Unless you have a family member playing, or are part of a close-knit community, you may only pay attention to college and high school sports at an arms-length relationship.
But If you had the reason to catch a broadcast on Fox Sports Wisconsin or Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, then you probably have heard Matt Menzl’s voice delivering the play-by-play.
"I caught the bug pretty early, doing play-by-play on cable access while I was in high school," Menzl said as we took the chance to catch up between games at the WIAA state boys soccer championships in Milwaukee.
Earlier this month, Menzl was spearheading the high school broadcast coverage for Fox Sports Wisconsin at Uihlein Soccer Park. We talked about his background, including going to Concordia University in Mequon, where he worked in broadcasting for the sports information department while earning a degree in communications.
"I stayed close to home," the Cedarburg native said. "I was always talking in school, so this seemed fitting."
As a freelance sports broadcaster, Menzl is often tapped to broadcast WIAA state tournament games in soccer, volleyball and other sports. He also does regular season high school games, and for the past couple of years, he’s done the play-by-play for the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay men’s basketball team.
It’s easy to talk shop in the press box. When at an event like the state soccer tournament, it’s time to catch up with counterparts at other outlets you haven’t seen in a while. For me, I get the chance to do the PA announcing during the games and talk about stories in between them. Menzl always helps me out with name pronunciations before I have to read off the starting lineups. During the game, I, and the others in the box, get to listen to him call a game.
As he’s been able to do games like this for multiple years, Menzl is able to tap into an institutional knowledge and offer stats and memories from previous tournaments. The storytelling during the game gives the current event some historic context.
"One year the main field got flooded," Menzl said of a state soccer tournament match at Time Warner Cable Field at Uihlein. "The game got moved to the field behind the press box. We had to scramble to get the cameras into place, and didn’t get everything moved over in time. I ended up calling the game from the monitor."
Menzl shared a story when he was at Concordia, and sportscaster Dennis Krause had an office on campus after leaving WTMJ-TV Ch. 4, and before he was with Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
"When I was there, Krause was the director of gift giving," Menzl said. "He was too kind … I’d visit him in his office every day and talk about calling games. He was always encouraging."
Now, years later, Menzl works with Krause’s SportsChannel’s producers, calling high school football games in northeastern Wisconsin.
I’m always amazed with how large the world is, that in the sports broadcasting network in Wisconsin, the circle is very small. Menzl, for only doing the work since graduating high school in 2004, is already a respected member of the group, whose star is only going to rise.
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