For the sportscaster, there is nothing like calling the action of a hotly contested game. But for the person who has experienced it or even if they never have been behind the mic and want to take a shot at it, SCA can help anyone realize this dream. For Kris Van Cleave, the 1993 camp proved to be more than a week of living a dream, it was the start of living that dream for a lifetime.
by Kris Van Cleave
ABC TV WJLA, Washington, DC
"A Camp Where Dreams Come True..." that was the headline of one of the many newspaper stories written about Sportscaster Camps of America, but its a headline that doesn't tell the whole story.
Back in 1993, I attended my first Sportscaster Camps of America. I was 13 years old and a huge sports fan. I'd realized my goal of playing professional baseball wasn't too likely when I couldn't master hitting a curve ball...so sportscasting seemed like the obvious second choice. I read an article about dreams coming true at Sportscaster Camps of America in Sports Illustrated for kids and decided (with my mother's blessing) I had to be there.
What I didn't know that first day as I checked in at camp was this would be the first real step down a path that would ultimately determine where I'd go to school, be responsible for some of the most important friendships in my life, and launch my career.
Clearly at 13 Bob Costas' job was safe, but for the first time I got the opportunity to do the things I'd only dreamed about doing. Who hasn't sat at home watching the game and started calling the action? I certainly had, but now I was actually announcing a baseball game in the press box of Angel's Stadium, I was calling basketball courtside, and I was anchoring a sportscast--I was making my television debut--all at camp.
My fondness for that first camp comes from being able to experience the things that to me were what life was all about and doing it with a group of campers, young and old, who had the same interests. The best part was getting to learn from the professionals. It was from this group of campers and staff that a series of life long friendships would emerge.
I walked away from that mid-summer adventure full of excitement about the business and counting the minutes until next year when I could come back and do it again. I did. I was a camper for three years, and then started working with the camp all the way through high school and college. It was the relationships with the core group of Sportscaster Camp staffers and alumni that keeps me coming back year after year.
Now 13 years later camp is like a family reunion. It was at SCA that I first got the confidence and encouragement from real life broadcasters to chase my dreams. Encouragement that grew and eventually led to my choice of universities, my major and now to a career as a television news reporter.
For me, when I look back at how I got to where I am there are very few factors that were more important than Sportscaster Camps of America. Where else can you be a broadcaster or a television anchor covering big time sports with no prior experience and have some of the nation's finest sports broadcasters acting as your personal coaches and mentors? Simply put that can only happen at Sportscaster Camp.
Sportscaster Camps of America is "A Camp Where Dreams Come True," and its a camp that opened doors leading me to the where I am today.
I really enjoyed the non-stop learning to environment of the camp. Once you learned about doing basketball play-by-play, you were immediately thrust into calling a game at the Pyramid. It allowed you to get some understanding of the game you were about to call, but then pushed you to try and practically apply what you had just learned. Also, the fact that they were staff at every event who gave you instant feedback was great.
Strong Island Sound
Hey I just wanted to tell you how much the camp helped my skills on the radio!!! When I got back from the camp in the middle of July, I sent my tape from angels game and the UCLA/USC game to a radio station near by, and got offered a play-by-play job for high school football, and college baseball! Dave, Tony, and Eric helped me so much while I was there and I couldn't thank them enough!! Most of all thanks to you and what you are doing for the up and coming SPORTSCASTERS OF AMERICA!! This was one of the best things that could have happened for my career!
"I justed wanted to update you on what has happened to me these past five months. I was offered an intership on the local El Paso cable show Metro Sports, working on the weekly high school game of the week. I also was able to call some innings of the minor league Diablos. All of these opportunities would have never been offered to me, since I am only 13, had I not attended SCA. I will be back in 2006!"
"I would have been coming back to camp once again, but I have been hired as a public relations assistant with the Orange Bowl Committee in Miami. They said I was hired because of my background in TV and Radio. Thanks for all the help the camp gave me last summer."
"I still remember the days of SCA in 1989 and 1993....and how it got me my real start in sports. I have been the sports anchor in Amarillo and Cedar Rapids, and presently doing Texas Tech basketball."
"When people ask me how I got my play-by-play start, I mention attending SCA in 1988. I fondly remember the support and assistance every counselor gave me to build my confidence to move into the field of play-by-play then at the age of 32. I now enter my 11st season with ESPN Regional TV and Big 10 basketball, as well as continuing play-by-plya for the NCAA with Division II sports. I wanted to thank you, some 17 years after the fact, for the opportunity to learn about a career I wanted to pursue and providing the motivation and confidence that leads to success. I know the camp is alive and well today, and I can't imagine how many young people have been influenced by what you have had to offer. Continued success with one of the longest-running acts in show business."
“First and foremost, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend your camp, the unquestioned king of sports broadcasting camps.
