DSBA Member Nationally Recognized as High School Sportscaster of the Year

    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.
    “The last few years I’ve gotten pretty involved in my church. I’ve also thought of going into
    ministry and becoming a pastor. I haven’t really determined if that’s the kind of path I want to go
    down or not, but I still [have] a couple years.”
    The amount of time he has also relates to education, as he remains undecided on where he would
    like to pursue his passion in terms of university choice. He is not too worried about his decision,
    “There’s a bunch of colleges in the state that have programs. It doesn’t necessarily matter where
    you go, you get the education.”
    Eric credits the Student Broadcast Foundation and Executive Director Thom Lengyel on the
    importance of opportunities to work and practice at the craft of broadcasting at an early age.
    “[Mr. Lengyel] has contacts and lets you do a lot [of work] throughout [the state]. Whether it be
    going to Comerica Park, the Breslin Center, or Ford Field calling games from those spots, it
    gives you a lot of good experience to get to see the other stadiums and even just to get more
    practice in calling games.”
    As a parting message for those looking to get involved in the ever-changing industry of
    broadcasting at all levels due to social media and technological advancements, Vandefifer had
    three simple but true words that would make Allen Iverson grimace.
    “Practice, practice practice.”
    From a fellow member, I would like to offer my congratulations to Mr. Vandefifer and his bright
    future ahead, no matter which path he chooses.
    Griffin Schroeder
    DSBA Member
    Hockey Associate Editor, Last Word On Sports
    Northwood University, Class of 2019
    Montrose Program Information from Second Half Sports contributed to this article.