended a Chicago Cubs game last summer and met with the club’s PA announcer Andy Belleson and broadcaster Len Kasper. He also met with Gary Dolphin for a University of Iowa football game and went to a Chicago Bears game and met with the PA announcer.
Page 2 of 2 - “I definitely want to keep in contact with these guys who are at the top of their game and be able to call back on them,” he said. “They all have been able to talk about the business and let a young kid come and see what it is like to be up there. I am sure a lot wouldn’t do that, so I thank them for doing that.”
Even though Mackey is only a senior in high school and still a few years away from looking for a job, he decided to contact Shulman as a way to get his foot in the door and make contacts in a highly competitive industry.
“A lot of people say it is all in who you know, and I am trying to build different contacts for down the line,” he said. “It also is about gaining experience because if I want to be there some day at that level, I need to know what steps I have to take. You never know where you will end up so I am just soaking it in.
“I am always looking for different things about broadcasting, and a lot of guys get picked right out of college so you almost have to be ahead of the game.”
After meeting with some of the pros, some tips Shulman gave Mackey were to never get complacent, never be satisfied with where you are at, and practice.
“Mr. (Keith) Kennett (TV50) has been great about giving me opportunities, and this school year I will be taking over Green Zone Sports at the high school,” said Mackey. He also will be doing broadcasting work for ihigh.com of Geneseo games not broadcasted on TV50.
Mackey plans to get more into the play-by-play side of broadcasting. His dream job would be with a major network and broadcast to a national audience.
“I definitely know what I want, and I am working to get there,” said Mackey. “Every time I broadcast, I look at it as a time to get better. It really excites me that I know what I want to do and I am looking ahead to where I need to go next.”