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Karl Lindholm: Don't call Bruce Bosley the voice of the Panthers

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Posted on May 23, 2019 |
By Karl Lindholm



Karl Lindholm col Bruce Bosely.jpg
BRUCE BOSLEY ANNOUNCES Middlebury College sports events every year. Here he is boning up on the rosters in the booth at Kohn Field before a Panther women’s lacrosse game May 4. Photo by Karl Lindholm

He’s been to 84 different sporting events at Middlebury College, 11 different teams — that’s this year alone!

You probably won’t recognize him, or even see him. He doesn’t cheer for either side (but he has deep ties to Middlebury). Yet he is the lifeline to games for many of the college’s most ardent rooters, parents and alumni who follow the teams, often from great distances.

He’s Bruce Bosley, the announcer Middlebury games online with NSN (Northeast Sports Network).

Bruce does the webcasts for Middlebury baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, and field hockey. He would do football and men’s hockey but those games conflict with other broadcast duties (John Lawrence does those games for NSN, Bruce explains, “and he’s really good”).

Unlike many in the broadcasting world, Bruce is self-effacing. He does not mention his name at the beginning and end of his broadcast (nor in the middle). He says, “my broadcasts are never about me — they are about the teams, student-athletes and coaches. I mention their names, not mine.”

He means it. When I suggested that he was “the Voice of the Panthers,” he demurred. “No, that’s Dave Sears. He was the Voice of the Panthers.” Sears was a very popular fellow about town who was the PA voice of Middlebury men’s ice hockey for 25 years. He died at age 56 in 2015.

I marvel at Bruce’s versatility and asked if there was a long learning curve for him in volleyball, not a sport widely played in Vermont. He shrugged, “it’s either in — or it’s out.” The soul of his broadcasts is in the information he provides about the players and the teams — and other sporting insights that pop into his head from pretty much a lifetime in sports.

Volleyball is a women’s sport at Middlebury, no men’s team. He enjoys doing women’s and men’s sports equally (his daughter was an athlete at South Burlington High). “The enthusiasm of the women athletes is really great. In volleyball, they celebrate every point!”

He noted how many of the volleyball players for Middlebury and other NESCAC teams were from California, so he acknowledges the time difference for the 7 p.m. broadcasts, and opens with “Welcome to Happy Hour here at Pepin Gym.”

“As a parent who sends my daughter to school 1,500 miles away (Marquette University in Milwaukee),” Bruce says, “I am aware that the internet has changed everything: parents get to watch their kids play.”

Nancy Erickson, mother of Rob ’18 a pitcher for the Panthers, wrote from Texas: “Jonathan (Rob’s dad) and I both appreciate Bruce Bosley. He has a great sense of timing, he knows when to add commentary and when to let the game play out.”

That’s true. Bruce is a master of the medium. He knows he’s not a radio play-by-play broadcaster: people are watching the action with him, so he identifies players and adds detail and perspective.

“I also appreciate that he calls the game with the Midd fans and the visitor fans in mind,” Nancy Erickson goes on to say. “He is quick to recognize a great play by either team and makes an effort to keep the game exciting for both sides of his audience.”

Another parent, Rich Wolfin, father of Jake ’13, a Panther basketball stalwart, waxes admiringly of Bruce’s work: “Bruce is smooth, concise and fair, and never a homer. I have a college roommate who has been a sportscaster since 1980, so I feel like I have become a fair critic of others who do it.

“Simply put, I would put Bruce up there with any play-by-play man I have heard do TV basketball. Plus, he’s is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.”

One more: Martha Punderson Graf, mother of Sam Graf ’19, baseball player, wrote from Colorado: “The discovery of live-streaming games to remote parents was an exciting moment for me. I thought I’d probably never see Sam play a college game when he decided to go to Middlebury. It was a wonderful day when I learned I could watch and listen in.”

Bruce is a Vermonter. Raised in Burlington, he attended Burlington High School, then the University of Vermont. He has ties to Addison County — his mother grew up in Middlebury on Court Street.

He was in sales for 17 years before he joined the athletic department at his alma mater as Assistant Sports Information Director in charge of men’s basketball, men’s soccer, and baseball. He served in that role for 13 years.

He recalled UVM’s first foray into March Madness in 2003. “We played Arizona in Salt Lake City and Dick Enberg, Matt Goukas, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were doing the game, so I had to provide them with information. That was fun.”

He remembers keenly when Middlebury basketball coach Jeff Brown played for UVM. The Catamounts’ three overtime win in 1981 against Boston University, coached by Rick Pitino, is a particularly vivid memory. “Jeff played the whole 55 minutes!”

Bruce started working Middlebury games in 2010 when Middlebury Director of Athletic Communications Brad Nadeau brought him aboard when the games were being handled “in-house,” before NSN came along to produce the webcasts.

“Many broadcasters do their homework and come prepared to do a game,” says Nadeau, “but Bruce goes beyond that. He makes the broadcasts personal — finding connections or interesting facts between the coaches, players and parents. Our constituents love the job he does.”

There is no show-off in Bruce, no signature call, no false enthusiasm: he calls all that “crap,” a very Vermont attitude. He admires greatly Mike Gorman, the Celtics TV announcer: “He’s the best. No rants, he just tells the story.” He likes Gorman’s characteristic “Got it!” to indicate a made hoop, and uses it.

Joe Castiglione, the Red Sox radio voice, is another favorite. “He’s so well-prepared. I send Joe tidbits now and then, and he uses them! He pumps up the Wiffle Ball Tournament and I’m grateful for that.“

While Bruce works nearly 200 events a year (“that’s a lot of National Anthems!”) the highlight of his year is the Travis Roy Foundation Wiffle Ball Tournament, a grand two-day event at Pat O’Connor’s Little Fenway and Little Wrigley, facsimiles of those two iconic ballparks in the town of Essex. Bruce contributes his time.

Travis Roy was a hockey player injured in in his first game for Boston University, paralyzed from the neck down. His parents are both UVM alums with close connections to Vermont. Bruce says, “I broadcast over 30 Wiffle ball games over two days. In 18 years, we have raised over $5 million — $600,000 just last year. It’s great!”

That’s not all. Bruce is the official scorer at the Vermont Lake Monsters (minor league baseball); that’s 40 games in a summer. He is the director of the Vermont State Baseball Coaches Association, which oversees the Twin State Baseball Classic (Vermont vs. New Hampshire). He’s the vice-chair of the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. And, oh yes, he also has season tickets to the Red Sox and catches about a dozen Sox games every season (and all the playoff games when they make the post-season): “It’s the one place where I can be a fan.”

A favorite Middlebury game for Bruce was the dramatic last-second one point NCAA tournament win in men’s hoop against Ithaca College in 2013. The whole game was exciting, but one aspect in particular thrilled Bruce. “Eli Maravich was on the Ithaca team,” he explains, “the nephew of legendary Pistol Pete Maravich, so it was cool for me to say, ‘Maravich pulls up for a three . . . Got it!’”

Longtime Sports Illustrated writer and Bosley friend and admirer Alex Wolff describes Bruce’s knowledge of sports as “encyclopedic.”

“Bruce knows Vermont cold — and every little strand that radiates out from Vermont. He’s fearless. He’s ‘comfortable,’” Alex goes on: “He knows sport and takes it seriously. He’s been around. He never gets a name wrong, even the most exotically named players.

“Webcasting is a perfect medium for him.”

Bruce Bosley: Not the Voice of the Panthers maybe, but a treasure for legions of the most engaged Middlebury sports fans.

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