NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
“You always have more time than you think.”
Those were just a few of the words of advice Mike Emrick passed on to Kate Scott before she calls her first NHL game Sunday night when the Blues visit the Blackhawks.
“It’s very calming because things do go very fast regardless of what sport you’re calling,” Scott told NBC Sports this week. “You’re calling a game on television so you always have to pictures to give you a beat or two longer than you might than if you were calling a game on the radio for you to find your footing and make sure you’re correct and say what you’re going to say.”
NBC Sports will utilize an all-female crew to broadcast and produce game coverage of Blues-Blackhawks, coinciding with International Women’s Day and marking the first NHL game broadcast and produced solely by women in the U.S. Scott will handle play-by-play duties, AJ Mleczko will be alongside her as analyst, and Kendall Coyne Schofield will be at ice level “inside the glass.”
Scott, who currently anchors, reports, hosts, and calls game for the Pac-12 Networks as well as NBC Sports Network, has prepared for Sunday’s game with a trio of rehearsals over the last few weeks. As she gets set to take the mic, she remembered some other advice Emrick gave to her: “Trust your preparation. Trust your process.”
We spoke to Scott this week about her preparation, how meaningful calling Sunday’s game will be, and what she wants young girls and boys to take away from seeing an all-female broadcast team.
Q. In calling the rehearsal games, has that been your biggest challenge in training yourself to keep up with the pace of hockey compared to the other sports you call?
SCOTT: “Yeah, 100%. The pace of hockey is unlike anything else, and I call every other sport, except for car racing. There’s plenty of moments [in other sports] which are fast and you have to be on it for 10-15 seconds, but hockey, you’ve got to be on it for minutes at a time because the puck moves so fast. And as opposed to every other television sport, hockey is more of a radio call on television just because it is so fast moving, so a lot of times the folks at home don’t know where the puck is. It’s your job to make sure that they do by calling out who has it and where on the ice it is. That has been the biggest challenge but also the biggest help of getting to do the practice games, was just getting comfortable with that pace. The first game it felt like I was going 100 miles an hour, but the second it slowed down and then last week when we were in St. Louis I felt really good about that one.”
Q. Will the empowerment of this broadcast and what it means completely take over any nerves you might be feeling heading into Sunday night?
SCOTT: “I feel nerves before every single broadcast I do, regardless of what level or where it is just because I place importance on every broadcast that I do because I want it to be the best it can be for all those involved. It may be the biggest shot, the biggest goal, the biggest touchdown of their career, so I consider it my responsibility to do the best job I can in calling that moment for them. I’m sure I’ll be nervous for about the first 10 minutes, but I think I’ll be able to look to my right and see AJ, the gold medalist and an incredible analyst who covers the NHL on the regular; look down and see the spark plug that is Kendall inside the glass, smiling and laughing with all of these guys who have so much respect for her because of the gold medal she won a couple of years ago and the work she’s done in the NHL since. I know [Kathryn Tappen] and Jen [Botterill] are such pros back in the studio, and we can’t forget [director] Lisa [Seltzer] and [producer] Rene [Hatlelid], [producer] Kaitlin [Urka], and all the people who do this every single day. Knowing that I’ve got all of them around me supporting me, I think is going to take the nerves down.
“I’m guessing about halfway through the first period it’s going to start feeling pretty special to get to be a part of this day and this moment and getting to work with such incredible talented pros who live and breathe this sport. I feel pretty honored and humbled and grateful to get to be a part of this game and to get to work with these women for this day.”
Q. Who were your broadcasting heroes?
SCOTT: “Al Michaels was one of them, so it’s fun that he’s such a big voice when it comes to a moment in hockey history. I just love his friendly delivery and his demeanor and how it isn’t about him and that’s really what I try to pride myself on as a play-by-play announcer — get in, say what you need to say, and say it as succinctly as possible and then get out of the way and let your analysts and the game itself shine. Beth Mowins has been a huge role model and mentor of mine over the past couple of years.
“Those are a couple of my big ones and I could list 80 more people that I’ve come to know and respect over the past few years. Those are the voices that I look up to and I’m looking forward to hopefully making them proud this weekend.”
Q. Since you’ve started calling games, how have you see the growth of women in production roles?
SCOTT: “I haven’t seen as many as I would like. It was actually two years ago — and I’ve been doing this for over 15 years now — calling an A-10 women’s basketball game for NBC. It was the first time I walked over to the [production] truck and realized that we had a female producer, a female technical director and I also had a female analyst that day. We just kind of looked around and I said, ‘Have any of you gotten to be a part of a broadcast like this before?’ And we all kind of looked around and said I think this might be the first time. Up to this point, I’ve worked with three female producers in my entire career and one female director.
“Rene is the fourth female producer I’ve worked with and Lisa is going to be just the second female director that I work with. That is one of the big things that I’m hoping I have a moment to highlight on Sunday. That’s something that I tell young kids all the time when I speak to colleges or when I speak on panels, that I know it probably sounds weird coming from someone who is on air encouraging you to look into other aspects of the industry. But I often wonder because I was told earlier in my career that I would make a great producer because I like being in charge and I’m pretty good at multi-tasking. Things have worked out on this side for me, but I often wonder because it sure looks fun getting to be part of the madness that is being in the control room or in the truck during a broadcast. I hope that we can highlight that on Sunday and encourage more young women to get into that aspect of the industry.”
Q. What do you want young girls and women to take away from watching Sunday’s broadcast and seeing you, AJ and Kendall on the call?
SCOTT: “I’m hoping that they take away that they can do this. That calling a game, analyzing a game, directing a game, producing a game, shooting a game, I’m hoping that they turn off the television on Sunday night thinking, ‘Wow, that was never something I thought I could do before, but I think I can do that.’ That’s one of the reasons, in my opinion, that we are still seeing such slow growth when it comes to women calling and analyzing sports because it starts when you’re a kid. You go to most of the college radio and television stations around the country and they’re still predominantly male because you’ve got to see somebody doing what you want to do when you’re a kid and have that seed planted early on to be able to go and then learn the skills early enough in life to then be prepared to call moments and games like Sunday.
“That’s what I’m hoping that the young girls watching will take away. And I’m also hoping that the young boys will take that away, too, that they will see strong, prepared, intelligent, funny women on television calling this sport that they love and they maybe grow up thinking as well, ‘Wow, yeah, women can do this too,’ and that will impact the way that they see their sisters or girlfriends or wives or moms or whoever the women are in their lives and will maybe give them a different perspective too.”
The first-of-its-kind broadcast will be in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, which dates back over 100 years. The broadcast will highlight women who have made their mark on hockey, and sports in general, with the hopes to inspire future generations of women to excel on the ice and behind the scenes.
Sunday night’s coverage will also be surrounded by On Her Turf, NBC Sports’ female empowerment brand. The broadcast will include a number of features highlighting women in hockey during pre-game and intermissions, with custom in-game graphic integration and social coverage.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.