Sheridan Deals with the Ups and Downs of Working in Play-by-Play

Vermont native handling challenges of business in the age of COVID-19
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 7:14 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - South Burlington native Maura Sheridan didn't plan on becoming a play-by-play broadcaster when she enrolled in the journalism school at Syracuse University in the Fall of 2014.

“I thought I was going to be in news,” she said. “I thought I was going to be like a local anchor. Maybe Erin Andrews, that was kind of the dream I was keeping secretly to myself.”

But because she had been a three-sport star in high school at Rice, Sheridan had some institutional knowledge that set her down a different path.

“I think it really helped me because when I got to Syracuse, nobody knew field hockey and nobody knew women’s lacrosse,” Sheridan said. “And that’s how I actually really broke into the business, as an analyst and a sideline reporter for women’s sports.”

There’s another sport Sheridan has a lot of first-hand experience with. As a high school hooper, she helped the Green Knights make it all the way to the state finals at Patrick Gym. It’s that knowledge of the game, and the teams that play there, that have helped her shutdown would be critics.

“I am really lucky here at UVM in that I am pretty respected,” Sheridan said. “I think that a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m from here and if you’re going to test me on my knowledge of UVM basketball, probably going to beat most people on it.”

But during the college basketball offseason, Sheridan plies her trade in Minor League Baseball. She says she’s experienced a little more pushback as one of just a handful of women calling games in America’s Pastime.

It’s a very traditional sport, and the people that love it tend to be a bit more traditional,” Sheridan said. “I’ve definitely had some not so great experiences when calling baseball. Some people do not want you there, some people will make that known, some people are creepy and it’s really unfortunate. I’m sick of the narrative that we have to go through this and this is just part of the job because it’s not.”

Despite that, Sheridan has thrived in the sport. This Winter, she was hired by the Lynchburg Hillcats, becoming the first female broadcaster in the clubs’ nearly 130-year history. But as you probably could have guessed, she’s still waiting to call her first game for the team after COVID wiped out the entire 2020 season.

“Got a call from Lynchburg, basically they said, ‘Don’t leave yet, you’ll come in like two weeks,’” Sheridan said. “They kept pushing that start date back. And I think we all knew it was gonna happen. It’s been hard though, you know, I’ve really had to look inside and consider who I am without my career. I am, as I said, lucky that my friends are here, I have my family. It’s not the perfect situation, but at this point, what am I gonna do, I can’t change the world.”

This Summer, Sheridan did find another way to get her reps in, calling games for the Albany Athletics of New York’s Independent Collegiate Baseball League.

“It’s been great, I think my first game I forgot how baseball worked, but once I got into it, I was like, ‘Oh I remember why I love this,’” she said. “I have a little more purpose now because even if it’s not a forever gig, it’s great to exercise those muscles.”

As for any other girls and women looking to break into the industry, Sheridan has some advice.

“Get every opportunity that you can,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to call a D-III field hockey game, don’t be afraid to call D-II volleyball. Approach every game like it does matter, have fun with it, and just reach out to other women in this industry. I think we really just all want to help each other.”

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