Mike Emrick: From professor to professional sportscaster
Emrick stumbled on Geneva by accident in 1969. He was just finishing up his master’s at Miami University in Ohio and searching for a teaching position, preferably at a small Christian college. When he inquired about openings at DePauw University in Indiana, the head of their speech department pointed him towards Geneva.
Emrick contacted Art Fleser, who was then the head of the speech department at Geneva, and was invited to come for an interview. Emrick fell in love with Geneva’s campus, and when Fleser offered him the job, he accepted.
During his two years at Geneva, Emrick says there were “a lot of special times for a young teacher with enviably small classes in speech and broadcasting. I had the opportunity to improve in my ability to teach. But the most heartening thing was to see others grow in the same way.”
Emrick left Geneva in 1971 to pursue his doctorate in broadcasting, something he knew he would have to do in order to make a career of college teaching. Knowing in the back of his mind that “a career in hockey would be great fun if [he] was lucky enough to get into it,” he applied to two universities that had college hockey teams broadcasted on the campus station.
Those two schools were Michigan and Bowling Green. Both offered assistantships, but Bowling Green threw in the second period of their hockey broadcasts. It was an easy choice for Emrick.
During his time at Bowling Green, Emrick taught two courses in basic broadcasting, attended graduate school and did 18 periods of hockey a year. When his coursework ended, he sent out tapes of his Bowling Green games to “every hockey team that moved.” The Port Huron Flags liked his tapes and offered him a job. He’s been sportscasting ever since.
Emrick values the education offered at Geneva College, acknowledging that every day it is getting more and more challenging to live as a Christian in the world. “In the business world we are in … we can only reflect our faith by how we respond to the living of each day, how we work and how we use the gifts we have been given.”
Quoting Ernie Harwell, a baseball broadcaster who is now in his 90s, Emrick expresses what he believes is God’s purpose in calling him to the field of sportscasting. “‘A man is very lucky if God gives him a job he enjoys.’ I am lucky, that's for sure. I know if it weren't a calling, I would have probably found something else along the way. It is a wonderful job and I am grateful for it.”
Emrick is a founding member and president of the NHL Pronunciation Guide, which is used as a guide for all NHL broadcasters for some of hockey’s most difficult names. He is vice president of the NHL Broadcaster’s Association and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He was most recently honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame as the winner of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, for his outstanding contribution to hockey broadcasting.
- Rima Warren '09