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Virginia Tech’s Sports Media Analytics quickly grows from journalism concentration to fully developed major

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:37 AM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Former Voice of the Hokies, and current ESPN broadcaster, Bill Roth is training the next wave of great sportscasters at Virginia Tech. In just four years, the Sports Media program has gone from just being a concentration with a few classes to now a full-blown degree. And it’s quickly pumping out sports reporters who aren’t waiting until graduation to get in the broadcast booth.

“It’s the perfect environment for a high school student to come to Virginia Tech and learn sports journalism,” Roth said.

That’s made Sports Media Analytics one of the most competitive majors at Tech.

“Only 55 of 400 who applied were able to join us this year,” Roth said.

Some of the students in the program right now include Tyler Katz, Jake Lyman, Andy Loce and Kevin Didomenico.

“We take people in our program and put them into real-world situations,” Katz said.

So they’re prepared to take their skills out of the classroom even before they graduate.

“Over the summer, I was able to be the play-by-play voice of the Pulaski River Turtles,” Loce said.

“I was able to be the play-by-play voice of the Salem Red Sox,” Didomenico said.

Many of them get plugged in their freshman year.

“There’s so many opportunities for you to come and get experience right away,” Lyman said. “So that would be my pitch to people wanting to cover sports here at Virginia Tech.”

And several even had the opportunity to keep covering Hokie sports even after graduation, like David Cunningham, where they really put their classroom knowledge to the test.

“I’m the managing editor at Tech Sideline, which is a website that’s been covering Virginia Tech since 1996,” Cunningham said. “[School] really, really prepared me for all the writing and editing and all the stuff I’m doing now and just being a professional in general.”

And the program is not planning on slowing down any time soon, much to the delight of VT alum Evan Hughes.

“When people think about sports journalism, I think they’re going to think about Virginia Tech now, and they’ll certainly be thinking that in ten years,” Hughes said. “It just feels like everyone is on board with Team SMA, which is really cool.”

Hughes has really put Virginia Tech’s sports media program on the map.

Evan Hughes wins prestigious Jim Nanz award.
Evan Hughes wins prestigious Jim Nanz award.(WDBJ7)

This past spring, Hughes won the prestigious Jim Nantz award by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America. It recognizes the nation’s most outstanding collegiate radio and TV sports broadcasters.

He called it one of the greatest honors of his life.

“What was most exciting for me was that it was one of the last things I got to do as a Virginia Tech student,” Hughes said. “And it was a goal I had set out to do because I really wanted to win this for Virginia Tech, and I knew how much it would mean for our Sports Media Analytics program and just the recognition it brought to our school on a national level.”

As the program continues to grow, Virginia Tech plan to keep producing great talent and continue promoting the program for years to come.

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