NAPPANEE – It’s a Friday night and NorthWood’s student section is all themed up. The senior leaders are getting everything organized, the younger students are following suit. One of the senior leaders, though, isn’t going to stand with his friends. In fact, he’s going to sit with the adults in the corner of The Pit.
There’s something to be said about sports and how it unfolds. Everyone has an opinion of how to coach it, how to play it, how to officiate it, how to tell the story. For Jack Wysong, in between his own sports seasons, he got to experience how the game works from the other side of the fence. The star tennis and baseball senior at NorthWood took the winter season to dabble in broadcasting, and not only got to consume sports from a decent vantage point, but got to see his friends perform from a completely different perspective.
“It’s definitely different, but that’s good,” Wysong said. “It’s still a NorthWood broadcast, so I’m still somewhat one-sided and biased towards NorthWood obviously, but definitely understanding from a referee’s point of view. I’m understanding some calls from up above is different from being on the floor surrounded by my friends who don’t always see it from an even point of view.”
Wysong did color for Broadcastsport.net, directed by Darrell Yaw. After making a run to the IHSAA State Finals as a tennis player in the fall, Wysong had a front row seat to watch his friends on the NorthWood girls basketball team make their own run to the IHSAA Class 3-A state championship. Not to be outdone, the NorthWood boys basketball team won the NorthWood Sectional and were scheduled to play at the New Castle Regional before the IHSAA canceled the boys basketball tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While his peers got to pick and choose their own opinions about the coaches, the opposing players and everything high school students tend to focus upon at ballgames, Wysong sat in thought on press row. Sometimes his candid thoughts would spill out, but other times, a well-balanced description of a moment in time emerged that helped someone see the game through his unique perspective.
“Jack’s level of confidence, he was a natural from day one,” stated Yaw. “Also having been on the freshman basketball team, he understood coach Wolfe’s system and most of the plays. That adds an insight to our broadcasts that as an adult we would not have access to.”
Wysong, who admitted he likely won’t pursue a full-blown career in sports broadcasting in college, is headed to DePauw University to study economics. Asked about what it would have been like to broadcast baseball, somehow overseeing himself playing for the Panthers in a faux spring season, Wysong laughed, “As I’ve listened to broadcasts, I’ve caught a lot of different styles the commentators bring to the game. When I would think of broadcasting myself, I would very likely be more critical of myself and my team, because I would and should know what to do in a situation if I made a mistake on the field. I would like to think that anyone broadcasting a baseball game that played the game would think the same way. They know the game.”
Wysong’s baseball coach, AJ Risedorph, who also served as an assistant coach for the boys basketball program, added, “Jack is very unique. He is always thinking, definitely always talking. He is someone who loves to be on the front lines and this is that for him. Along with the information and access he receives, he gets to share his passion for NorthWood athletics. It’s his way of expressing his love for our school. Having listened to a few broadcasts, I feel he does it very well.”
The chance to gain perspective was the most poignant aspect of the opportunity for Wysong.
“I think I missed four girls basketball games, but I got to cheer them on, too,” offered Wysong. “I got to do both. For a community of maybe 7,500 and a school of 900, but we can compete at the state level. We have a lot of sports on the state map. We have stories to tell. I’m glad I got a chance to be a part of that.”