Many children grow up dreaming about being just like their sports heroes. Elyria Catholic senior Jake Hromada grew up dreaming about being just like the people that talk about those heroes.
“Listening to Tom Hamilton growing up, along with Joe Tait and Jim Donovan,” Hromada said when asked what made him want to get into sports broadcasting. “Obviously we didn’t have the greatest sports teams in Cleveland, but we have the best announcers around. I firmly believe that.
“Listening to them really made me want to become a play-by-play sports broadcaster.
“In my backyard I would play baseball by myself … throwing the baseball up in the air and hitting it. I would create my own games in my mind and broadcast them to myself. So I guess I’ve been doing this all my life, technically.”
Heading to high school, Hromada knew what he wanted to do. Even before starting at Elyria Catholic he set out on his chosen path.
“I eventually went to sports broadcasting camp in Boston before high school, and that was what really made me believe I can do this,” he said. “It was a lot of fun and gave me some great advantages in learning how to do the job.”
When he got to Elyria Catholic, Hromada didn’t sit back and wait for an opportunity to fall into his lap … he put himself on the path to fulfilling his dreams. Now he broadcasts Panthers varsity athletics on a regular basis, covering everything from football to track.
His calls can be heard on HighSchoolCube.com under the “Elyria Catholic” heading.
He started small, but it didn’t take long for things to grow. After sending an email to former Elyria Catholic athletic director Mike Wisnor outlining what he wanted to do, Hromada was on his way.
“Sophomore year I started out on the announcements, writing my own stuff,” he said. “I would talk about the football and basketball team … taking my own stats and that kind of stuff. Junior year I expanded to public address announcing for the volleyball team while still doing the morning sports report in the announcements.”
He eventually started broadcasting Elyria Catholic varsity athletics online through a simple Internet connection. As things progressed, Hromada got better equipment.
“I started with just an iPhone and a headset,” he said. “Now I have a mixer, iPod and all this equipment that I got from our tech guy in the drama department. It’s a classmate of mine — Brendan Dillon — his dad decided to lend me everything and taught me the ropes with how to work a mixer and the adaptor with my phone.”
The equipment was not the only thing that got better.
“It was bad, really bad,” Hromada said of his first broadcast. “It’s strange how I’ve gotten better in just one year and I actually prepare a lot differently now than I did back then. The first football scrimmage I broadcast was kind of rough.”
The broadcasts of Panthers athletics has been well-received by Elyria Catholic students and graduates.
“I’ve had people from California, Texas — all EC alums — that have contacted me about my broadcasts and the students have been great,” Hromada said. “The coaches have also been great. Sometimes I can get annoying, asking for stats and stuff, but they’ve been really nice. They’ve let me travel with the teams and interact with the kids.”
Even though he hasn’t even started college, Hromada has met some of the key sports broadcasting figures in the Cleveland market and nationally. He once shadowed 1986 Elyria Catholic graduate Bob Frantz during his evening show at WTAM.
Frantz was impressed with what he saw.
“The thing that impresses me most about Jake is his fearlessness … his confidence in himself,” Frantz said. “He’s set a lofty goal and absolutely intends to achieve it. Most kids his age would sit around and wait for someone to offer them an opportunity to gain experience, but Jake went out and created his own. I love that attitude and that drive.”
An online listener set up another big learning opportunity for Hromada.
“One alumni, who graduated in the 1950s named John Gennon, actually contacted me and wanted to meet me,” Hromada said. “He was nice and actually ended up surprising me with a visit with Don Criqui with Notre Dame football. I actually got to go to South Bend, meet him and attend a Notre Dame game in the press box. That was really nice.”
Panthers football coach Mike Polavacik thinks Hromada has been a big benefit to the EC athletic department.
“Jake has greatly impacted our football community,” Polavacik said. “His broadcasts let, literally, thousands of fans see us play. Alums from across the country, even my uncle in Portland, Ore., were able to watch Panther football because of his efforts. He will be missed when he moves on to college at Ohio University and I, personally, will miss him a great deal. He’s an exceptional young man.”
With a month to go until graduation, Hromada is looking forward to getting to Ohio University, where he plans to broadcast Ohio Bobcats athletics. He has some advice for students that have any kind of dream for the future.
“My advice would be to take the initiative,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people have looked at and respect me for. I’m not the only person in Lorain County that does this, there’s a kid at Lorain High that broadcasts the games, too.
“It’s hard to put yourself out there these days, but you eventually have to do it. You have to gain the experience. Because of what I’ve done a lot of people have told me I have an advantage going into college. If you start your sophomore year, like I did, you have a lot of experience going into college. That puts you ahead of the game.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.