Beth Mowins - From Backyard to Broadcast Booth
She needed to tell someone. The events unfolding in front of her could not go unnoticed. Inside, she knew it had to be announced. So, she grabbed her Mr. Microphone and described the game developing before her.
“When I was not playing I had Mr. Microphone,” says ESPN broadcaster Beth Mowins, “My brother would play football in the backyard and I would broadcast the games to my mom in the kitchen.”
Mowins grew up in Syracuse, NY and sports were a part of her life, but she never thought it would be on the field of play where she would make her mark.
“I always knew I wanted to do it [broadcast],” says Mowins, “I was always playing [sports] and I talked a lot too.”
And it was that toy microphone, her favorite present as a child that helped her get an early start in her destined career.
Mowins attended the Newhouse School of Communication and was a constant spectator, as she watched as many sports as she could. She become familiar with the nuances of each one and developed her broadcasting skills.
Her role models are the great Dodger announcer Vin Scully, “He is baseball to me,” and Keith Jackson, the man who in her mind is college football.
But it was when she saw Phyllis George on NFL Today back in the 1970’s that she truly believed that if George could, then she could.
Despite the difficulties of finding women’s sports on TV, she got her start calling the action at Syracuse University and the Big East Conference before her break at ESPN.
“The execs said ‘If we could get a woman who could call games and do it well [we should]’,” Mowins says.
And the rest became a historical blur. Mowins has moved through the ranks of ESPN, calling NCAA softball, basketball, and volleyball, and into the national spotlight broadcasting United States women’s soccer games.
It's a job where her passion is obvious in her voice and radiates from her face. It is also one that keeps her on the road for 45 weeks of the year, which is the toughest part for this Tampa-based announcer.
“Every game is an away game, sometimes its hard to keep up with real life,” says Mowins.
Throughout her career she has called slow moving, exciting, and entertaining games, and she has met personalities who have left an impression on her.
One such athlete she met when she called a Chicago Bulls game for ESPN Radio.
Michael Jordan “was one athlete I was affected by [just] meeting. I was starstruck,” says Mowins, “I hope to tell my grandkids one day.”
Another athlete who made an impression on her did so partly by their shared love of food. When Mowins had the chance to work with US soccer star Julie Foudy in the booth, she found out that Foudy likes to eat cookies during the broadcast like she does. But Foudy awed her past the snack plate as well.
“Of all the things Foudy can do now that she is retired, I hope she gets into broadcasting,” says Mowins, “She can sell the sport like no one else.”
Foudy, known to many for her passion to promote women’s sports, has another characteristic Mowins enjoys: her sense of humor. She considers Foudy the funniest athlete she has ever met.
“[Foudy] has a wonderful sense of humor,” says Mowins, “She’s about as funny as me but not quite.”
Mowins captivates by her voice -- not too highly dramatic, but full of excitement -- and a sports background deep in information. She is a professional through and through who can laugh at her own mistakes, like the one she calls her most embarrassing during a broadcast.
“I was calling a softball championship and a girl hit a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning [games go seven] and I called it as a walk-off home run,” says Mowins.
Her easygoing manner never seems to waver. Whether it’s talking to one person or announcing to millions, Mowins always seems at ease. She respects those she has worked with and those she has met, and loves her job.
She lists the best parts of her job as, “On game day, being able to watch world class athletes, and how they compete and how passionate they play,” and adds, “I like to get my work done and then be able to watch and enjoy the game.”
One of her biggest hopes is that women’s sports will continue to gain a bigger viewing audience.
“My wish, and TV ratings bear me out,” says Mowins, “a lot more women play now, have kids who play, but don’t watch women’s sports on TV. If more women would watch women’s sports on TV it would urge [TV] executives to put more on.”
She has worked hard to get where she is now, breaking into a field considered a man’s world for so long. She offers the following advice for those seeking to follow her path from the backyard to the broadcast booth. “Don’t be afraid to ask people ‘why,’ ‘what if.’ Don’t be afraid to attack your career. Get in the game, don’t stay on the sidelines.”
© 2005 Virginia Lopez/Women's Sports Net