Jordan Vater ’09, communication major and research fellow
Communications fellowship exceeds expectations
Coming out of high school,
Jordan Vater ’09 was so intrigued by the potential of gaining valuable experience as a research fellow of
Mike Counter (Communications) that he chose St. Norbert over the University of Minnesota.
The larger school offered a major in broadcasting that was tempting to Vater – but at St. Norbert he would have the chance to play intercollegiate baseball, too. Once he and Counter got in touch, it began to look as if there would be a way to pursue both interests. Counter, a former sports anchor, has extensive experience in television and radio. Vater was offered additional grant aid through the research fellows program, which pairs students with faculty members or professional partners in their area of interest.
What Vater and Counter never expected were the variety of learning opportunities that were to crop up along the way, creating a broader college experience than the pair ever imagined. Four years later, Vater, now a communication major, takes stock.
“What Mike originally laid out was a two-year plan,” he says. “We figured the further we’d go along, the more opportunities we were going to get. But this went above and beyond what we had thought was going to happen.”
Counter, who has an extensive electronic media background as a former sportscaster for WBAY TV-2, in Green Bay, put together a list of five potential learning opportunities for Vater to tackle when he arrived in De Pere:
“I knew that coming to St. Norbert, I would get some opportunities that I wouldn’t necessarily get at [a school the size of] Minnesota,” Vater says. “The biggest opportunity I had here wasn’t even available when I came here.”
- Work experience in the Office of Communications
- Writing press releases and other print pieces
- Dealing with the media
- Observing how the media handles stories, both positively and negatively
- A possible internship in local TV or radio
During Vater’s sophomore year, the Midwest Conference – of which St. Norbert is a member – created a pilot program to broadcast men’s and women’s basketball games. Vater and
Matt Panure ’07 jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
The duo even got to call all the women’s basketball conference tournament games when they were held at the Schuldes Sports Center in 2007, and this year the broadcast program expanded to include play-by-play of St. Norbert football games.
“Matt had done some racing [announcing] for a few years already, so it was a little nerve-wracking for me the first time,” Vater recalls. “[WBAY’s] Chris Roth told me to let Matt work me in and just say what needs to be said, and Mike told me to not force things.” (Roth, sports director at WBAY TV-2, is pictured on the
home page with Counter, left, and Vater, right.)
Counter reminded Vater that it’s the little things that make for a successful game broadcast, such as pronouncing names correctly and telling listeners the score and time of game often. That’s especially important since families can go online and catch the games from wherever they are.
“One of the things you learn is not to be afraid to get pronunciations from the coach before the game,” Counter says. “For the families, it’s very important that when they hear their name, it’s pronounced properly. When it’s not, you’re showing them you didn’t do your job.”
In addition to handling a heavy dose of public relations work in the Office of Communications, Vater has enjoyed a successful internship at WBAY. His writing skills coming out of high school gave him a leg up on many incoming freshmen.
“We went in with a game plan and followed it,” Counter says. “I didn’t want to make any promises, because that wouldn’t have been fair to Jordan, but I think almost every one [of the items planned] has come to fruition.
“Everything seemed to fall into place, but the rest was up to Jordan. He had to deliver. You have to be able to take advantage of your opportunities.”