On the (B)rink of Stardom: An Interview with Hockey Announcers Hallie Balcomb and Kelly Yardley

Hallie Balcomb and Kelly Yardley, both seniors, have started their job as hockey announcers just this season. “I heard about this job through the captains of the club hockey team, Chris Debrase, Sean Thomas and Ty Silvey. We have attended hockey games since freshmen year” says Hallie. Balcomb also currently works at the bookstore, the Math Stats & Workshop and for Georgette Dumais, the Administrative Assistant for the Foreign Languages Department, while Kelly is the SEO office coordinator.

Since Hallie and Helly both enjoy watching sporting events and supporting the hockey team, they saw the hockey announcement job as great opportunity to invest more time in hockey games while also getting paid. The application process involved contacting the captains, who in turn contacted Sue Harriman, the Assistant Athletic Director and overseer of club hockey. “We then attended a training session to familiarize ourselves with the sound equipment and scoreboard,” says Kelly.

An average game day begins with Balcomb and Yardley arriving 30 minutes prior to warm up time for the players. They begin by overlooking both rosters, introducing themselves to the referees and prepare their starting lineups. “Once the plays have completed their warm ups, we welcome the spectators to the arena, announce the starting lineups and introduce the National Anthem. When we are lucky, senior Aisling Ryan from the Crosstones performs for us,” says Balcomb, “Then, the real work begins.” Both Hallie and Kelly operate the scoreboard, record penalties, goals, assists and their respective times. They also record the information that the referees relay to them. “Unfortunately for us, we have never played hockey, so it is quite a task to interpret these signs,” says Yardley. However, when I went down to the rink to watch them work the game, they seemed to know exactly what they were doing.. At intermissions, the girls move the goals out of the way to assist the Zamboni operator. For their timesheets, they record 3 hours for each game, since they arrive 30 minutes beforehand and a typical game lasts 2.5 hours.

When asked if they had any funny stories about their job, Hallie responds that “At our first game, we were promised beforehand that the referees would come to the glass and explain to us the penalty and duration to record and place on the scoreboard. Since the refs have only a limited amount of time themselves, one ref instead just skated over and made an X with his arms and then promptly skated away. All three of us in the score box, our superior had never worked a hockey game either, had no idea what they stood for. So we just put up the typical penalty time. We couldn’t help but laugh as the ref continued to make symbols at us, we only later could ask what meant.”

Hallie’s favorite part of the job is getting to watch the game from ice level. “It seems like a totally different game than from the stands. All the checking seems even more painful. The part of hockey I enjoy is how quickly the momentum can change and getting to see that from the ice level is really fun,” Hallie remarks, “The team works incredibly hard and the best place to see that is from the scorer’s box.”

Kelly’s favorite part of the job is selecting the appropriate music for an important moment during the game (the warm-up, intermissions, time-outs, when a goal is scored, when Bates wins, etc.). “Each moment demands a particular song, and it is fun to try to match the moment with the response you’re seeking from the crowd and from the Bates players. As controller of the music, you want the players and audience to feel energized and pumped up for the moment in the game,” says Yardley.

Although they have only started their jobs as announcers, Hallie and Kelly have already managed to gain some skills from the job.
Hallie has found it has helped her hone her skills in public speaking and reaction time. Since Hallie plans on going into teaching, she knows public speaking is an important talent to foster. “Additionally, the ability to stay calm in stressful situations will serve me well in the future. The refs trust you to have the scoreboard in order and do not wait to check to see if it is correct. Therefore, it is up to you to do your job correctly.”

Kelly has found that her hockey announcer job has helped enhance her multitasking skills. “Controlling the scoreboard, running the clock, announcing goals, and keeping the book demands a sophisticated level of focus. I’ve learned that having an organized, focused co-worker (Hallie) makes the job much easier,” Kelly says, “ I think this discovery will translate into my future career because being compatible and finding rhythm with a co-worker is crucial to achieve work-effectiveness/efficiency.”

Through their jobs, Hallie and Kelly have learned how much fun they can have with a friend no matter what they’re doing. “Even though the first couple of games were incredibly stressful, we could laugh about it along the way and still do our jobs,” says Hallie. Kelly has also learned that their “organizational skills can be utilized in an untraditional setting”, rather than just for school work and a desk job. When the flow if the game is contingent upon the announcers’ ability to manage the work that goes on behind the scenes, it’s important to stay calm under every stressful, pressure-filled situations. Luckily, Hallie and Kelly have learned they can handle such stress while still enjoying the game.