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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

'Your voice for DePauw Tiger athletics'

Saturday, June 19, 2010

John Herrick
GREENCASTLE -- To say the last four years of DePauw athletics have been successful would be an understatement. These four years have seen the school's only team national championship, Jordan Havercamp's game-winning kick in the 2007 Monon Bell as well as the individual achievements of Tiger athletes such as Liz Bondi, Megan Soultz and Spud Dick.

But one mainstay of the DePauw sports scene in recent years never stepped between the lines -- at least not during competition.

John Herrick, who earned his degree last month, has spent the last four years as a sportscaster and the last two as WGRE's sports director. He's been right there on the sidelines or in the press box for so many of DePauw's remarkable sports performances.

His career as a college broadcaster culminated shortly after graduation, when he was named in the top 20 of the Sports Talent Agency of America's (STAA) all-American competition. It was the second time Herrick has been so honored, having finished 16th as a junior and 19th as a senior.

Herrick's broadcasting career at DePauw started out as a bit of a charmed life, as he had the opportunity to cover DePauw's women's basketball NCAA Div. III championship in 2007 as a freshman.

"We had about 10 kids in the sports staff my first semester freshman year. By the time second semester rolled around, there were only two -- me and the assistant sports director at the time," Herrick said. "I'd heard all about the women's basketball team and how they might be able to go to the national championship. I never even thought that I might be able to call that game. That's when things kind of got started. I just stayed involved all freshman year and that opportunity opened up, and that was huge."

With the experience under his belt, Herrick continued to move up the ladder at WGRE. He was production director during his sophomore year and moved up to sports director as both a junior and senior.

As sports director, not only did he have the play-by-play call of many DePauw events, he also organized the Putnam County Game of the Week, WGRE's weekly broadcast of Putnam County high school football, and Putnam County Prime Time, a weekly sports talk show dedicated to local sports.

While being at a small school like DePauw gave Herrick the chance to get involved early, it's really his hard work, preparation and professionalism to which others attribute his success.

"One thing I've always like about John is he has a great attitude and he really wants to learn," WGRE advisor Jeff McCall said. "He doesn't mind to have guidance or directions. He wants to respond to that. He's not so wrapped up in himself that he doesn't want to improve. I think that's important for anybody who goes into sports media. You always have to be ready to take some constructive criticism and then go forward."

"John is unusually professional for his age. He makes a great impression when you meet him the first time and then backs up when you get to know him," said John Chelesnik of the STAA. "I think very highly of him personally."

The dedication, the professionalism, the preparation -- it all shone through when Herrick was on the air. Listening to his broadcasts came across more like a professional production than college radio.

You wouldn't know it to talk to him, though. He stays humble and sounds more like a kid in a candy store when reflecting on his experiences with WGRE. When he speaks of the Monon Bell, it's as someone who respects the history of the game and who is happy to have simply played a small part in it.

"I talked to Jordan Havercamp about this past year and he said, 'Whenever you're a part of a game like this, you're a part of history.' He's absolutely right, whether you're a player or a member of the media, you're taking part in one of the greatest rivalries in the history of sports. It's incredible. To be a part of that is something special," Herrick said.

While he was not on the call for Havercamp's kick in 2007, Herrick was on the sideline. He was also able to call the next two Monon Bell Classics.

"To be able to be on the call for the next two Monon Bell games was pretty special," he said. "I wish this last one would have turned out a little bit better, but it's still pretty special to be able to do this game."

But his humility should fool no one. The professionals who've had the chance to work with Herrick will attest to his talent. That talent was why McCall pointed him toward the STAA in the first place.

"I suggested to John to reach out to different organizations and to start making those contacts, and he did it," McCall said. "He did all the legwork, and part of that was working with the STAA, but also to get internships during summer and to participate in various broadcasting contests through the Associated Press and other organizations.

"He really did the legwork needed to be successful, and I think he's got a lot of potential," he added. "I expect him to go off and do some great things."

As Herrick began to make those connections, others were as impressed as McCall. He made enough of an impression that he was the only person to finish in the STAA's top 20 who was not from a Div. I school.

"As you would expect, the schools that are traditionally renowned for their sports broadcasting programs have represented well, but then we'll come across guys like John," Chelesnik said. "It's a credit to the instruction he's received at DePauw, but also to his personal motivation and diligence to try to improve. He's obviously studied other broadcasters and has solicited advice from other sports broadcasters."

For Herrick, ignorance may have been bliss when it came to the application process.

"Being na*ve was a strength of mine because I thought I would just submit stuff; I didn't know who all was applying," he said. "I guess if you know who's applying, it might hinder you a little bit. I'm glad it didn't hinder me."

And while radio has been Herrick's medium of choice, Chelesnik revealed his talents extend into other areas.

"His radio stuff is solid; his television stuff is even better," Chelesnik said. "His writing skills, his degree of comfort on camera and his ability to let his personality come through on camera are unique for someone of his age.

"He also has a terrific voice," he added. "We try not to make that a part of the judging because some people just don't have that. But the fact that he has an authoritative voice and delivery certainly doesn't hurt."

With four years at WGRE and two honors from the STAA under his belt, Herrick is moving up, currently searching for a broadcast job. In this pursuit, the true purpose of the STAA comes through. Chelesnik said the organization started as a way to help young broadcasters, and now Herrick is one of those.

"I'm definitely going to stay in the industry. Other guys will tell you, 'I wanted to stay in radio and I got out. It was just too hard.' It is hard right now, but I'm just waiting to hear back from two employers right now," Herrick said.

As he looks back on his four years at DePauw, his favorite memories might not be of the games themselves, though. Instead, it was about the relationships forged and how the insight he gained helped him inform the listener.

"I just remember the little things where you go on a road trip and you talk to the players and coaches at dinner and practices," Herrick said. "They give you some really keen insights on what they're looking for in the opponents, and that makes you feel special as a sportscaster because you know certain things that other people don't, and you can bring them to those people during the game. That adds to how much fun your job is."

Like so many graduates, Herrick is now playing the waiting game. However, the positive attitude that served him at DePauw is continuing as he begins his professional life.

"I don't know when, but I know something will open up before the summer is over. I'm just trying to be patient," he concluded.

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