Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: PSP’s chat with the voice of the Union, PA announcer Kevin Casey

Photo: Nick Fishman

A while back, I was down at Talen Energy Stadium. I can’t remember which game, but during a boring run of play, my mind started to wander. I wondered what kind of person becomes a PA announcer. Before my imagination started steering into Harlan Coben territory, I decided to just go to the man himself. I interviewed Philadelphia Union PA announcer Kevin Casey on a recent Sunday afternoon as he was on his way home from a La Salle game.

Philly Soccer Page: Did you always want to be a PA announcer, or did you fall into it?

Kevin Casey: So I was a student at Eastern University and I was playing soccer. Our coach was also the athletic director. He was doing the PA announcing at men’s basketball games. I asked him if I could give it a shot. He said yes, and it went pretty well. I started working most of the athletic events at Eastern. Then from there, he got me involved with the Philadelphia KiXX, who played at the old Spectrum. I started interning there and helping the main PA announcer, Adam Hertz, who’s currently the athletic director at Swarthmore College and eventually took over for him. Slowly but surely one door sort of opened another door. . . .

One thing I always tell my students is that if I had never taken the first step or had the courage to just ask if I could give it a try, I would have missed out on all these great experiences.

PSP: Did you play any other sports in your youth besides soccer?

KC: I played basketball, baseball and soccer but then in high school got more serious about basketball and soccer and played soccer for two years at the college level at Eastern. I was there in the mid-90s (we were still sort of a small Christian school). I was a midfielder on the left side. I had a left foot that could never find the target, and I had slow feet, which is why I only played two years.

PSP: Was that just freshman and sophomore years?

KC: Yeah, just freshman and sophomore years.

PSP: Do you coach now?

KC: No coaching for me now other than my son’s eight-year-old basketball team, but I teach full-time. I’m a history teacher at Pitman High School. It’s in South Jersey, Gloucester County.

PSP: When the Union are playing, how far in advance before kick-off do you arrive at Talen?

KC: General game day routine is that I usually leave my house about three hours prior to a game. We have a production meeting about two hours prior to the game, where we run through the script and get all the different elements of production on the same page, then we usually break and we’ll have our pregame meal in the dining room. Then I’ll take a look through the media notes for the pronunciation guides and look at some difficult names on the away side and usually try and catch up with the media contact from the visiting team to go over names. We usually start the game production about 90 minutes, an hour or so out from the game. That’s kind of the normal game day routine.

PSP: How late do you usually stay after the final whistle?

KC: A couple reads after the final whistle, then that’s it, I’m out of there. Then it becomes a decision whether to sit in traffic or wait.

PSP: Do you do any warm-up exercises before hopping on the mike?

KC: Not usually, no. I’m usually reviewing the script. The key for me is pronunciations of people who are in the script because the one thing you want to try and do is get the names right. Usually there are fans or sponsors or somebody’s names you want to make sure you got the pronunciations down. That’s probably the biggest thing I look for: that the names are said correctly.

PSP: Do you have any input on the scripts, or is that all just given to you by the production team?

KC: That’s given to me by the production team. At the production meeting we go through the script and there are times when collectively as a group some small changes need to be made here and there. There are some elements in the game that I sort of ad-lib on and they’re not fully scripted, but other than that. . . . They put a lot of work into the script.

PSP: For the recording of what’s allowed in stadium, is that recorded each March?

KC: They’re usually done at the beginning of the month. They’re done repeatedly throughout the season. All done at my house. I send it over to Carl Mandell, the producer, and he gets it all set and ready.

PSP: Is there a specific person you report to in the Union front office?

KC: Yeah, Carl Mandell is our producer. He’s in charge of game day presentations and all the graphics that you see up on the board, and really all of the elements of the game day — that’s Carl’s deal. He does does all the videos that you see the Union put out, like that C.J. Sapong video as Will Smith, the Fresh Prince. That’s all Carl. He puts all of those videos together. When we were having that playoff run, he was using Freeway, the rapper that they were using every now and then. So that’s all Carl. He puts all that stuff together. He does a pretty job.

PSP: Do you remember how you got the gig?

KC: I guess I had a little bit of reputation by working a number of different professional collegiate events in the Delaware Valley, and Wayne Rasmussen, who was my soccer coach at Eastern and was the athletic director, he had some connection with the team and floated my name out there. We were able to get together and I was lucky enough to get the position.

PSP: Were you there the first season?

KC: I’ve been there from day one. Yep, I worked that first game against D.C. United at the Linc and just about every game since. I missed one game that I believe was against Houston. My third child was born, and we were in the hospital room when the match was on. J.P. Dellacamera, our play-by-play guy, was nice enough to welcome my daughter, Anna Grace, to the Union family. So that was one of the few league matches I’ve missed.

I’ve missed a couple friendlies here and there. A lot of times we’re on vacation in South Carolina. I’ll fly home for a friendly, then fly back for vacation, but I don’t like to miss matches unless I really have to.

PSP: Has the Union job led to any other PA gigs?

KC: I currently do La Salle men’s and women’s basketball. I do work with the University of Pennsylvania’s soccer program. But the Union have really led to my involvement with U.S. Soccer. I’ve probably done maybe a couple dozen U.S. games. Not only in the Philadelphia area, but also I’ve done a few matches up at MetLife Stadium in New York and Red Bull Arena. Most recently this fall I worked the U.S. matches up in Connecticut, so I would say that my growing involvement with U.S. soccer is direct relation to the Union.

PSP: Do you have any memorable moments while working at a Union match?

KC: The All-Star game was a memorable moment, when the MLS All-Stars played Chelsea at what was PPL Park. Getting involved in the ESPN broadcast with the post-game celebration, throwing it down to Adrian Healey, that was a big one. Definitely the U.S. Open Cup final both years, although ending not the way we had wanted to. Being a part of big events like that. Definitely a great experience.

PSP: Is there anything else you want to add?

KC: Tagging onto your question about if it’s led to anything else, I forgot to mention the NCAA. I’ve done a lot with the NCAA; I usually do the lacrosse national championships when they’re at the Linc. I’ve done the College Cup national championships for men’s soccer at Talen. And I also did the NCAA east regional final when it was at Wells Fargo.

I guess I’ve been lucky enough to carve out my niche in the market here in the Delaware Valley It’s going well. I couldn’t be happier with it.

PSP: With lacrosse, are you in contact with Nick Sakiewicz?

KC: I was the Wings’ PA announcer for 15 seasons before they left. When they came back, we had talked about returning as maybe the PA announcer, but they kind of felt I had sort of branded myself with the Union, which is a great thing to have, that connection with the team. They wanted to go in a different direction and get their own voice, and I’ve been more involved most recently with NCAA soccer.

I’ve worked for just about every minor league team in the area. I did the KiXX, the Phantoms. I was with the Camden Sharks for 15 years. It’s been a great ride!

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