During the 2016 and 2017 baseball seasons, there was a familiar face at the St. Bede announcer’s table behind home plate.
Nick Deranek quickly learned the Bruins’ names and how to properly say difficult names throughout the Illinois Valley.
Now, Deranek is back in his home state of Indiana and has a new list of head-scratching names and duties as he is the public announcer for the University of Notre Dame and Elkhart Memorial High School in Elkhart, Ind.
The NewsTribune caught up with Deranek to see how the Mishawaka, Ind. native found himself in the Illinois Valley and what kind of work he is doing with the Fighting Irish.
NewsTribune: What brought you to the Illinois Valley?
Nick Deranek: I got a job opportunity with a radio station in Streator back in 2012. That was shortly after I finished up trade school (Illinois Media School) in Chicago. I got a job offer a couple months after graduating and that brought me to the Illinois Valley for six years.
NT: What are some things you’ve done with radio and public announcing?
ND: I started off as a news reporter and then I was promoted to news director. I did production. I ran two radio shows — one in the morning and a mid-day show. I was the color commentator for Streator football, play-by-by announcing for Streator softball when they were in the playoffs a few years ago. I honestly did every facet of radio work that you could think of.
NT: When did you get involved with St. Bede baseball and how did that come about?
ND: I got involved with St. Bede baseball in 2016 — a year after they went to the IHSA State Tournament. What happened was after the Streator radio station moved to the La Salle/Peru area with the rest of the group, it was a drive down to Streator to take care of a lot of the sports.
What I did was sent out emails to Tom McGunnigal at St. Bede, to Chris Newsome, the Putnam County athletic director, and to D’Wayne Bates, who was the AD at La Salle-Peru. I said, ‘Hey, I’m looking to do some public address announcing for the baseball season.’ I have been doing baseball announcing since I was a freshman in high school. This spring was the 17th season in a row. I didn’t want to break that because baseball is the sport I enjoy the most.
I wanted to stay involved with not too much travel. Tom got ahold of me a couple of days after I sent the email and then he got me in touch with (St. Bede baseball coach) Bill Booker. Booker talked to me on the phone and they were more than happy to have me there. I was a volunteer coach — mainly doing the stats and helping in the dugout — in 2017.
NT: How was your experience with Booker and the Bruins?
ND: Those two years were amazing. If not for some issues that brought me back to Indiana, I’d probably still be with them today. Between Bill and the rest of the coaching staff, they were a delight to be with. It was a smaller program than I was used to, but I think it was nice to get a little more hands on experience with the coaches. The coaches were fun to talk to, had an abundance of baseball knowledge and were just great to work with. I also got to know the players really well.
Both years, we did well in the playoffs. In 2016, we lost in the sectional final to Reed-Custer and 2017 was the year we went to Fulton and lost to Alleman in the regional final.
If I had the opportunity to come back, I would. That’s how much I enjoyed their company.
NT: Where in Indiana are you and what type of work are you doing?
ND: I’ve been back for 1 1/2 years and I’m in South Bend, Ind. I’m doing a lot of self-employed, contracting work. I am Notre Dame’s full-time announcer for men’s and women’s soccer and I did most of the baseball season in the spring. They had me as a backup for other things, so I did a volleyball match and I’m a back up for Olympic sports they have.
Notre Dame has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. On July 19, Liverpool from the Premier League and Borussia Dortmund from Bundesliga League are coming to Notre Dame for an international friendly. I’m going to be a public address announcer for that game. It’s going to be interesting, doing my first professional sporting event in front of 78,000 people.
I also do some work with Elkhart Memorial High School as I’m announcing boys and girls soccer, which are both fall sports in Indiana, and baseball.
NT: Are there any jitters heading into the soccer friendly?
ND: Once the week comes, it’s going to be a mixture of everything. Right now, I’m just full blown excited. I’ve been in a couple of conference calls getting the technical stuff down. I think once game day comes, I’m going to look out over the stadium and every seat is going to be full. I’m sure there will be some jitters because the biggest crowd I’ve announced for is probably 8,000. This is 10 times larger.
People from both organizations are getting me pronunciation guides and making sure I get these names down because there is a bunch of different ethnicities with both of these clubs. It’s going to be an experience. On top of that, it’s going to be on national TV (TNT). It’s not going to be just people on the board who are going to hear me, people all around the world will hear me. It’s a thrilling experience.
NT: Where does soccer rank in your favorite sports?
ND: To be honest, over the last few years soccer has moved itself up. I can’t really say I hate a sport because I work in all facets of sports. It’s not my overall favorite, but I’d say it’s a hard third or fourth.
NT: Do you get paid well enough public announcing these games or do you have another side job as well?
ND: I do some social media management for an organization called SuperSeries AAA Elite Hockey Tournaments. They’re based out of New Jersey. I do all of their social media stuff and I’m an events manager for them. I travel to take care of some of the tournaments. The last two weeks I was in Mount Prospect for a few days and I went to Minneapolis for a week to take care of our last spring tournament. In September, I’ll be in Boston for a week for our first fall tournament. That’s youth based going from 10-18 years old. I’ve been working with them for three years.
Between the announcing and the social media management, it pays enough to keep things afloat. I want to get back into full-time radio. I have a very hopeful interview for a position on Monday for a full-time job an hour away from South Bend.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.