Mike McGinnis: The Vibrant Voice of Pace Athletics


Pace play-by-play broadcaster, Mike McGinnis (Left), alongside color commentator Chris DeAngelo (Right) during a Pace Football game. Photo Courtesy of Mike McGinnis.

Kwadar Ray, Managing Editor

Pace Athletics play-by-play broadcaster Mike McGinnis was shocked last year when the parent of a student came to him during halftime of a basketball game and asked for an autograph.

No, McGinnis did not—as some of his family and friends suspected—pay the person to ask for the request. It was just one of the perks of being a sports broadcaster– a profession McGinnis was destined to have.

“I have always wanted to get into broadcasting since I was about eight years old,” McGinnis said.

As a child, McGinnis entertained himself as most young sports fans do: playing video game franchises such as NHL, NBA Live, MLB, and Madden NFL on his PlayStation. However, unlike other kids, McGinnis would mute the volume of the games and do the play-by-play broadcasting himself as practice for the future.

Despite McGinnis being poised for the broadcasting career since childhood, he soon realized finding success in the business was no cakewalk.

“For anybody that tries to get into broadcasting, you need to be very thick skinned,” he said. “I had many mentors who honed me in pretty good, and because of them, I did receive a lot of opportunities. They were kind of like how you see in the marines, but for broadcasters. They would kind of break you down, but make you very prepared for anything that was coming ahead.”

After a year as the play-by-play commentator for Monroe College basketball, McGinnis arrived at Pace in 2011.

“It’s fantastic being at Pace,” he said. “Having the alumni come in, the Athletics Hall of Fame winners, the senior awards, and having a chance to know the academic side has been cool. I truly love it. I’ve been here for seven seasons, so I was here for the original football stadium and the original facility, and to see how it’s built up since then has been great.”

It is far from difficult to find McGinnis at basketball or football games. He stands up in the booth, as excited as anyone throughout the events.

“[Pace Athletics Director] Mark Brown has teased me before about walking back and forth with the football team, and going up and down the court with basketball teams,” McGinnis said. “I get very into it. I hoot and holler. When the players go crazy and the fans get into it, I get into it too.”

In spite of the game day antics he’s teased about, McGinnis carries the important responsibility as the voice of Pace Athletics by telling the story of a game as it plays out to the hundreds listening.

“If you’re representing a specific team, I think it’s important to make the viewers and the fans of that team feel very comfortable like they’re just in their living rooms,” he said. “You need that intimacy with that unseen audience as if you’re an old friend of theirs.”

McGinnis also makes the accomplishments and tireless work of Pace athletes be known to the viewers. He is not in the camp of heavily criticizing the student-athletes while calling the game.

“Some sports talk hosts will say ‘this guy stinks and this guy can’t do that,’ and they talk about it like it’s a scientific fact, but you can tell it comes from someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to play through injuries or a sickness in the family,” he said. “One thing a lot people people don’t grasp with players is that you don’t know what’s going on outside that playing field.”

“They’re human beings in the end and I think today, people see them as robots,” McGinnis said. “Every player or coach I’ve ever worked with in the past or present, I have a great relationship with because to a degree, I know how tough it is. I’m never going to sit there and say, ‘this wasn’t a good decision,’ or ‘this guy can’t do this,’ because I know I can’t do that. It takes a special type of person to put yourself out there where you are going make mistakes.”

Preparation is the most important aspect of McGinnis’ job. With no enhanced preparation, it would be impossible to properly call games and give the audience a portrait of what is happening on the court or playing field.

“I will completely admit that I’m a little neurotic,” he said. “Last year, I was doing play-by-play for Pace and Sacred Heart University. That’s 60 games I had to call. The day I found out I was going to do both, I basically spent three days handwriting and color coordinating all the rosters for every team with full pronunciations. I start preparing immediately. Some of the staff at Pace will tell you that I usually come very prepared and if I feel like I’m not getting enough information, I ask way ahead of time about things.”

Intense preparation also correlates to McGinnis’ other career as a history teacher at Mamaroneck High School.

“It has actually helped me in teaching because it’s kind of the same concept,” he said. “Preparation is always a big thing. You try to have as many notes as possible. You try to be as knowledgeable as possible.”

“I love both jobs,” McGiniss said. “It is a weird cross pollination. You get to know yourself more and be comfortable with presenting yourself in both jobs.”

Despite making a career out of talking, McGinnis is never quick to speak about himself. He is more into the business of speaking about and praising others such as legendary broadcasters Jack Buck, Vin Scully and Verne Lunquist, or friends like fellow Mamaroneck history teacher and former Pace offensive lineman Ray Gualano.

All McGinnis wants to be praised for is doing a fine job of capturing the emotion of the games he calls.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about me, its about the players and telling the story,” he said. “I always make it that it’s the players and the game that’s front and center. I just hope I do a decent job of illustrating that on the airwaves.”