Ford Field Trip Gives Students Taste of Football Finals Broadcasting

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

December 7, 2021

DETROIT – An hour before kickoff of the first game of 11-Player Football Finals weekend – the Division 8 championship decider between Hudson and Beal City – Bally Sports Detroit announcers Evan Stockton and Rob Rubick were busy preparing to call the action from the television booth on the third level of Ford Field.

Four levels above them, in the press box, a group of prospective broadcasters were touring the facilities. The high school students had spent the Fall sports season streaming games to the NFHS Network and now were learning about a career in broadcasting from Eric Vandefifer, a Montrose High grad currently serving as the radio voice of Saginaw Valley State University basketball and as a contributor to a variety of high school broadcast channels including the MHSAA Network.

Seven years ago, Vandefifer was in a similar situation. He was part of a field trip to Ford Field for the Finals that helped him realize sports broadcasting was a career he wanted to pursue. Those field trips were headed by Tom Skinner and Thom Lengyel, who became mentors to Vandefifer. As a high school junior in 2017, Vandefifer was named Best Student Broadcaster nationally by the NFHS Network.

Mount Pleasant SBPWith Tom Skinner now deceased and Thom Lengyel retired from the broadcast business, I just felt like I had to continue this and their legacy,” Vandefifer said. “It was important to me to keep it going because when I was in school, it was something I looked forward to.”

Nearly 50 students from Lowell, Montrose, Lake Orion, Mount Pleasant and Ann Arbor Greenhills high schools made the Nov. 26-27 trip to Ford Field. They were able to film highlights, interview players, practice announcing the games, meet other members of the press and more. For Vandefifer, giving back to students who are in the position he once was is very rewarding.

We had the ability to feel like real media members for a day. I wanted to be able to give other students that same opportunity,” Vandefifer said. “Seeing kids who have a love for sportscasting and that drive to get better gives me real hope for the next generation in this business.”  

And after the field trips were done each day, Vandefifer put his headphones on, got behind the microphone and called the two afternoon games for the MHSAA Championship Network.

PHOTOS (Top) Eighth grader Sam Belill, left, and freshman Owen Leitelt from Montrose practice calling a game from the Ford Field press box. (Middle) Mount Pleasant make a stop at the press conference room. (Photos provided by the Montrose and Mount Pleasant School Broadcast Programs.)

Today in the MHSAA: 5/13/24

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 13, 2024

1. TRACK & FIELD Zeeland East’s girls – ranked No. 5 in Lower Peninsula Division 1 – won their seventh straight Ottawa-Kent Conference Green championship meet title, and LPD1 No. 3 Zeeland West won on the boys side – Holland Sentinel Girls | Boys |

2. TRACK & FIELD The LPD1 No. 4 Traverse City West girls extended their Big North Conference championship meet streak to three, while Central’s boys ended West’s three-year title run – Traverse City Record-Eagle |

3. BASEBALL Division 1 top-ranked Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice shut out Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 3-0 in the Catholic High School League Bishop championship game – Oakland Press

4. BOYS LACROSSE Temperance Bedford clinched a share of its first Southeastern Conference Red title in this sport with a 16-6 win over Ann Arbor Huron – Monroe News

5. TRACK & FIELD The Corunna boys and Owosso girls repeated as Flint Metro League Stars meet champions, and the Linden girls and Fenton boys won in the Stripes – Owosso Argus-Press |

6. TRACK & FIELD Sturgis swept Wolverine Conference championship meet wins – Sturgis Journal |

7. TRACK & FIELD The Freeland girls and Saginaw Heritage boys won Korf/Schultz Saginaw County Invitational team titles – Saginaw News |

8. TRACK & FIELD Bay City Western swept Bay County championships, the boys for the 15th-straight season and the girls for the fifth consecutive – Bay City Times |

9. GIRLS LACROSSE Novi defeated Flint Powers Catholic 16-6 as the Wildcats’ Ally Katinas scored her 100th goal this season and 200th of her career – Oakland Press

10. TRACK & FIELD The LPD2 No. 5 Hudsonville Unity Christian girls and No. 2 Hamilton boys won O-K Blue meet titles, while the LPD1 top-ranked East Kentwood girls and No. 2 Rockford boys won in the O-K Red – Holland Sentinel | Blue | Red

Also of note …

TRACK & FIELD Northville swept the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship meet titles – Livingston Daily Press & Argus |

TRACK & FIELD The Hart girls and North Muskegon boys won West Michigan Conference Rivers championship meets – Ludington Daily News |

TRACK & FIELD The Ludington girls and LPD2 No. 7  Whitehall boys won in the WMC Lakes – Ludington Daily News |