Putting a face to the voice: Students work as color commentators for Eph Sports

Jimmy Li and Sammy Sasaki

It was the last match of a long day for the wrestling team. It was Feb. 8, 2020, and the men were facing off against Wesleyan, their second opponent of a dual meet on the team’s 2020 Senior Night. The Ephs led 18-15 going into the match, but Dylan Millson ’20 had to wrestle up a weight class in the last match- up, a tough task. Millson’s 4-3 decision victory clinched the win for the Ephs, keeping their undefeated NESCAC record alive for another season.

Almost two years later, Matt Freitas ’23, the webcast color commentator for wrestling, recalled the thrill of that moment. “It was just the most exciting thing ever, because winning a wrestling match is always an exciting moment,” Freitas said. “And being able to be a part of that was awesome, especially because it was a sport that I love so much, because I did it all through high school.”

According to Director of Sports Information Dick Quinn, student color commentators help the play-by-play commentators by filling in with notes, statistics, and commentary during webcasts of Eph athletic games. This year, Quinn has hired 21 student color commentators, all of whom are paired with play-by-play commentators from the Northeast Sports Network, an outside multimedia company that provides live coverage of collegiate sports events. “When the color commentator and the play-by-play person are working together, it adds a great deal to the webcast,” Quinn said.

Color commentators have to follow certain rules when providing commentary. Freitas said that he was given a set of guidelines when he first started on how to become a better commentator. “You want the focus of the broadcast to be on the student-athletes,” he said. “Don’t speculate about injury, don’t compare these players to professionals.”

Typically, students commentate on sports that they already know well. Before working as a volleyball color commentator this fall, Lulu Whitmore ’23 played volleyball competitively in high school. “I love volleyball since I played so much in high school, and so I would be at the games anyway,” Whitmore said. “So I decided, ‘Why not?’ If I get paid hourly to share my thoughts, I might as well take the job.”

A similar situation brought Kedar Veeraswarmy ’24, who worked home games for football this year, to the position. “I’ve always been a pretty huge football fan,” he said, “and I usually spend most of my Saturdays in the fall watching football anyways.”

Freitas, who is a member of the men’s lacrosse team, found out about the position through his teammates. “When I first applied, [the color commentators were] a couple of my teammates who were upperclassmen, and they just told me it was a really great job,” Freitas said. “I’ve always enjoyed speaking. I did competitive speech in high school, and I like doing the broadcast.”

In addition to wrestling, Freitas is also the color commentator for men’s soccer and has covered games for men’s and women’s ice hockey and women’s and men’s basketball. While this may seem like a lot to some, Freitas said he enjoys the challenge.

“I’d say the hardest part is trying to keep track of all the different rosters, if anything,” he said. “As you do one sport more often, you get used to all the numbers and you know all the people on the field.” By being familiar with the players’ names and numbers, Freitas is able to react to exciting moments in the games and keep the athletes at the center of attention, he said.

Even if they are already quite familiar with the sports, the color commentators still have to spend time preparing for the events. “I usually had to look up every applicable stat for each team coming in,” Veeraswarmy said. “And sometimes I interviewed Williams players or watched some film of previous games from both teams.”

Whitmore pointed out another challenge that student color commentators must learn to deal with. “I think just being on the record is a little stressful and knowing that everything I said I couldn’t really take back,” she said. “It was live-streamed and parents could listen to what I said about their children playing the sport … My voice is permanently out there.”

Despite its challenges, Whitmore said her job brings her satisfaction. “I think my favorite moment was when one of the players kind of sent me a little ‘Thank you for doing it’ because her mom said that I was doing a good job,” Whitmore said. “That felt really good.”

Another highlight for Whitmore has been being able to meet the people from the Northeast Sports Network. “They would tell their different commentating stories and their different experiences here at Williams,” she said. “So meeting those people and having the opportunity to work with them has been really fun.”

For both family and friends who are unable to attend the games in person, color commentators provide a welcome addition to the experience of streaming Eph games online. “During the soccer season, I watched every away broadcast just because all of my friends were playing and I wanted to show support for them,” Nick Alcock ’25 said.

Alcock appreciated the insights that color commentators added to his viewing experience. “It made it a lot better than just listening to the same [person] the whole time … [The] dialogue between the two made the stream feel more natural and professional, which was wicked cool to see,” he said.

For Freitas, color commentary is meant to do exactly this: engage viewers while spotlighting students excelling on the field or court. “My favorite part about [color commentating] is that I get to highlight what these other student-athletes are doing, because I know how tough the student-athlete grind can be,” he reflected. “Being able to highlight those other people is really, really fun.”