Championship call

Dr. Ron Koperski (left) and Dean Jeffrey Huberman (right) meet with Charley Steiner '71 (center), voice of the Dodgers, in the Global Communications Center.

Additional images

May 17, 2010

Bradley’s reputation as a national forensic powerhouse, coupled with its strong tradition of men’s basketball and a new sports communication major, has produced a winning combination for the University.

Bradley was the official sponsor of the sports play-by-play competition at last week’s high school National Individual Events Tournament of Champions in Fullerton, Calif. The sponsorship allowed Bradley to promote its sports communication major and attract future forensic students.

High school students who competed in the sports broadcasting event were judged on their ability to call a Bradley men’s basketball game. Dr. Jeffrey Huberman, dean of the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, presented the Bradley trophy to the winner and also made a presentation about Bradley’s sports communication major.

“It was a great event and a great recruiting opportunity,” Huberman said.

The event represents the brainchild of Huberman and Bradley alumnus Sal Tinajero, a national award-winning high school teacher and championship speech coach in Fullerton, Calif. Tinajero returned to Bradley in fall 2008 to receive an Outstanding Young Graduate award.

He met with President Joanne Glasser and Huberman to talk about the sports communication program and the speech team. Through that initial discussion, and with the help of communications professor and department chair Dr. Paul Gullifor, Bradley speech coach Dan Smith and Bradley basketball play-by-play announcer Dave Snell, the high school sports play-by-play event was created.

Contestants watch a sporting event, usually an excerpt of a Bradley basketball game, and call the game as if they were doing a radio broadcast. Judges watch the same broadcast and rate students based on their organization, accuracy and delivery. Prior to viewing the event, contestants are given basic information about players, players’ numbers and statistics.

“I think they find out it’s not nearly as easy as it looks,” Gullifor said. “When you listen to it on the radio or TV, you think, ‘I could do that.’ But it’s very difficult and very challenging.”

Tinajero took the idea back to California, where it met with great reception, and Bradley incorporated the event into its George Armstrong Heart of Illinois Invitational for high school students. Now it’s an official event in the national tournament.

“It not only turned into a great competitive event, but also a very popular tournament event in a very short time,” Huberman said.

The event highlights Bradley’s sports communication major, which was introduced in fall 2009. The program draws on Bradley’s tradition of excellence in NCAA athletics and in the sports broadcasting field, having produced such legendary announcers as Jack Brickhouse, Chick Hearn, Andy Masur, Ralph Lawler, Dave Snell and Charley Steiner, among others. Enrollment in the program continues to grow, Huberman said, and will increase further with Bradley’s sponsorship of the national speech event.

“There is a direct connection between our sports communication program, our speech team, Sal Tinajero and the fact that our enrollment from the West Coast, especially California, is way up for next year,” he said.

The event helps students associate Bradley with a top-quality forensic team and sports communication program, Gullifor said.

“You get students to think in terms of Bradley and sports communication together,” he said. “I think it sends a signal to everyone in high school speech out there that Bradley is very serious about speech as a competition and very serious about recruiting good students and good students from different places across the country.”