Elise Woodward takes on the challenge as temporary UW football announcer

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Elise Woodward had done just about everything in her long career in sports broadcasting, but she had never been a football match presenter.

The former UW women’s basketball captain can now verify that, too.

That’s because Woodward briefly stepped away from her post as a secondary UW radio reporter – a job she’s had nearly 20 years – to complete last Saturday and this Saturday for UW radio broadcaster Tony Castricone, whose the woman has recently given birth. to their son.

“It was my first time doing play-by-play on the radio and the first time I played play-by-play football,” said Woodward, the longtime Storm analyst who makes plays. play-by-play ads for basketball and other non-football sports for the Pac-12 networks. “It was one of the biggest challenges of my career.”

The challenge that came after what she called a “weeklong whirlwind” made things more difficult. Castricone asked her on November 10 if she would replace him on both Saturdays: November 13 and 20. Here’s what she was doing prior to this conversation:

  • Wednesday November 3: Studio work for ROOT Sports during the Portland Trail Blazers game.
  • Friday, November 5: Play-by-play announcer in Pullman for UW-Washington State women’s football.
  • Saturday, November 6: Secondary reporter for UW-Oregon football.
  • Sunday: November 7: play-by-play announcer for UW-Arizona volleyball.
  • Tuesday, November 9: play-by-play announcer for UW-Northern Arizona men’s basketball.

“It’s been a lightning week, for sure,” said Woodward, 46, who began his broadcasting career shortly after graduating from Washington in 1997. But there was no hesitation in agree to replace Castricone.

That said, she had to quickly step up a gear, bracing for the big challenge a few days away from her.

“It’s been long days of preparation for this, for sure,” said Woodward.

The much higher number of players in a football match compared to other sports makes it more difficult for a broadcaster.

“There are 22 starters, all the special team players, then all the players who are going to rotate – so the football board that you have (to refer to) is this huge thing, and you have to have all these names and numbers. memorized, ”said Woodward. “For Washington it was very easy because I know their roster very well, but for Arizona State it was like an open book test. But I learned that on the radio there is no time at all to look down (on the board). It must therefore be memorized. It is definitely a challenge.

But she loved to do it.

“It was a blast,” she said. “I had a ton of adrenaline. As an athlete you understand that, but other than that it’s really hard to get the adrenaline pumping – you have to be on point and not lose your focus. It was great fun to be connected… it was a surreal experience.

Woodward didn’t sound on the show like someone doing play-by-play football for the first time. His years of experience and extensive preparatory work have come to the fore.

Woodward has long been a trailblazer for women announcers, starting her career when there were few women in the business, and now she is the first woman to do play-by-play radio for Washington football. .

“It means something to me,” said Woodward. “When I was younger, I don’t think I ever heard of a woman playing play-by-play. I didn’t even know it was a possibility. This is an opportunity I was really excited for, but at the same time I want to be judged by, “How good are you at presenter?” And nothing to do with anything else.

“It’s that fine line where I’m grateful for the opportunity, but I want to make sure I’m successful so that the other women behind me who want to do this get this opportunity. If you are the first to do something and you don’t do it right, then everyone below you is judged by what you have done. If I fuck up, maybe someone else won’t get the chance. I certainly hope I’m judged on my quality, and if that opens up opportunities for other women, that’s an absolute bonus.

Woodward said she was happy with how her first game went, “and I didn’t have any big hiccups.” A difficult self-criticism, she laments that on one piece, she was not sure through her binoculars if the UW Rome Odunze receiver was approaching.

“I try not to hammer myself in, but I’m a perfectionist and I know there is a ton of things I can do better,” she said. “I felt good, but there is so much more meat on the bone to perfect a profession. I’m a long way from Tony or (longtime UW announcer) Bob (Rondeau). But even Bob, who was the best of the best, if he missed a call he would become so irritated.

“And that’s the norm. If you’re trying to keep up with Tony and Bob, you better bring your A game. I was fine on my first. But as with everything, with experience, it is better to get better and better.

Rondeau said he listened to Woodward for the first half and most of the third quarter and texted him during that time.

“She did well,” Rondeau said. “The opportunity was well deserved and she took it and was thrilled with it. It’s another addition to an increasingly busy resume for her. She showed her versatility and she certainly won a hit.

Woodward looks forward to that chance on Saturday when the Huskies play in Colorado. Once again, she juggles prep work and other duties: she was a radio analyst for the UW women’s basketball game on Sunday and will be an analyst at the UW men’s basketball game on Thursday.

But there is no doubt that she will be ready.

“Just in terms of logistics, I will be more comfortable,” she said. “I just know the cadence and the rhythm. I felt that at halftime, I could finally settle in last week and take my bearings a bit. … Hopefully when I kick off in (Colorado) I will already have my bearings and I can just play ball.

Rondeau believes this will be the case.

“I can’t wait to listen to Saturday and I think she will be exponentially better after having this first game experience,” he said.


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