Clark High School, Cuero High School, St. Mary’s University Rattlers, Texas Sports Radio Network, ESPN Radio, UTSA football, and CW35
While I was in High School, I was the manager of the Clark High School Varsity basketball team. I filmed all the Varsity games and kept stats and operated the scoreboard at the Freshman and Junior Varsity games.
I started as the radio statistician for the Cuero High School Gobblers shortly after I graduated from Clark High School in 1995. It was my friend, Marc Hoenig’s, first sports broadcasting job. I was paid very little but I was happy to lend my hand and numbers to Marc.
Marc was also moonlighting as a High School football broadcaster and I tagged along as his statistician. I must admit, that I didn’t know anything at the time about football stats, but I learned on the job and since then, I have become one of the best High School football statisticians and I have been doing it for almost 20 years.
I didn’t apply for the job with Marc, he is actually a close friend of my family and knew what I did for the Clark basketball team. After the Cuero gig ended for us, I followed Marc as his statistician for the St. Mary’s University Rattlers for 2 years. A few Clark players were on those Rattler’s teams.
In 1997, I was officially an employee of The Texas Sports Radio Network as a statistician for High School football games.
High School football is HUGE in the state of Texas. Going to a High School football game in the state of Texas must be on everybody’s bucket list. It is an amazing experience; you have the sounds, the sights, the smells, the fans, the bands, the cheerleaders and a football game being played–where, at any given moment, something will happen that you will remember for the rest of your life. In some towns across the state of Texas, entire communities shut down on Friday night so they can go to the football game. Local establishments change their signs to wish their teams good luck and they will also have football mementos on display. To this day, I still get goosebumps at football games, especially when I see the stadium lights, hear the band jamming on the drums or hear the National Anthem.
San Antonio even has some of the best stadiums in the state and probably in the USA. I know if colleges and universities saw some of them they’d be jealous.
The San Antonio Independent School District has Alamo stadium, which was completed in 1940. In 2012 and 2013 the stadium got a much needed facelift and I photographed those renovations from start to finish. Those photographs were featured on TV.
I also photographed the renovation of Lehnhoff stadium in the Schertz Cibolo Universal City Independent School District in 2015, home of the Steele Knights and the Clemens Buffaloes. In 2016, I got new construction pictures of the Northside ISD gymnasium.
In 2001, I worked for ESPN Radio at the Alamo Bowl game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The quarterback for Texas Tech was Kliff Kingsbury, whom I saw play at New Braunfels High School. Today, Kliff is the Head Coach at Texas Tech. This gig just fell into my lap as the person who was supposed to do stats was busy doing something else at that game and I was next in line. I was recommended by somebody I knew, Richard Wiggins.
I read a press release in 2009 from the San Antonio Express News that KMYS was going to be broadcasting Thursday night High School football games on television. The Texas Sports Radio Network, at that time, didn’t broadcast most of the Thursday games, thus, I was open for a new opportunity and I knew just what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the TV statistician. Even though I had made a lot of football contacts over the years, I didn’t know anybody at the station or know anyone who knew someone at the station.
How should I contact the station? Email, phone call, a letter, or just drop in? I chose to mail a letter and resume to the General Manager and the Director of Sales outlining my years of experience as a radio statistician for the Texas Sports Radio Network. Yes, folks, I typed up some words along with my resume, printed it, folded it, placed it an envelope and licked the envelope to seal it. Then I had to drive to a post office to get a stamp.
The Director of Sales, Dean Radla, forwarded my letter and resume to the Director of Operations, David Ostmo. I didn’t know it at the time, but Dean worked for the Texas Sports Radio Network. Dave Ostmo was going to be the producer for the Thursday Night Lights football games.
When I spoke to Dave, he told me he was impressed with my background. Well, who wouldn’t be? We talked about high school football in general and during our conversation, he offered me the job! I was super excited and accepted immediately. That was the easiest job interview I have ever had. The first call I made was to my parents to give them the great news!
There is a camera in the TV booth and I am aware when it is on. Don’t laugh, but I always bump into the camera and temporary lights; sometimes we work in very tight corners. All the stats I provide enhances the presentation which makes it sound and look great. I even have stat freedom…by that, I mean, if I see a trend or a stat that pops out to me, I tell the graphics person in the truck and they have the capability to create a graphic. The cool thing about doing TV is I feel like a “rock star.” Everything is setup and ready to go; unlike Texas Sports Radio Network. I just put on my headset and make sure I can be heard in the truck. Then, I am ready to crunch numbers for the broadcasters and the television viewers. And when the game is over, I get to leave, no dis-assembly of the equipment. Pretty cool, heh?
So, on Thursday’s, I was doing TV stats and on Friday’s and Saturday’s, I was doing stats for the Texas Sports Radio Network; a typical Friday would be with the Converse Judson Rockets. Oh, I also had a full-time job to deal with. It was busy, but loved it. And, I always had January thru August to recover.
