Title IX at 50: Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 21, 2021

From Portage Northern, to Northwestern University, to the smallest of TV markets in the United States to the sidelines of the most recognized sports networks in the world, Lisa Byington has blazed trails all over the Midwest and beyond.

Beginning this October, she will take another historic step for women in sportscasting.

Byington will take the microphone as Bally Sports Wisconsin’s play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Bucks – becoming the first female full-time TV play-by-play announcer for a men’s “major” professional team in the NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL.

Lisa ByingtonThis will be just the latest accomplishment for the former Huskies basketball and soccer all-stater, who went on to play four seasons of basketball and two of soccer at Northwestern. Byington began her broadcast career at WBKB in Alpena – currently the third-smallest TV market in the nation – and then moved on to become a beloved fixture at WLNS in Lansing for nearly a decade. Her next moves took her into regional and then national spotlights, from broadcasting games with FOX Sports and the Big Ten Network, among a number of major entities, to working as a sideline reporter from 2017-19 at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for CBS and Turner Sports. She also was FOX’s play-by-play voice for the 2019 Women’s World Cup and for women’s and men’s soccer coverage on NBC Sports during this summer’s Olympics. She has done play-by-play for WNBA and NBA games, and in March, Byington also became the first female play-by-play voice at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament when she called games for CBS and Turner.

Byington was a finalist for the Miss Basketball Award as a Portage Northern senior in 1993, and according to the Detroit Free Press’ “All-State Basketball Team” report was set to graduate the following spring with 28 school records in hoops, including for 1,392 career points, 384 career assists and 379 career steals. She also made the Class A all-state girls soccer team as a senior after earning honorable mention as a junior. At Northwestern, she was a three-time Big Ten all-academic selection in basketball and two-time academic all-Big Ten pick in soccer.

Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard

Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights

Sept. 14: Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: 
Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read

PHOTOS courtesy of Lisa Byington and Portage Northern’s athletic department.

Be the Referee: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors

By Sam Davis
MHSAA Officials Coordinator

November 1, 2022

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen

A soccer match is about to start between two teams – one wearing road white uniforms and one wearing its home blues. It’s pretty easy to spot the referee in the middle of the field wearing a bright yellow referee jersey.

But what if the home team is nicknamed the Yellow Jackets and they are also wearing bright yellow jerseys?

Soccer officials come prepared. They have a number of different colored jerseys, so they can wear something that contrasts with both teams. While yellow is the default color, they can very easily change into a distinctive uniform if needed – as red, blue, green and black are also acceptable colors. They may even choose to wear a color different from what the goalkeepers are wearing. The last thing a referee wants is to be mistaken for a player on the field.

Previous Editions:

Oct. 18: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 11: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen