- Carlie Mertz
Student Trades LFHS for Four New Letters: ESPN
By Carlie Mertz
Connor Clark has always been involved in sports. Starting at age three, he discovered a love for basketball while playing with his dad. His passion only grew from there.
Clark is now an aspiring sports broadcaster who landed a job at ESPN Lincoln in Nebraska within a year after his 2020 graduation from Lake Forest High School. He is slated to start working at ESPN Lincoln this fall. According to the University of Nebraska freshman, it’s been a long work in progress.
"I will have to make my way up by taking whatever opportunity that's thrown at me,” said former Lake Forest High School broadcaster Connor Clark, talking about his new job at ESPN Lincoln.
In middle school, Clark began making YouTube videos, where he’d call Chicago sports games that appeared on television. “It got me excited, so I thought I might as well give this a shot,” he said. His channel became purely sports-related, focusing on professional teams in Chicago along with ones at Northwestern University and DePaul University. Clark watched other videos of people doing similar things, which helped him learn more about what he liked and didn’t like in their broadcasts.
When Clark entered his freshman year at Lake Forest High School, he tried out for several different sports. He ended up making the football team, but he was disappointed when he failed to make the basketball team. “You know, looking back it’s a silly thing to be upset about, but at 14 years old I was pretty beat up,” he said.
Clark still wanted to be involved in the boys basketball program, so he reached out to Phil LaScala, the varsity head coach. He put Clark in contact with Steve Douglass, the LFHS new media teacher, who set Clark up with broadcast equipment. Clark felt that Douglass did a great job teaching him how to overcome difficulties by thinking critically in different ways. “He was hard on me in high school but for good reason; he really wanted to make sure I was improving each and every day,” said Clark. Douglass was impressed by Clark’s dedication to broadcasting. "Connor worked hard and cultivated opportunities to hone his skills with more than 50 broadcasts,” Douglass said. “His senior year, he earned the moniker ‘The Voice of the Scouts’ by calling every football game, including some away games, and every home boys’ and girls’ basketball game.”
The deep-voiced Clark felt that his experience in high school has given him an advantage over others interested in sports broadcasting. “I mean, you can pick out a handful of people who have gotten really serious about what they want to do with the rest of their life in high school,” said Clark, who attends the University of Nebraska College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “I would say that the work that I had the opportunity to do in high school has given me an enormous leg up, and it’s really helped me get opportunities such as the ESPN job.”
During his senior year at LFHS, Clark ended up meeting Chris Schmidt, a co-host for ESPN Lincoln. They emailed and texted from time to time, and Clark would send podcasts looking for feedback on how to improve. They were able to meet in person once Clark started school in Nebraska. In late March, Clark received a text from him out of the blue stating that Schmidt wanted him to come work on his show. Clark will start off co-hosting and producing radio shows, along with producing live games and announcing for high school football teams around Nebraska. “I'll be one of the younger ones there so I will have to make my way up by taking whatever opportunity that's thrown at me,” said Clark.
His dream job is becoming a play-by-play announcer for a college or professional team. He hopes to be part of a specific organization versus a national network that covers a league. “My dream job is if the Bulls offered me a job like 20 years down the line,” Clark said. “That would be a bucket-list item right there.”