From Minor League Baseball to… Minor League Hockey: Part 1

For those of you who know my college background, it’s not a surprise I’m involved in hockey again. I was lucky enough to broadcast Boston University’s Men’s Ice Hockey Championship a couple years ago. I also covered hockey last season, when I was the beat reporter for Merrimack College on USCHO. I loved working with the Renegades baseball team this past season, and I wanted to stay involved in minor league sports one way or another. Given all the teams in New England, hockey was the perfect choice to keep me busy during the winter, and one that I never really wanted to leave.

If I’ve learned anything from working in minor league sports, it’s that there are many different jobs with a given team. (“Duh.”) What I didn’t realize was how many different ways there are to watch a game, especially when your job is involved.

When it comes to being in the press box at the diamond, most of my time has been spent as a broadcaster. I love calling games as much as anyone else out there, but it’s nice to shake things up every once in a while. A few people at the Renegades taught me that, and I’ve tried to implement that mantra myself. Though I haven’t done so in baseball, I’ve had that opportunity in hockey. In a handful of games with the Providence Bruins, I’ve added charting ice time and stat tracking to my experience. Those tasks may not seem all that exciting, but they’ve given me a much better appreciation for league officials and anyone else who tries to keep up with the game in one way or another.

“Nick, you’re being ridiculous,” you might say. “Of course you can’t chart ice time in baseball (or any sport besides hockey for that matter).” You may have me there, but there are equivalents in other sports. In basketball, there are the officials who record substitutions. In football, there are team employees tracking who is on the field during which plays. In baseball, it’s as simple as having a pitch tracker or an extra eye on the bullpen. The point is, there are forty-eleven team and league employees watching a game, doing forty-twelve jobs in the process, and it takes a keen eye to keep everything in order.

Thanks to what some people may call “brainless” tracking of players coming off of and going on the bench, I got a better feel for the tempo of a hockey game. It’s easier to understand why certain defensemen are paired together, or why a player will sit on a different end of the bench depending on his position. Through the time I’ve spent recording stats, I’ve gotten a better understanding of where certain players will be on the ice depending on the situation. (For the record, I’ve also learned how useful it is to have someone working with you to make sure everything’s backed up.)

There are plenty of things to learn from the plethora of microscopes people view the game from. (“Wow Nick. Big words this late at night? Really?”) I’m back in the studious mindset I had during my time in college. Who would have thought watching more sports would make me more of a nerd?

What jobs have you held in sports that involved actively watching the game? Do you feel like you learned anything from them when you watched as a fan (or in another role)? Let me know with a comment.

If you liked this post, check out the other, “From Minor League Baseball to… Minor League Hockey” posts I’ve written so far:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

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