St. Anne's-Belfield School freshman Russ Beisswanger has made a name for himself this season with the Saints as the teams' in-game announcer.
For Beisswanger, the season calling the varsity girls and boys games was a step up from the middle school games he called as an eighth grader, but the transition to the upper level was a seamless one.
"I've known Russ since he was a kindergartener here and he came to me right before the season started and wanted to announce and I was a little hesitant," boys varsity coach Brian Kent said. "But he came in, we let him do the first game — total professionalism. He talks to the (opposing) coach, he gets the roster, he emails me three or four days in advance just to check on things, just the professionalism there that he shows and demonstrates, it's just been great to have him around."
Beisswanger got into announcing the middle school games after he tried out for, but did not make, the middle school basketball team.
A successful first season calling games didn't convince Beisswanger that he would be well-received at the varsity level, but the STAB high schoolers embraced the newest member of their program.
"They've all been super great, I'm so thankful for that," Beisswanger said. "The fan base is very energetic, the coaches have been very accepting and I love how the teams have been so accepting of me. I was nervous about how I would be received as this freshman announcer who didn't even make the middle school team but they've been so great."
Athletic Director Rich Mazzola sees Beisswanger's unique style as what's helped him become a staple part of the Saints' home games.
"He's got some signature gestures that bring emphasis to when he introduces certain players, where he'll emphasize the last syllable and then punch the air to drive it home," Mazzola said. "He gets into it, he certainly gets into it and he brings the crowd into it so that makes it really fun."
Mazzola and Kent agree that although Beisswanger isn't contributing on the court, he's a member of the team nonetheless.
"He comes into all of our talks, pregame, postgame, the kids love him," Kent said. "He gets up at school and makes announcements about our games, he's really just a part of the STAB basketball team and we treat him that way."
Beisswanger chose to get into announcing after his interest in playing fail through and it's exactly the type of action that Kent talks to his players about taking in the face of adversity on, and off, the court.
"We were talking about that in our postgame (talk)," the coach said. "All kids need to learn that and how to jump back or step back and find something (they're) passionate about and I think (Russ) has found that here. Still part of a team, but just a different part."
As for what's ahead of Beisswanger in respect to his newly-honed talent, the freshman says only time will tell.
"That's just something time will have to decide," Beisswanger said. "This would be cool -- PA announcing at a game -- sports writing is also another career I would like to pursue and also broadcasting on TV, those are some of my interests."
Dick Vitale and the late Stuart Scott are the first names the young MC lists as broadcasters whose style he respects, but he knows he has to continue developing his own style.
That's something Mazzola has already seen growth in, in just the first season of high school games.
"He's come into his own and so he's built upon his own style even through the course of this season, so I see him progressing further and further," Mazzola said. "I only say that, not because I have a lot of experience in it, but I see the energy that he brings into the gym and the respect that he brings to that position as well."