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My history, play-by-play

Xs and Arrows

The much-anticipated high school sport season is upon us after 22 months of doubt, fear, scrutiny and some controversial decisions that kept many teams from participating amidst COVID-19. Lights are back on Friday nights, gyms are busy with volleyball and runners, tennis players and golfers are sharpening their skills for their schedules, as well.

Some might think I am some type of glory-days fiend due to the amount of time I spend covering, promoting and fundraising for our local teams. If most knew the truth about my modest playing career that argument would go right out the window, not much glory weaved in, that's for sure.

But I have a long history, particularly with high school football, not only the aforementioned less-than stellar personal career, but the professional version that has spanned over a decade. I was given the opportunity as a young, just out-of-college announcer to be the play-by-play voice for the high school football game of the week broadcast on Bakersfield radio from 2003-2010. Those eight seasons were a blast; sometimes we selected some great games to call, sometimes we were part of blowouts, but at the end of the day I got to see a ton of action from a variety of schools in Kern County.

Those games, especially in my inaugural season, laid the foundation for the rest of my broadcasting career. You want to talk about a one-man show, technically there were two of us but as the only employee of the radio station it was my job to not only be the play-by-play voice, but also set up the equipment. Back in those days it wasn't a simple Wi-Fi signal. I had to lug UHF antennas and a corresponding broadcast unit that put off more power than the flux capacitor on the DeLorean to each school every Friday night.

Did that build a little character? Absolutely. It also ensured I had ownership in the broadcast, everything from what went out over the air to the equipment setup itself. I certainly wasn't high-priced talent who rolled in, did a few hours of work and went home while others did the dirty work; for all intents and purposes I was the dirty work.

There was also tear-down and return of all that stuff back to the radio station each night. So, no matter how late it was I had to load up the station van and drive across Bakersfield, so my night didn't end until the gear was safely stowed. During one of my seasons, we got stuck in a traffic jam leaving Liberty High School in Bakersfield. Since we were in a news van my color-commentator poked his head out the passenger window and started yelling "breaking news, we need to get by!" It actually worked as cars pulled over so we could get to our "breaking news." The only thing breaking that evening was the electrical system of that van; we stalled it out in the intersection of Stockdale Hwy. and California Ave., but the second we turned off the stereo and any other electronics, it limped back to the station by a radio miracle.

Those times, that sport was so important in my career, it helped me connect with a lot of people and drove home the importance of high school football in so many people's lives. Years later when I worked at CSUB and my autumn evenings were full of soccer games it just didn't seem right not covering the pigskin. Fortunately, my current career choices allow me to return to that great Friday night feeling again and, better yet, right here in my hometown, for my team.

So, no, my insistence on covering these games, talking about these kids and driving hundreds of miles a season to see our Warriors play isn't some reach back in time for moments I can hardly remember. It's a passion that in part comes from the snaps personally I took and supplemented by the gratitude I have for a game that defined a big part of who I am as a professional, and the lessons it has taught me as a adult.

I owe something to this game, and I don't plan on leaving this world until that debt is paid. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy paying it back.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected]. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.