Let me take you back to my High School days for a moment; it is relevant. One of the courses I took at Clark was a journalism class and the teacher, Beverly Hoag, made quite an impression on me and encouraged me to write. I don’t know why I stopped writing after college; probably just got busy working and working. I jumped on the blog bandwagon and created one in April of 2011. Besides getting married and having a baby, that was by far one of the best decisions I have ever made.
When high school football started in August of 2011, I wrote about all the High School games I worked as a statistician. That is when I really fell in love with writing and wanted to write all the time. I thoroughly enjoyed crafting each high school football article.
The University of Texas at San Antonio started a football program in 2011 and for the 2012 season, I was the statistician for the Spanish radio broadcasting team. This job, I got because I knew one of the broadcasters, Ed Suarez, from the English broadcasting team. I wasn’t paid anything, but I did get free food. Plus, it gave me a chance to be a part of a collegiate athletic program, which was awesome. I got to see a lot of local High School football players play college ball.
The Head Coach for the St. Anthony Yellow Jacket basketball team, Kevin Smisek, read one of my football articles in 2012 and contacted me on Twitter in July of 2013 asking if I would be interested in writing basketball articles for his team. My initial reply to Coach Smisek was, “I am not planning on doing a hoops blog.” Football season was just a month away from starting and I knew that would take over my BLOG for 4 months. Two days later; after my brain had time to think, I told Coach Smisek, “Let me get thru football season and then I will think of doing a hoops blog.”
I made up my mind to write about the St. Anthony Yellow Jackets basketball team in December of 2013; while I was on vacation and unplugged from the world. I attended St. Anthony games in 2013, 2014, and 2016 and I really enjoyed being a part of the family. In 2016, the Yellow Jackets lost in the TAPPS State Championship.
When the 2014 football season ended, I made yet another one of my best decisions and that was to step away from the Texas Sports Radio Network; a job I held since 1997 and besides the boss, I had the longest tenure in the company. They tried to talk me out of it, but my mind was set on becoming a free-lance High School football sports writer and starting in April of 2015, my High School football articles were published on www.texashsfootball.com, www.sasports.com, www.texasredzonereport.com, and www.thestatmanspeaks.com.
In October of 2015, my wife and I announced to the world that we are expecting a baby boy on May 8th. Obviously, since I love writing, I wanted to share my thoughts on being a first time daddy so I did just that and you can read it thedadspeaks.com. Nikolai was born on May 2nd.
In February of 2016, I decided it was time for me to stop writing for other people and write for myself. Basically, www.thestatmanspeaks.com got rebranded to focus primarily on sports — especially High School football, which meant, I had to remove everything that was non-sports related.
On July 7th of 2016, I was approached by St. Anthony Catholic High School to cover the football team for the 2016 season under Head Coach Kevin Smisek, that is same person who was the basketball coach. I had initially said yes, but after having some to think about everything, I changed my mind because I wanted to spend that time with my wife and son. So, for the 2016 football season I will only be working Thursday TV games.
With just 6 days left until the Thursday games started in 2016, the producer from Thursday Night Lights sent me a very harsh email which made me feel extremely disrespected and not wanted. To make a long story short and not so sweet for me, I decided to end my 7 years as the statistician for TNL and retire. Yes, I am disappointed by the way it ended, but it opened up a whole new chapter in my life. I had an awesome 7 years with the TV people and will never forget it. I want to thank Ernie Zuniga, Dean Radla, Don Harris, Chuck Miketinak, Chris Kotfas, and David Ostmo from News 4 WOAI and KABB Fox 29.
With Thursday games out of the picture, I turned back to the great folks at St. Anthony and they welcomed me back with open arms. I knew I wouldn’t have to take the season off; I actually considered that. I ended up covering 6 St. Anthony football games during the 2016 season and it was very nice having extra time throughout the season to spend with my family. I was expecting to back on board with the football team for the 2017 season, but there were several changes in the leadership and I wasn’t a priority. I know they wanted me back and I am very grateful for the opportunity they gave me in 2016. I am not saying goodbye to them because one of the teams I am planning on covering in 2017 will definitely be St. Anthony.
So, besides St. Anthony in 2017; which I covered twice, I also decided to cover some schools that I have been eying for a long time like Wimberly, Blanco, Canyon Lake, and Cornerstone, who had a new stadium and campus. It kind of felt like I was writing for the little guy.
Since the birth of my son, Niko, in May of 2016, I haven’t been excited as I normally would be for high school football and I have contemplated stepping away from being a freelance sports writer and photographer. Well, it became a reality in July of 2018 as I won’t be on the sidelines or the press-box. I will be at home with my family. High school football will always have a place in my heart and I am thankful to everybody I have worked with and met throughout my 20 plus years.
Don’t worry, I am not completely giving up on The Statman Speaks; I have some book ideas in mind and will work on those.