Working Her Way Into The Game
Oct. 19, 2005
By Tracy Nelson
EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Throughout its 179-year history, Lafayette College has supplied the world with CEO's, doctors, lawyers, politicians, scientists and even the occasional Olympic gold medalist. Counted among that distinguished group of alumni is a significant number of student-athletes. A select few of those student-athletes have gone on to receive Lafayette's highest athletic honor, enshrinement in the Lafayette Maroon Club Hall of Fame.
That is the company in which 1989 graduate Beth Mowins finds herself, as she will be honored as the 13th woman to be inducted into the Maroon Club Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Nov. 18. The job that has called her and the company she finds herself working for is equally impressive - ESPN.
Mowins has combed her way through the male-dominated sports broadcasting industry and now finds herself as just the second woman to "make the call," voicing play-by-play on the college football scene. This fall, Mowins became ESPNU's voice of the Western Athletic Conference.
Although most of her peers are men, Mowins is quick to say that does not bother nor intimidate her. In fact, she said she is constantly a student of her craft, learning from some of the industry's best.
"It's my goal on the air to be informative, knowledgeable and entertaining, and I'm always picking up on techniques from other announcers," she said. "There are certain voices that mean something. Keith Jackson is college football. Vin Scully is baseball. I also enjoy ESPN's Mike Patrick. I don't want to be compared to them, but I like to think that there's a place for me in the industry."
Like many careers in broadcasting, it was a long road for Mowins as she worked her way up the ranks, getting acquainted with the right people and honing her craft relentlessly. After all, succeeding as a sports broadcaster was a goal that emerged during Mowins' adolescence.
"I grew up with three brothers and a dad that was a high school basketball coach," she said. "I grew up with sports and always enjoyed playing because it kept me out of trouble. I watched sports on TV and got interested in broadcasting quickly and knew early in life that's what I wanted to do."
While excelling on the hardwood for the Leopards and pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Mowins made a name for herself working at Lafayette's radio station and climbing the career ladder during her limited free time. She returned to her hometown of Syracuse, N.Y. during the summer and held internships with the local TV stations to gain experience.
That effort upstate certainly paid off, as Mowins returned home and was accepted at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication to begin graduate studies.
With Syracuse communications grads spread throughout the industry, the connections helped Mowins tremendously in landing her first gig, while still in grad school. Mowins worked at both a local TV station and as a late-night disc jockey.
Like many broadcasters, Mowins' first full-time job was with an upstart radio station in Syracuse covering sports and news. While working in radio provided experience and enough money to pay the bills, Mowins' eyes were still on something bigger. She sent out demo tapes to local and regional venues and impressed the Big East enough to land a job working chiefly with women's basketball.
"I found my niche on regional and national TV at a time when women's events were starting to hit the airwaves," Mowins said. "I started covering women and worked up. Once people got comfortable with my work, that's when things on the men's side started to open up."
With over a decade of professional experience that includes work for the ACC, ESPN and Penn State, Mowins said she still gets excited to strap on the headset and spend the next few hours providing the call for a captivated audience, a feeling she particularly enjoys when covering college football.
"I love the atmosphere of college football," the now Tampa, Fla. resident said. "Whenever you're covering a college event there is a certain electricity on campus that you can't help but feed off of."
Mowins' accomplishments, both professional and personal, root from her own personal experiences in her time spent on College Hill.
"I remember four years that changed me tremendously," she recalled. "I went in as a kid knowing what I wanted to do but unsure of how I could get there. Lafayette was great at helping me to figure out the road I had to take to accomplish my goals. It instilled self-confidence and gave me the tools to figure out what needed to be done."
Similar to her professional life, Mowins spent her undergraduate years on-the-go. A four-year letterwinner and two-year captain of the women's basketball team, Mowins still ranks among Lafayette's top players. Mowins set the single-season (220) and career (715) assists records, which remain intact, and she ranks seventh on the all-time scoring list, pouring in 1,159 points as a guard. Mowins also led the Leopards to the 1986-87 East Coast Conference title in a thrilling 60-58 win over archrival Lehigh.
When asked about her upcoming induction into the Hall, Mowins replied, "It's certainly a wonderful honor when I look at some of the tremendous athletes that were around just during my short years at Lafayette. It's a great honor to be mentioned with them."
After a long pause, she modestly added, "It's also a nice reward for a lot of hard work."
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