For many years, it has been my main aspiration to become a play by play broadcaster in the sports world, yet I had my doubts as to whether or not I had what it takes.
After five days at the camp in Long Beach, I can safely say that not only do I have what it takes to do this job; I have what it takes to succeed and do very well at it. Without Sportscaster Camps of America, my dreams would have remained just that, Dreams. Instead those dreams are now being turned to reality.
Not only did I have the time of my life professionally, and saw the fire only just begin in what I feel will be a long career, but I also met some of the greatest people I know. The camp counselors and staff were beyond helpful, and so many of the fellow campers and I developed friendships that will last for quite some time.
Again Roy, I say thank you.”
Jason Pagliaro – 2004 camp
“I wanted to thank you for the opportunity of experiencing sports broadcasting hands-on through Sportscaster Camps of America. I had a wonderful time with the campers and counselors and thought the guest lectures were inspiring.
The camp most importantly reassured me that this is what I want to do and where I want to be - I want to be a sportscaster!”
Kristen Motz – 2004 camp
“I just wanted to say how much I valued the professionalism and care with which the 20th Anniversary camp was run. When I was there two things really struck me. One, I was not wasting my time at all, whether I had career aspirations in broadcasting or not. Secondly, I didn’t feel like I was under a microscope, but rather felt constantly encouraged to perform at a high level. There was never a feeling of judgment cast down upon me. I was confident that I left camp a better play-by-play announcer then when I arrived.”
John Baldwin – 1999 and 2004 camp
“ I was talking to three Miami University students last night and have gotten them very interested in attending the 2005 Camp. They asked me to pass along their email addresses.
Two of them tried out for Dream Job, and so I told them about the Camp and what an awesome experience it would be for them to attend, as it was for me!”
Dave Allen – 1990 camp
“As you said in the last classroom session that you have to have some luck or know somebody. Well I interviewed for a local high school football job in Louisiana and I got it using the USC vs UCLA football tape that I made at camp. I just wanted to share this update with you. Thanks again for the opportunity that you gave me.”
Drew Valentine – 2004 camp
“I have joined ESPN as a Senior Coordinating Editor in the New Media Group. I’m heading up SportsNation on ESPN.com.”
Marc Appleman – 1991 camp
“I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to live and learn the life of a Sportscaster during your 10th Anniversary camp in Irvine. Having had minimal experience at play by play, your camp has certainly improved my “game” in three areas: my drive to excel, my confidence to excel, and my abilities to excel!
The program lineup and guest speakers added a tremendous learning environment just for the listening and absorbing. The work ethic and environment provided by the right setting not only to learn by listening but to learn by doing. The opportunity to work with proven professionals, and fellow campers, that with a break or two most assuredly will become the next generation of sportscasters, provided my batteries an additional charge! You are commended for your efforts in providing a one of a kind experience!”
Michael St. John – 1995 camp
Senior Broadcast Editor
“On many occasions during my 24 years, various people have encouraged me with the phrase “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. I can honestly say that the only time I felt those words could really apply to me was the afternoon that I left Los Angeles upon the conclusion of the 1991 camp.
I am convinced that I could never adequately thank you for what you have done for me. Suffice it to say that if I advance in the field it will be the result of hard work, and what Roy Firestone called “individual responsibility”, and Sportscaster Camps of America.”
Chad Konecky – 1991 camp
“The efforts put forth by yourself, Bob Miller, your counselors and staff far surpassed anything I might have expected, and the guest speakers were all of exceptional quality. I only wish such a camp had been available when I was younger and more impressionable, and I would not hesitate to recommend the experience to anyone thinking of moving into broadcasting.”
Mark Boyle - 1989 camp
“I would like to thank you for one of the greatest weeks of my life. My experiences at the Sportscaster Camps of America will be ones I will use throughout my times as a broadcaster.
Perhaps the most rewarding experience is to be able to pass on what I learned to our entire sports department. I have recommended the camp to everyone in the department, and hopefully my schedule will allow me to attend SCA again.”
Malcolm Charles – 1991 camp
“I would like to thank you for the wonderful experience I had at Sportscaster Camps of America. I learned a lot and I believe my skills improved also. The camp counselors were great, and they taught me some “ins and outs” that I believe I would not have learned on my own. Everyone was very positive and made me their friend. I would recommend Sportscaster Camps of America to my friends, and I will see you next year at camp!”
Heather Hamilton – 1998 camp
“Having just attended your 1991 camp, I must tell you that I am still pumped up. No doubt about it, those seven days were the most well spent in my life. Being around 150 other people who also are interested in sports broadcasting was a unique and inspiring experience for me. Now I am even more excited than ever about pursuing a career in sports broadcasting.”
Josh Whetzel – 1991 camp