I don’t often write pieces about myself, simply I try to keep things focused on sports, with an occasional twist in the middle. But today, I feel like writing about how a microphone that I bought from Cracker Barrel when I was eight-years-old, led to me being able live the dream that I’m living today. Almost my entire life, I’ve known that I wanted to be a broadcaster, but it didn’t begin to take shape until 15. When I was eight years old, my family and I were headed to Spanish Fort, Alabama to visit with my grandparents, as my grandad was in his last few months of life and we stopped by the Evergreen Cracker Barrel where I purchased a plastic microphone as we were leaving. My mom said “You don’t need that, it’s a waste of money.” But to me, it wasn’t a waste of money, so I convinced my mom to let me get it. As we rode down the road, I was talking into it constantly, I kept talking into it when we arrived at my grandparents’ house in Spanish Fort. I used it constantly after that, at that point just to prove to my mom that it wasn’t a ‘waste of money’. I picked up old media guides from various sporting events and began to practice, which was always several hours. Multiple times I was told to be quiet because somebody was watching TV, but I knew if I stopped, I would never reach my dream. So I continued to practice with the Cracker Barrel microphone for years until it broke. Then, I was given my first real microphone several years later and my brother had an electric guitar amp that he didn’t use much, so when he wasn’t using it, I would sneak it into my room and use it for hours. I’m often asked “How do you sound so much different when you’re not behind a microphone,” and “How does your voice get so deep on the microphone?” I’ve been asked this millions of times over the seven years that i’ve been a broadcaster, and I often reply with “One time, I went to Cracker Barrel when I was eight.” I know people are often left wondering what Cracker Barrel and broadcasting have to do with each other but it’s all about that plastic microphone from Cracker Barrel in 2006. If you want to be a broadcaster, go to Cracker Barrel and convince your mom to let you get a plastic microphone, they make dreams come true.
Normally, I write about Braves Baseball, but tonight I decided to write about football, a sport that I haven’t written about yet. We all love football season, the sights of traditions, the sounds of helmets colliding, whistles blowing, rowdy fans screaming at the referees from the stands and all of the things tied in with the sport of football, especially college football down here in the South, where it’s all about the Iron Bowl and Alabama and Auburn, it’s about bragging rights when it comes down to it. But for me, a Tennessee fan, I just hope we make it to a bowl game, sadly. In just a few weeks, Florida and Miami will kick off the football season on August 24th at 6pm. As for me, a multi-sport broadcaster of almost seven years, football season is without a doubt the busiest time of the year me. During football season, I take on the responsibilities as The Voice of Wetumpka High School JV games, Wetumpka Middle School games and Wetumpka 9th grade football games. Many of you may asked ‘what do you do during the time between multiple sports?’ Here’s your answer, get ready for the next sport. In the past, I have broadcasted sports ranging from baseball to basketball and everything in between, so I don’t get much down time, but, it’s what I was born to do, so I’m not complaining. This will mark my 4th year as a football broadcaster and 7th year overall and if it’s anything like the past six, it will be incredible. Needless to say, I’m ready for the busiest months of my year.
Around this time in 2014, I received a Facebook message from Randy Belyeu, the Wetumpka High School Softball coach at time. I knew it must’ve been important because he never messaged me out of the blue. The message read: “Hey Braxton, it’s Coach Belyeu give me a call when you get the chance.” Immediately I picked up my phone and dialed his number. He picked up and we talked for a while and then he said “I’ve been in touch with Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and they would love to have you up there for a baseball game, just pull up their schedule and pick the home game you want to attend.” I knew this was the start of something special. I glanced at the schedule and chose the April 13, 2014 home game vs. Murray State Racers. Once I had the game picked out I immediately started practicing. Before I knew it, the weekend was here. We left Wetumpka on a Saturday in time for the Sunday game. We spent the night at University Inn just miles from Rudy Abbott Field. Sunday morning, I woke up quickly and rushed out of the hotel room as I had to meet former Jacksonville State Baseball coach Rudy Abbott that morning and I refused to be late. After I met Coach Abbott, we headed over to the baseball field. I was only expecting to announce half the game at the most, but I ended up announcing the entire game. Never give up on your dream, even when times get rough God might have something great right around the corner.
Next entry: A Visit With Rod Bramblett and Auburn Baseball.
I started practicing to be announcer at an early age, I think I was somewhere around the age of five or six…I can’t remember exactly. But one thing I can remember very vividly is my mom yelling from the living room back to my room where I would practice constantly, using sports game day programs. Mostly those of the Atlanta Braves, my favorite sports team of all-time. I grew up watching them as a young kid while my parents were working. My mom, a school teacher and my dad worked on conveyor belts and later went on to start his own sealcoating business before retiring in somewhat recent years, so that he could assist my grandmother who needed him there for her. While I was watching the Braves, I wouldn’t just watch them like a regular fan. In fact, I would study the game and the players. Not just the Braves players but also the opponents players. I would get the programs, sit down and practice for several hours at a time on different microphones trying to find the “perfect” one for my voice. While I would be practicing in my room, mom would be watching tv in the living room. She would come to the back of the house and tell me “Turn that down.” As I was using my brother’s Fender DSP guitar amp as a speaker. If that didn’t work, she would text me the same thing in capital letters. If that didn’t work, she would yell at the top of lungs the same thing. I have always been fascinated with microphones. Often referring to them as “my friend” and I felt sorry for the ones that I didn’t use because I was using other ones. My very first microphone came from the Cracker Barrel gift shop in Evergreen, Alabama in the early to mid 2000s. We stopped at Cracker Barrel to grab a bite to eat on the way to Spanish Fort, Alabama, to visit with my grandparents and spend some time with my grandaddy, (I will write a piece on him at a later date) who was ailing from pancreatic cancer. At one point in my life, I could sit and tell you everything you wanted to know about the Braves franchise, players, their pets etc. and I still can. Who knew that those hours and years of practicing would lead me to where I am today? To my fellow aspiring broadcasters. Heed your mother’s advise and “Turn that down” at least while she’s watching TV.
Next entry: My first trip to Turner Field.