National collegiate sportscasters program recognizes two Hokies for work behind the microphone
Every year, hundreds of college students submit their sports broadcasting reels for the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA) All-America program, which recognizes the nation’s outstanding collegiate radio and TV sports broadcasters.
The program culminates every spring with the Jim Nantz Award to honor the nation’s outstanding collegiate sportscaster. On May 27, STAA streamed its announcement show to reveal these top sportscasters as chosen by a panel of judges.
STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik announced 14 names that made up the second and third team All-Americans. But 2022 Virginia Tech graduate Kevin DiDomenico did not hear his name.
Chelesnik started reading off the first team All-Americans in alphabetical order and began with Nick DeLuca, a senior from Fordham University. DiDomenico quickly ran through the alphabet in his head. Phew. ‘E’ in DeLuca comes before ‘I’ in DiDomenico, so there was still hope.
“Another senior, from Virginia Tech, Kevin DiDomenico,” Chelesnik said.
It was official. DiDomenico, a 2022 sports media and analytics graduate from the School of Communication, was named one of the top five collegiate sportscasters in the country.
“I was thrilled when my name was called,” DiDomenico said. “It was just an unreal experience. To have another Virginia Tech guy up there in the top five was awesome. For the program, it just shows what we’re doing and what we’re going to continue to do.”
Evan Hughes, a 2021 multimedia journalism graduate, earned All-American honors as a junior in 2020 and was named the top collegiate sportscaster in the country by winning the 2021 Jim Nantz Award. The talent stemming from students in the School of Communication continues to be recognized on the national stage.
“Virginia Tech has now had an STAA All-American honoree for three consecutive years, which is unprecedented for our program,” said Bill Roth, a professor of practice in the School of Communication. “Kevin has worked so hard at his craft, spending summers in minor league baseball booths in Pulaski and Salem. That daily work with those professional teams really helped Kevin become a much more polished announcer.”
DiDomenico transferred to Virginia Tech as a sophomore largely because of a conversation he remembered with Roth as a high school senior. Roth encouraged DiDomenico to think of himself as a sports broadcaster five, 10, and 15 years down the road because of the experience he would be able to garner at Virginia Tech in conjunction with the sports media and analytics major.
As Roth noted, over the past three years, DiDomenico has found himself calling all kinds of sporting events as the play-by-play voice for the Salem Red Sox, Pulaski Yankees, Radford University men’s basketball on ESPN+, and all sorts of Virginia Tech athletics assignments on the ACC Network Extra.
“I want to say I called over 200 games throughout my time at Tech,” DiDomenico said. “There’s no way I would be the broadcaster I am without that experience. I’m not Jim Nantz or Mike Tirico. I didn’t come out of the womb with a microphone in hand. Without that experience, I wouldn't be where I am. It felt like that hard work paid off.”
The good news didn’t end there. Giovanni Heater, a Virginia Tech freshman majoring in sports media and analytics, was named an honorable mention All-American. It marked the first time that Virginia Tech had two students honored by STAA in the same year.
“Gio is our first-ever freshman honoree,” Roth said. “He is a really talented broadcaster. I’m looking forward to watching him develop over the next three years at Virginia Tech.”
Heater immediately jumped into the action, getting involved with 3304 Sports, the multimedia platform for student sports journalism at Virginia Tech. In his first year on campus, Heater was calling games for football, basketball, and the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. These opportunities are offered to freshmen entering the sports media and analytics major at Virginia Tech.
“Coming to Virginia Tech was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Heater said. “I just think it’s special what we have as far as the people and what we’re building in the sports media and analytics program. It’s the best place for a freshman to get involved right from the get-go. It’s very seniority-based at a lot of other schools. If you’re young and you want to get involved right from the get-go, then Virginia Tech is the perfect place. I think this proved that.”
Now, DiDomenico has been working with Barstool Chicago, a sports and entertainment website, for three months. He hopes to land a gig as a play-by-play voice for a Division I institution.
Heater is back in his hometown of Syracuse, New York, where he’s calling summer basketball and baseball games for the Syracuse Stallions and Syracuse Salt Cats, respectively.
The culmination of DiDomenico and Heater’s national recognition is another harbinger to the success brewing inside the sports media and analytics program. In just its third year as an official major, those in the program know this isn’t the end, but just the beginning.
“It takes a village,” Heater said. “Neither one of us did it alone. It was the people around us pushing us and making us better and learning from our peers and learning from Bill and learning from Evan. As awesome as it is to have an individual award, it really is a team award and a team effort. Neither one of us did it alone.”
Written by Cory Van Dyke