The voice is feeling good.
“Oh, yeah,” Mark Schuermann confirmed on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter, and if you’ve listened to the episode and just those two words alone, you can confirm it as well.
The voice of the AVP is ready to go.
In eight days, the AVP season will begin. Which means that in eight days, listeners, fans, and viewers will be treated to the majestic baritone of Mark Schuermann. To describe Schuermann as the emcee of the AVP would be a great disservice to both Schuermann and the AVP. He’s far more than that.
He’s the emcee, yes. But he’s also an entertainer. A man of the people. A volley nerd who just so happens to be equipped with a magnificent voice, a natural knack for commentating, and a microphone that will keep all on stadium court entertained, enthralled, amused and sometimes — as was the case at the AVP banquet, when he heard the news of John Mayer’s retirement — downright emotional.
That was the idea, anyway: He wanted to call the matches like the fan he was. So you’ll hear him react like a fan – “What just happened?!” Say things fans say – “Taylor Crabb, you are ridiculous!” And he’ll do it amongst the fans themselves. Inexhaustible. Indefatigable. Ever-enthusiastic.
“You don’t want to distract from what’s going on,” he said. “You want to enhance what’s going on.”
It’s largely self-taught, too, his one-with-the-fan style of calling matches. At Cal State Northridge, after experimenting with majoring in math – “I like math, but nobody wants to do that much math,” he said – and anatomy, Schuermann enrolled in a broadcast journalism class. As it can often go with epiphanies, “I knew,” he said, “in the first three minutes that ‘Yes, this is what I want to do.’”
A classroom, though, can only take you so far. Much of journalism, whether it be print or broadcast or entertainment, is experimentation. Finding what works for you. Discovering your own voice and style.
It’s for that reason that Schuermann is glad he went to Northridge over USC, which offers one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the country. The advantage CSUN held over USC? The fact that, while CSUN has a good athletics program, it isn’t the nexus of all things Los Angeles sports. It didn’t have national radio and television programs at every event. That gap is what allowed Schuermann to create his own opportunities, such as when he began calling CSUN indoor matches.
“Still some of the most fun I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’m not sure I would have been able to do that at the well-oiled machine that is USC. CSUN said ‘Oh, jeez, this kid wants to put on a show? Great! Let’s do it!’” It’s such a practical major. The more you’re willing to do something, the more they’ll get behind you.”
So before he became the voice of the AVP, Mark Schuermann was the voice of all things CSUN: water polo, soccer, basketball, volleyball, “probably ten different sports,” he said, a list that would later include field hockey.
“I still,” he said, laughing, “know nothing about field hockey.”
From there, the branches of networking and talent and willingness to create began to intertwine. While his peers took jobs in smaller markets, Schuermann stayed in the Los Angeles area, taking a menagerie of jobs calling sports at Harvard Westlake, a sports powerhouse in Los Angeles, calling USA Volleyball matches, calling professional indoor matches.
One such match took him to a World League event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“That was a big moment for me,” Schuermann said. “When I got to those matches, something I never planned, something I never expected to happen – it was the second day of matches, and I was sort of bored. I was announcing, somebody else was running the music, I wasn’t running the music, I was like ‘Yeah, this is volleyball, I’m calling the game, but what else can I do?’ So I turned around to my supervisor and I was like ‘Hey, I know all the players’ names, I have a wireless mic, can I go into the crowd?’ And she’s like ‘Yeah, sure, whatever.’ So I went into the crowd and announced the rest of the match that day in the crowd, and it was so much fun. That’s when I realized ‘I really want to do this. I really want to get into entertainment.’ I’d never seen anybody do this. I might be onto something here.”
And thus Broadcast Mark came into his own.
Now, in eight days, should you be in the stands, or on a side court in Huntington, you’ll find him right there with you. The only difference is that he has a mic, his reactions are heard all over the beach, and, well, he’s probably having more fun.
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