Future speaks loudly to voice of Gilman

High schools: As he calls the action for the Greyhounds over the Internet, Brett Hollander, 17, has visions of a bigger game.

High Schools

May 10, 2002|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

The Gilman-Landon boys lacrosse game had just ended on Tuesday, and Brett Hollander finally exhaled.

His hair, which had been gelled tightly into place an hour and a half before, was disheveled. The knot on his red tie was nearly undone, and two patches of dirt marred his light-colored pants.

"I feel like I went through a war," Hollander said.

A sportscasting version, anyway.

Hollander, a junior at Gilman, is the voice of the Greyhounds, believed to be the only high school team in the area to broadcast its home games on the Internet. He will be live again today at 3:45 p.m., calling the action as Gilman faces off against archrival McDonogh.

It's not that Tuesday's game was any more eventful than any of the other games that Hollander and classmate Scott Kidder, who directs the technical aspects, have collaborated on this season.

There was the challenge of trying to stoke interest in a game that Landon ran away with, 16-7, and the responsibility to stay positive about Gilman, while still giving the Bears their due.

With no color commentator, Hollander was a one-man show, pausing only a handful of times during the 1-hour, 45-minute broadcast for seven-second station breaks. He stood throughout the game and was constantly gesticulating as he called the action. His voice was loudest when he exclaimed, "Bull's eye!" for a Gilman goal.

And, finally, there were some technical difficulties that shut things down for about 1 1/2 minutes.

That all made for one tired 17-year-old.

"When you do live stuff, that's the name of the game," Hollander said. "You need to find a way to get it back together in a hurry, and that's the thrill of it."

Hollander, a fanatical Baltimore sports booster, said he has wanted to be a sports announcer ever since he realized he would never make it as a professional baseball player. That epiphany came when he was 9.

He inquired about the prospects of calling Greyhounds games on the school's radio station when he was still a seventh-grader, but the opportunity didn't present itself until this winter.

Hollander started taping play-by-play of Gilman basketball games and the Gilman Radio Club would replay it over the cafeteria's loudspeaker the next day. Only audible on certain parts of the campus, the radio station, broadcast at a frequency of 94.3 FM, got positive feedback, and members of the club, especially Hollander and Kidder, began dreaming of bigger things.

"It is a risk to do something like this, but Scott and Brett have done a wonderful job," said John Schmick, the head of the Gilman Upper School. "They have been tremendously responsible in every step and professional in every sense of the word."

The Radio Club already had the equipment in place and raised money through advertising and donations to pay for the services of On Air Productions, a local e-marketing and Internet streaming company that puts the live broadcasts on Gilman's Web site, www.gilman.edu. That costs about $300 per game.

Kidder, the general manager of the radio station, who acknowledges having no interest in sports, wears a headset and sits to Hollander's left. He cues up commercials and mans the audio board and the telephone coupler, the two pieces of equipment that transmit the sound and send it over a phone line to the On Air Productions studio.

"The games are very stressful because it's a lot of responsibility," said Kidder, a 17-year-old Towson resident. "People just don't understand it's just two people doing this."

The feedback from Gilman alumni, players and parents has been positive. Though no numbers are available for the number of listeners for the live broadcasts, On Air Productions' data showed that the three games broadcast in April combined for more than 1,000 hits since they were archived. All of the broadcasts can be heard by going on www.gilman.edu.

"Just to hear him talking and getting attention for us, it's really incredible," said junior attackman Luke Wilson, who said his brother, who lives in San Francisco, goes online to listen to the games.

Said Gilman coach Dave Allan, whose team is 7-7: "He just seized the opportunity and has done a wonderful job. I just wish we would give him something better to talk about."

Hollander has never needed an excuse to talk, which is one of the reasons he has always wanted to be a broadcaster.

"What's better than getting paid to watch baseball games, paid to watch football games?" said Hollander, who has already decided on a career in broadcasting and will focus his college search on schools with good journalism departments. "There couldn't be a better marriage for me than broadcasting. It is perfect."

Hollander has grown up watching games with the audio muted, doing his own play-by-play into a tape recorder. Piles of tapes, each neatly labeled, line the desk in his room in his family's Guilford home.

He used to mimic former Orioles announcer Jon Miller and Johnny Holliday, who broadcasts University of Maryland football and basketball, but has since tried to develop his own style, and he has had to it with lacrosse, a sport that until recently was given little radio or television exposure. Hollander plans to announce Gilman football games over the Internet this fall.

"People say that I'm a rookie at this, but the fact of the matter is I'm not," he said. "This has always been a hobby for me."

"Brett takes this incredibly seriously," Kidder said. "Some people treat this like a hobby. Brett attacks it as a profession."

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