There is a very short list of Blacks who are “the voice” of a particular team or sport—Gus Johnson (college football) and Meghan McPeak (basketball) are two examples. It is an even shorter list in hockey, but William “Trey” Matthews is proud to be on it.
Last winter Matthews was officially named the voice of the Adrian (Mich.) College Bulldogs women’s hockey team. The liberal arts college hosts five hockey teams, three men’s and two women’s.
A play-by-play on the outset can be a chatterbox, non-stop talk fest from start to finish. But a good man or woman must accurately describe the action to the knowledgeable fan, the casual fan, the novice fan, and everyone in between who tunes in to the broadcast or telecast.
“I thought I would do basketball, but they gave me a shot at hockey,” admitted Matthews, who will be a junior this fall, in a MSR phone interview. He added that he didn’t know much about hockey: “I had to teach myself and learn the game. I had to teach myself the rules, the penalties, what a player can and cannot do.”
Hockey is one sport that if you take your eye off the action, you’ll miss plenty. “I had so much fun doing it because hockey is lively, entertaining, and fast-paced. It’s unpredictable, energetic,” Matthews observed.
The young man didn’t start out in college to do hockey play-by-play, but he did listen to his mother. “I had an interest in going into television because of my majoring in communications—I’m a double major in communications and business management. My mother actually told me to give broadcasting a shot,” he recalled.
Thanks to a friend at Adrian College Television (ACTV), the school’s broadcasting training facility, who recommended him to join the staff, Matthews got the job calling hockey games on a regular basis after winter break in January.
“I think I have a good voice,” Matthews continued. “You got to be talking constantly. If it looks easy, that is because that announcer is making it [look easy]. It is fun if you know what you are doing. You have to improve day-by-day and add to it.”
Like everyone else, Matthews finished his sophomore year doing on-line distance learning. But he also worked on his new craft. “During the [virus] outbreak and stay-at-home order, NHL TV aired back-to-back-to-back hockey games per night. To help myself prepare [for next season], I locked myself in my room every night and forced myself to watch the games… It can help me prepare to be a better hockey announcer.”
After a season, Matthews said he sees broadcasting, especially doing play-by-play, as a possible post-college career, staying among the few Blacks in such roles. He said the school will resume on-campus classes in August. “I am looking forward to year two, looking forward to getting back to the rink and helping my team have a good broadcast.
“I definitely do see this as a possible career, whether it be hockey or something else,” he said. “I know I have the voice, the work ethic to try to be the best broadcaster I can be. I’m a fast learner.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.