Stepping Up to the Plate: Undergraduates Continue Campus Sports Commentating Legacy
Charles Carbonetto ’22 was in elementary school when he found his calling. After the death of American sportscaster Harry Kalas, Carbonetto, a communication graduate, became fascinated with sports commentating.
“I was struck by the outpouring of tributes to Kalas when he passed,” he said. “I saw just how much a sportscaster can mean to people and how people can form such a strong connection with them through their association with rooting for the sports teams they love.”
At age 10, Carbonetto recorded a sports talk show with his brother and honed his sports commentating skills by recording voiceovers on YouTube videos. These skills would serve him well when he applied to be one of two student broadcast assistants for DeSales during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Carbonetto (pictured above, right) and Max Oswald ’22 (pictured above, left) carried on the sports commentating legacy of the first undergraduate play-by-play announcer, Noah Sparandeo ’20, a sport management graduate. According to Pat Jacoby ’13, athletics multimedia coordinator, Sparandeo offered numerous ideas for broadcasting improvements and even donated equipment to the University.
Like Carbonetto, Oswald developed an interest in sports commentating at a young age, when he’d practice announcing for games on TV.
After transferring from Susquehanna University, which had dozens of commentators, Oswald, a communication graduate in the sports track with a minor in sport management and theology, begged Jacoby to let him announce athletic games. At the time, only Sparandeo and freelancers were doing the commentary. In 2019, when one of them couldn’t make it to a women’s basketball game, Oswald stepped up to the plate. His tenacity not only earned him his first stint on-air, but paved the way for Carbonetto to engage in sports commentating at DeSales.
“It was important to me that communication students have opportunities like this on campus. This experience has put me ahead of the curve and helped me to become even more social and confident in myself. Sports commentating is also a great way to make connections in the sports community.”
One of these community connections includes Mark Simon, a former researcher and writer for ESPN. Simon is one of the freelancers DeSales hires to announce basketball games and has acted as a mentor for students.
“There aren’t many students who can say they have worked alongside former ESPN employees during their undergraduate years,” said Oswald. “Working with Mark, I gained firsthand advice and knowledge about the commentating industry that most other communication students do not have access to.”
According to Jacoby, the opportunity to engage in play-by-play announcing is available to all DeSales students who can demonstrate they have the experience, dedication, enthusiasm, professionalism, and availability to do the job well. He notes that Carbonetto and Oswald both made sacrifices to excel as commentators and possessed a passion for it that can’t be taught.
“I hope that the consistency Charlie and Max built onto the foundation Noah put in place will be a catalyst to getting the attention of others around campus who might be interested in applying to the job in future years,” said Jacoby.
For students who are interested in pursuing sports announcing and possess the necessary qualifications, Oswald offers this advice: “Take risks. If I did not take the risk of asking to commentate, this opportunity wouldn’t have been possible.”