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

Oct. 4: Ruby Whitehorn's Story - Read
Sept. 27:
Eliana Bommarito's Story - Read
Sept. 20: Anna Tracey's Story - Read
Sept. 13:
Lola Korpi's Story - Read
Sept. 6:
Meah Bajt's Story - Read
Aug. 30: 
Morgan Brunner's Story - Read
Aug. 23:
Ava Brizard's Story - Read
Aug. 16:
Paige Miller's Story - Read
Aug. 9:
Gracie Olsen's Story - Read
Aug. 2:
Maddy Stern's Story - Read
July 26:
Reese Miller's Story - Read
July 19:
Macy Irelan's Story - Read
July 12:
Bridget Boczar's Story - Read
July 5:
Ella Boose's Story - Read
June 28:
Kaila Jackson's Story - Read
June 23: 
We Celebrate Our Past, We Look Forward to Our Future - Read
June 21: Assistant Directors Have Been Difference Makers - Read
June 14: 
Girls Lacrosse Finals Officials Set Empowering Example - Read
June 7: 
From Gymnastics to Wrestling, Girls Opportunities Continue to Grow - Read
May 31: 
Mumford Sprinter's Magnificent 2006 Final Remains Unmatched - Read
May 24: Scane, Whiteside Alone on 400-Goal, 500-Point Girls Lacrosse Lists - Read
May 17: Over 8 Days in 1988, Pair of Champs Set No. 1 Singles Standard - Read
May 10: 
Portage Central's Tarpley Scores as State's Superstar, U.S. Soccer Hero - Read
May 3: 
Prychitko 'Legend In Her Own Time,' Legend for All Time - Read
April 26: 
Braddock vs. Verdun Still Striding Among All-Time Sprint Matchups - Read
April 19: 
Holmes' Strikeout Record Rarely Approached, May Be Unbreakable - Read
April 12: 
Anticipation High as 45,000 Girls Return to Spring Sports - Read
April 5: 
Regina's Laffey Retiring as Definition of Legendary - Read
March 29: 
Edison's Whitehorn named 2022 Miss Basketball - Read
March 22: 
Carney-Nadeau Sets Girls Hoops Standard with 78-Win Streak - Read
March 15: 
Binder Among Voices Telling Our Story on MHSAA Network - Read
March 8: 
29 Years, Thousands of Cheers - Read
March 1: 
Kearsley Rolls On Among Girls Bowling's Early Successes - Read
Feb. 22: Marquette Ties Record for Swim & Dive Finals Success - Read
Feb. 15: Jaeger's 2004 Winter Run Created Lasting Connection - Read
Feb. 8: Marian's Cicerone to Finish Among All-Time Elite - Read
Feb. 1: WISL Award Honors Builders of State's Girls Sports Tradition - Read
Jan. 25: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow - Read
Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: 
Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: 
Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: 
Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: 
Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: 
Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: 
Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: 
Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
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.