After having announced a number of youth and adult national championships for USA Volleyball, I was thrilled to receive the invitation to work the 2017 NORCECA (North American and Caribbean) men’s continental volleyball championship in Colorado Springs, CO from Sept. 26-Oct. 1. The tournament was also a qualifier for the 2018 FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) World Championship.
I worked on the secondary court, as longtime USA national team announcer Rob Espero worked the primary court. In addition to the host team, the other countries represented were Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Trinidad & Tobago. Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Maria, a couple of powerful teams in Cuba and Puerto Rico were unable to attend.
For the most part, the actual announcing of the matches was just like any other. It was the pre-match protocol that was markedly different. First of all, my supervisor asked if I had access to all the national anthems. That was one thing that caught me off guard. Of course, all good P.A. announcers have a copy of the national anthem with them at all times, but I didn’t think of having ten of them!
Everything was extremely precise regarding timing. An official from the tournament committee stood behind me to make sure I was following their protocol. Every group that was introduced in the pre-match ceremony had their own background theme music, which I was responsible for playing. The ball boys and girls, referees, starters, and coaches all were announced at specific times without deviation. Above all else, I had to make sure that I completed my announcements so that the match started exactly on time prescribed by the head of the committee. So, in addition to making sure that I pronounced foreign names correctly, I only had a set amount of time to complete my task with an official watching every move I made!
Once the match actually began, my usual style of announcing kills, aces, and blocks was well-received. I was responsible for playing music during time-outs and between sets. For the fans that were there from some of these countries, they seemed to enjoy the mostly-American music, but some of the foreign referees ended up being my biggest fans. A referee from Barbados must have thought I was a D.J. and requested a number of songs he wanted to hear during the pre-match warmups.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience. I made some connections internationally, witnessed some incredible volleyball, and now have a tremendous experience to draw from for future P.A. announcing positions. I am extremely grateful to USA Volleyball for allowing me the opportunity to work such a prestigious tournament.