50 years of broadcasting with Shippensburg's Scott Smith
The Shippensburg football team managed to eliminate a 14-point deficit against Bishop McDevitt in the District 3 Class 4A semifinal, Friday. Watch each play of the final 1:26 to see how they did it.
In 50 years of doing anything connected to sports, it's guaranteed you'll pile up some wonderful memories.
So you'd expect Scott Smith, who has put in that many years of broadcasting local sports in the Shippensburg area, to have a treasure trove of good stories to tell.
What's interesting, though, is that Smith's 50th year of broadcasting was also his most memorable one.
"This year was just very magical," Smith said. "It was a real joy watching these kids play football. They never once gave up. There were a couple of games when they found themselves in some really deep holes, but they just kept playing the game. It was amazing to watch them play."
ln talking to Smith, it's obvious he has a love for Shippensburg and community sports in the area.
Born and raised in Ship, Smith was just 14 years old when he began his broadcasting career that has now lasted for five decades.
"I think the folks at the radio were worried because at 13 or 14 years old, my voice really hadn't changed yet," Smith said. "But they gave me the opportunity, and it just blossomed from there."
When Smith started back in the early 1960s, he broadcast for WSHP out of Shippensburg, which was a daytime-only, 500-watt station.
"This was back when (community) radio was in its infancy," Smith said.
Back then, Smith and his team helped broadcast Little League games and Franklin County adult baseball before branching out to Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University) football games.
"One of the first things I remember about Scott was how meticulous he was," said Jay Rotz, Shippensburg native and former broadcast partner of Smith's. "He had details for both teams, notes about different players, and that's something you don't always see in local radio. It wasn't a one-sided broadcast."
When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changed some of its guidelines, radio stations were able to begin broadcasting at night. Smith estimated he started calling Shippensburg Greyhound football games 20 years ago.
But Smith's dedication to his craft and his hometown doesn't stop there. About six years ago, Smith teamed up with his cousin, Rob Ebersole, to form SEsportsnet.com, which webcasts Hounds football games and some basketball and baseball games.
"What we really wanted to offer the Ship community was one place to go to follow high school sports," Smith said. "It's still a work in progress, and we're always trying to get more information out there on a regular basis, but it's a community service for us. We enjoy it as a hobby."
Ebersole said, "Scott and I have always been close, and (SEsportsnet) is like a branch of the family. The whole broadcasting thing is in our blood. I learned it all from Scott, and we have a good time with it. Of course, this year was great, but even when they're bad, we enjoy it."
And for fans who don't live within the 20-mile radius reach of WIOO, which currently simulcasts SEsportsnet's football coverage, the site has been a real blessing.
"For me personally, it's opened up the opportunity to not have to drive 50 miles to keep up with my high school," Rotz said. "That means a lot to me. If I wasn't at a game or GameTimePA wasn't livestreaming it, Scott was my conduit. He's as good as he ever was, and the last 20 minutes of the Bishop McDevitt game bring that home."
It won't be easy for fans to forget Shippensburg's unlikely comeback against Crusaders.
With about three minutes left in the game, Smith and Ebersole started their usual season wrap-up. They began recognizing the seniors and mentioning the Hounds' accomplishments for the year.
Then the unthinkable happened: Ship scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes to secure a 29-28 victory in the District 3 Class 4A semifinals.
"Rob and I were starting to write the obit on the football season," Smith said. "It was just an amazing series of events. I've never seen anything like it in all my years. Particularly when you're dealing with gentlemen of that age, to do that, it was truly amazing."
And what was the one thing to match the enthusiasm the Greyhounds felt on the field?
"Late in the broadcast, Scott said something like, 'I'm sure we didn't call it as amazingly as it played out,'" Rotz said. "Well, he pretty much did. I listened to (the broadcast) again a few weeks ago, and I got goosebumps all over again. (Scott) gave us that feeling."