HUNTINGTON — Adam Cavalier, who graduated from Marshall University May 9, was named the winner of the inaugural Jim Nantz Award as the top collegiate sports broadcaster in the country on June 5.
The award, sports broadcasting’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, is presented by Sportscasters Talent Agency of America.
The Montgomery, W.Va., native started his sports broadcasting career 2005 as a freshman at Marshall. His sports broadcasting experience includes play-by-play, sports talk show hosting and sports update anchoring.
“An argument can be made for any of these sports broadcasters to have won the award,” said STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik. “What Adam does so well is to create great drama with his play-by-play. He isn’t just describing the action. His sportscasting is telling a story. His court description and verbiage are also excellent. He is ready to hit the sports broadcasting job market running.”
Cavalier, who has won a slew of awards during his time at Marshall, said this one lands at the top.
“The big thing for me with the Jim Nantz award; it is truly incredible to be considered the best sportscaster in the country among my collegiate peers. What made it for me was when I saw the judges. To have a former voice of the Thundering Herd, Wes Durham (now at Georgia Tech), say you’re among the best makes it that much more special."
He plans to return to Marshall in the fall for graduate school. He’ll also be a graduate assistant and station manager for WMUL.
Eventually, though, wants to become the play-by-play voice of a Division I university, preferably on the radio.
“Play-by-play is the ultimate goal,” he said. “There is a certain mystique to doing it. Doing it for the student station for the past four years, there wasn’t a game where I said, ‘I don’t want to be at the mic today.’”
At Marshall, Cavalier did play-by-play for football, men and women’s basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. He started with volleyball his freshman year because that’s all that was available.
“I wanted on the airways my freshmen year at Marshall and all they had was volleyball,” he said. “ I’ve said to be myself that as long as it’s a play-by-play call, I’ll call any sport. If they call and say, ‘Adam, we need to you to call soccer this weekend,’ I’ll learn soccer.”
The Jim Nantz Award, named in honor of the four-time Sports Broadcaster of the Year from CBS Sports, is the crown jewel of the STAA All-America program.
“STAA hopes to encourage young sports broadcasters to emulate Jim’s work ethic, personal values and devotion to family,” Chelesnik said. “We are grateful to Jim for lending his name to this award.”
Jim Nantz Award candidates were ranked according to their ability across multiple sports broadcasting genres, including play-by-play for various sports, sports update anchoring and sports talk show hosting. To be eligible for consideration, sportscasters need to demonstrate expertise in at least two sports broadcasting disciplines.
“The aim of the STAA All-America program is to encourage collegiate sports broadcasters nationwide to strive to achieve their professional best,” Chelesnik said. “We also want to recognize those students who have worked exceptionally hard to develop their sports broadcasting skills.”
Chelesnik evaluated the sportscasters and chose the finalists. A panel including Learfield Sports Broadcast Manager Tom Boman, Indiana Pacers broadcaster Mark Boyle, veteran Georgia Tech University sportscaster Wes Durham and Ohio State University play-by-play broadcaster Paul Keels helped judge the finalists.
Other finalists for the Jim Nantz Award were sports broadcasters Adam Amin, Valparaiso; Siddique Farooqi, Hofstra; Joel Godett, Syracuse; Jim MacKay, University of Maine; and Justin Shackil, Fordham. Each of the finalists has been recognized as a 2009 Sports Broadcasting STAA All-American.