As a junior sport studies major at St. Bonaventure University, Alec Walt never dreamed he would get to meet Andrew Nicholson, ’12.
Nicholson, the physics major taken in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, is the second player in St. Bonaventure University history to be named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. He led the Bonnies to the 2012 Atlantic 10 Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“I don’t even remember the whole conversation because I was so excited to see him,” said Walt, who’s from Longmeadow, Mass. “I shook his hand and his hand swallowed mine.” (Not surprising: Nicholson had the largest hands at the NBA Draft Combine.)
Walt said Nicholson became really excited when he heard he was talking to a fellow Bonnie. His face brightened up as he and Walt discussed how cool Bonaventure is, Walt said.
Walt was able to meet Nicholson after an Orlando game Nov. 7 through a professional opportunity with the Philadelphia 76ers. About a year ago, 76ers play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff messaged Walt on LinkedIn and asked him about his career aspirations.
“He said he was impressed [with my LinkedIn profile],” said Walt, whose concentration in sport studies is communications. “He said he had never met a sophomore who had done so much, and he asked for a sound bite.”
Walt is an intern at 95.7 WPIG in Olean. He works there Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., where he conducts a live sports broadcast at 8:30. Walt is also the color announcer for Olean basketball and football and Bonnies baseball for AM ESPN Radio 1450 The Huddle, the sister station of WPIG.
A brief phone interview later, Walt had secured Zumoff as his broadcast coach. Walt said he still sends Zumoff his work and talks to him at least once a week. Zumoff also analyzes Walt’s game tapes.
“[Zumoff] is my coach, teaching me, helping me set up my portfolio, giving me advice on how to make my broadcasts better and how to improve my writing and vocab for games,” Walt said.
Walt said the opportunity allows him to attend any 76ers game he wants.
“I absolutely love going down there,” Walt said. “[Zumoff] gives me a press pass for the 76ers so I have access to the locker rooms and press conferences.”
Walt said he has been to two 76ers games and one Philadelphia Union MLS soccer game; Zumoff announces party-time for the Union. Walt shadowed Zumoff at all three games, and at the soccer game, Walt fed Zumoff statistics while sitting next to him in the press box.
Walt said the professional opportunity will last until he feels he doesn’t need a broadcast coach anymore.
Zumoff, who chooses to help students because he was once helped by a broadcasting professional, is a good connection because he knows every announcer in the NBA, Walt said.
“Zumoff has taught me that no matter how famous or well-known I get, I just have to be confident and a good person,” Walt said. “He walks into a room and everyone erupts. He’s the center of attention. I’m learning that I need to be confident, a good person, love being around everyone and love the job I have.”
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