A UT student has used his talent and passion for sports to become one of the Top 20 best student sportscasters in the country. Roger Hoover, junior in journalism and electronic media, received this honor from the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America All-America Program.

Jon Chelesnik, CEO of STAA, said the Top 20 sportscasters program was the “equivalent of the Heisman trophy in college football.” He said Hoover was chosen for many reasons, including his writing and talent for broadcasting.

“He tells me what’s at stake in a ballgame,” Chelesnik said. “He adds drama to the game.”

Chelesnik commented on Hoover’s controlled energy.

“Many young, inexperienced broadcasters get too into the game and start screaming, but Hoover was never over the top,” Chelesnik said.

Hoover’s passion for sports began at a young age and helped shape his love for broadcasting. Hoover said he grew up as a Chicago Cubs fan and spent his afternoons as a child watching Cubs games.

“I was so passionate about the Cubs, and I wanted to use my voice to deliver news about them and other teams,” Hoover said.

Hoover went on to use his passion and talent to gain experience in the field. He has worked on shows at UT for the Volunteer Network, including Sports Mecca and TVC news, as well as a co-host on Inside the Orange, a spring sports television program. He has also reported on Web casts for almost every sport at UT.

Josh Queener, TVC director, said Hoover seemed like he had been broadcasting for years the first day he came into the studio.

“He was professional and knew his facts,” Queener said. “He knew how to be on camera.”

While Queener said Hoover’s talent was what helped him get ahead so fast, he said Hoover’s dedication to sports was what made the difference.

“He volunteered for everything and had talent and desire for what he wanted to do,” Queener said.

Hoover has also worked outside the university. He was an intern at WVLT, Knoxville’s CBS affiliate, this past spring and worked as a play-by-play announcer for the Kingsport Mets, the Appalachian League affiliate of the New York Mets.

Hoover said he loved being a play-by-play announcer and got to go to all the Mets games, as well as travel with the team. He said he was one of the youngest broadcasters in the Minor League. Hoover now works for the Tennessee Smokies, an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, as a broadcast assistant. His work with baseball teams has inspired a career goal.

“I want to be a play-by-play announcer for Major League Baseball for television,” Hoover said. “I want to work for one team and not a network so I can follow a team all season.”

Hoover decided to submit his entry to the STAA while browsing the Web site. He said he regularly checks the Web site for job openings and saw the opportunity. He said he submitted a single, six minute file with play-by-play clips from his work with the Kingsport Mets and from a UT basketball report. The list of the top sportscasters was revealed March 31, and Hoover said he was very nervous.

“I was just sitting in class looking at the Web site, and I refreshed the page and saw my name,” Hoover said.

Eighth on the list of 20, Hoover was the only sportscaster from a Southeastern Conference (SEC) school. Hoover said this surprised him.

“The SEC is so big athletically and spends so much money on broadcasting that it was surprising I was the only one to try for it,” Hoover said.

Chelesnik said Hoover was the first sportscaster from UT he had ever come across, but said UT should be proud if all their sportscasters are anything like Hoover.

The STAA program recognizes college sportscasters nationwide and encourages them to achieve their best. Chelesnik, a former ESPN radio host, is passionate about helping sportscasters and said the program was an incentive for sportscasters.

“They have the Top 20 football and basketball players, so why not have the Top 20 sportscasters,” Chelesnik said.

He said the program chose 20 talented sportscasters, and the overall winner will receive the Jim Nantz award on June 5. Hoover described the award as a reflection of his hard work.

“It’s a tribute to all the nights and weekends I’ve given up,” Hoover said.

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