By DAVID MUELLER
KEARNEY – After suffering a season-ending knee injury as a senior at Cambridge High School, Evan Jones remained dedicated to his football team.
He refused to let a setback end his life in sports, so he chose to give himself a purpose. With permission from his school’s technical producer, Jones began broadcasting the Trojans’ games with a Bluetooth headset and an iPad via the Cube, a live streaming medium.
“I didn’t like the thought of just standing on the sidelines on crutches. I wanted to be involved and I thought that was a great way,” said the University of Nebraska at Kearney sophomore.
After commentating the entire high school football season, Jones discovered his niche. He tossed aside his earlier plan to pursue an education in physical therapy and instead plunged headlong in the broadcasting field.
Now in his second year at UNK, Jones continues to hone his skills as a play-by-play commentator for Lexington mega-station KRVN and campus radio KLPR, calling a variety of high school and college sporting events.
As Jones considered several colleges out of high school, UNK made an impression with its new sports communication program. The arrival of KLPR director and senior lecturer Ford Clark was equally important in Jones’ decision.
Jones said UNK offered the exposure and real-life opportunities he believed necessary to develop as a sports broadcaster.
“I came on a visit here (UNK) and fell in love,” Jones said. “I met with professor (Jacob) Rosdail. He said Ford Clark was coming in and I was like, ‘I’ve heard what he’s done at UNL and he probably would give me a good foundation for what I need in the future.’”
Jones’ diligence to improve and his readiness to learn make him an ideal protégé for Clark.
“Evan is great in the classroom. He is very eager to learn for somebody that actually has experience in the field,” Clark said. “He is always prepared.
“If I could have a bunch of students like him, I’d take them in a heartbeat. He’s a sponge – he wants to learn everything about the business and he understands the business.”
A member of the Thompson Scholars Learning Community, Jones said his college-prep grades didn’t win him any academic accolades. But he has a strong work ethic, an ideology his parents instilled in him at a young age.
“They taught me to work hard… I’ve never been a great test-taker, but I’m one of those guys if you give me a goal, I’m going to achieve it,” Jones said. “They told me what I needed to do in class and I said, ‘OK – you got it.’”
The TSLC has also acted as a crucial component by motivating Jones in the classroom and during his broadcasts. He said the camaraderie among the other Thompson Scholars has been influential.
Besides Jones’ sound knowledge of athletics, Clark quickly recognized the traits that make him a gifted broadcaster.
“His personality is perfect because he’s willing to learn, he’s outgoing, he’s just very attentive to detail, and things like that are all necessary things to have to get in the field. It’s cool to see him grow — even little things that get better every time he does a broadcast.”
At the end of the day, Jones said he thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to tell listeners a story.
“I really enjoy analyzing what’s going on during a competitive contest. Breaking it down so the listener feels like they are right there,” he said. “Also, I feel like broadcasting is telling my story, explaining to the people what I see and how the game unfolds.”
In conjunction with broadcasting, Jones is an active member of the Sports Administration Club in the Kinesiology and Sport Sciences department. His admiration for broadcasting and sports has him pondering graduate school in the future.