I have said many times that I always wanted to be a game broadcaster—from the time I was five years old—because I wanted to give people the same feeling of being at games even when they were not that others had given to me.

I have been able to put my voice to some pretty high-profile moments in local sports history, and I enjoy when you bring those moments up when we meet in public.

But over three decades and almost 2,800 game broadcasts, I have discovered several other things that I really enjoy about my job—things that, when you are starting out at 23 years old, you don’t think that much about.

One of those things is watching kids struggle as freshman and sophomores who then have the light click on at some point as juniors and seniors and become productive, effective players.

As an offshoot of that, I also have come to enjoy watching kids work the process of getting to that point. I know, that sounds very sadistic, doesn’t it? And kind of cruel too. But that’s not the way I mean it. Problem solving and finding solutions is an important life skill, and different people go about it different ways. I like to watch young people figure it out what their own best way is.

But the thing that I really find most fascinating about every new season is the reassigning and redefining of roles on a given team.

This applies to every team at every school in every season of the school year.

What do I mean?

Every year, high school kids (and college kids, too) graduate. There is no opportunity to sign them to contract extensions. They move on.

And on top of that, kids get injured and don’t play, and others choose not to go out for a team.

So pretty much every year, coaches are using their off-seasons trying to identify who they will plug into the vacated positions left by those players who don’t return.

Those positions include both the playing positions on the field and the leadership positions on and off of it. And every sport has it.

Who is the quarterback going to be? Who will be the new point guard? Who will play #1 singles? Who will fill those spots in the relays? Who is the new shortstop?

Sometimes those are easy things to figure out, but sometimes they aren’t. And the sport we’re talking about matters to the process of getting there. A football team only plays 9 regular season games, so they need to find those players and plug them in well before the first snap of the first game. Soccer teams play a few more games, but a coach might only have three or four games to tinker before their conference season starts. Volleyball, baseball and softball coaches have the most games and matches, against more kinds of opponents, and that means they have more time to search for the right players in the right circumstances.

The “X” factor, of course, is the kids themselves. Which one’s mature faster. Which ones work harder during the off-season. Which one’s bodies changed the most. Which ones are ready for the challenge of an upgrade in their status on the team.

No one can predict those kinds of things.

Which is why I like that part of every new season. There is some mystery to it.

Now, please be mindful that I am a broadcaster, not a coach.

While so many coaches claim to “love this process”, they also would be at least a little dishonest to say that they look forward to it as much as I do. Coaches, by definition, are about controlling the things they can control, and making that list of controllable things as long as possible.

That’s not a personality flaw, by the way. CEOs and presidents at any local business in town are doing the exact same thing to achieve the same purpose.  

So as you watch a new sports season begin this winter, realize you are watching the evolution of the teams that are playing and the people who make up those teams. Then understand that what is happening is part of the path to learning for everyone involved.

And that’s what it’s all about, right?