When Eric Vandefifer grabbed the microphone for the first time, the setting was humble enough.
A football game at Kuehn-Haven Middle School in Montrose, Michigan. He was not even
broadcasting from the booth, but acting in the role of public address announcer, doing his best
Terry Braverman (PA announcer, Detroit Lions) impression at a young age. This caught the ears
of one of his teachers, who ran a club devoted to broadcasting.
“Our digital media teacher at Montrose heard me doing public address because they were
broadcasting that game. He just asked if I wanted to join the club.”
Eric’s simple answer?
“I said ‘sure,’ and it just took off from there.”
One once said, “the rest is history,” and Eric’s story certainly applies.
Fast forward to 2017. Vandefifer, now a junior at Montrose High School, was nationally
recognized last month for his broadcasting work by the National Federation of High Schools as
Student Sportscaster of the Year, one in a long line of honors ever since that day giving updates
on ball placements, first downs, and touchdowns. Of the hardware he’s accumulated so far, he
has a good idea on which means most to him.
“I would say winning the national federation award. I had won awards at a state and local level,
but to be recognized nationally, that was pretty cool.”
This journey did not go without its inspirations, however, as Eric looks to his late grandfather
Tony as the first person that comes to mind when discussing his journey into the world of sports
“He was a big advocate of high school sports who did a lot for the community and the high
school here at Montrose. He did football stats for 40 years and would do pretty much anything
for any coach. He was one of the big inspirations and who influenced me into my love for sports,
especially at the high school level.”
For Montrose itself, Eric’s award capped a memorable end to April for the high school, as the
school’s student broadcast program was named “Program of the Year” by the Michigan High
School Athletic Association for the fourth year in a row. James Kitts, the coordinator of the
program, finished as a finalist for “Teacher of the Year.”
All the honors bode well for Vandefifer in his pursuit of his ultimate goal to work at ESPN.
However, outside of broadcasting, Eric carries a humbler passion that breeds a spiritual path.