Watching the 8th annual Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA) All-America Program live on YouTube, Zach Mackey was starting to panic.

Watching the 8th annual Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA) All-America Program live on YouTube, Zach Mackey was starting to panic.

When were they going to read his name?  

Last year, Mackey was an honorable mention in the STAA competition which recognizes college’s best in radio and TV sports broadcasting.

Mackey had made some adjustments to strengthen the highlight reel he submitted, hoping to assure himself a spot in the Top 20 this year.

However, as the list was revealed from 20-to-1, Mackey kept waiting and the list kept getting higher and higher.   

“As it got up to No. 10, I thought, ‘man what did I do wrong,’” Mackey said. “I told my parents beforehand if I was in the Top 15 I would be happy, and I’d be really happy as long as I got into the Top 20.” 

The waiting finally came to an end at No. 6. Mackey was named an All-American by the STAA. 

A University of Iowa junior-to-be, Mackey was the only broadcaster not in his senior year to be on the All-American list, and he was one of only two underclassmen with a spot in the Top 20. 

He became the first Hawkeye to be named an All-American, and first Iowa broadcaster to crack the Top 20.

“It gives you a little bit more respect,” Mackey said. “People who don’t know you, they know the STAA and Jim Nantz Award. It was a really cool thing because in college sports broadcasting you don’t have that many opportunities to showcase yourself.”

The award capped an incredible year, where Mackey’s endless ambition helped him reach a level many broadcasters dream of achieving. 

“It’s something to know you are being recognized for what you are doing,” Mackey said. “The greatest thing about this is that it is being judged by people who are in the industry and are the top of their field.”

With a goal of always gaining experience and getting better, his endless work ethic has put him at the forefront of Iowa sports as he tries to take advantage of every opportunity.

In just one calendar year, Mackey believes he’s worked about 120 events. 

He was on the call for the Iowa Hawkeye’s spring football game, broadcasted an Iowa men’s basketball exhibition game, and continued to share play-by-play TV and radio duties for the Iowa baseball team.

He also continued contributing to the Big Ten Network’s Student U and the Daily Iowan student newscast. 

“It seems like every year new opportunities arrive,” Mackey said. “My goal would be to continue to go up and reach No. 1. It is hard but it seems like somehow it always works itself out.”

Mackey said it was an unbelievable opportunity to call a game at Kinnick Stadium and even got to put in a plug for Geneseo when fullback Lane Akre got on the field.

With Big Ten Network’s Student U, Mackey called an Iowa men’s basketball exhibition game from Carver-Hawkeye Arena with former Hawkeye star player Jess Settles.

“He really helped me through it,” Mackey said. “At that point, that was the biggest basketball broadcast I had done. He helped me walk through things. He would say, ‘Coming out of break let’s do this or talk about this or let’s talk about Adam Woodbury.’ He was really good about that kind of stuff.”

The eventual Division II National Champions, Augustana Sioux Falls made the exhibition game an exciting one, knocking off Iowa on a buzzer beater 76-74. 

In his second year doing play-by-play for the Iowa baseball team, Mackey was able to be more relaxed working both TV and radio broadcasts.  

His work earned him a summer gig calling games for the Chillicothe Mudcats in Missouri.

Mackey lives with a host family and has called games for TV and radio for the Mudcats, a M.I.N.K. Collegiate Baseball League summer team.

Having made inroads into the broadcasting world coupled with earning All-American status for his broadcasting work, Mackey thinks he’ll pursue a career in play-by-play after graduation.

When he’s not broadcasting, Mackey contributes to the Hawkeye football team as a student recruiting assistant.   

While the role takes a lot of his time, Mackey enjoys the process and thinks it’s fun. 

He values being able to see how things operate behind the scenes and has become one of the more veteran members of the assistant group. He has earned the staff’s trust and respect.

Following a trip to the Big 10 Championship game and the Rose Bowl, the recruiting trail remains as high stakes as ever, as the Hawkeyes try to capitalize on the success of 2015. 

“It’s one of those things where the fans are excited and they expect to win just like the players and coaches,” Mackey said. “It does add more eyes and more fans back into the mix, but that just means it will be fun.”