Sophomore Chase Lio’s dreams got an important boost this week. The aspiring sports broadcaster was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters for his work as the play-by-play announcer for the Loyola Marymount University women’s basketball team.
”It’s a pretty cool honor,” said Lio, a sophomore economics major. “The money is good, but for me the best part is that there will be an opportunity to make connections, hopefully developing some sort of network, getting a job or internship opportunity.”
Lio credits his grandfather, Dennis Lio, with sparking his interest in sports. Dennis, who coached Chase’s T-ball team, and who, Chase said, “throughout my whole life, I don’t think that he missed more than one baseball game a whole season,” flew from New York to see the presentation. Chase teasingly added, “It’s probably just to meet some of the people at the luncheon, like Vin Scully and some of his old-time heroes.”
Tom Feuer, the SCSB’s scholarship chairman and an executive producer for Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket, presented the award to Lio on Jan. 28, noting that Lio was unanimously selected for the scholarship. Sarah Finney, LMU’s assistant director for sports information, nominated him.
Lio, who grew up in Wilsonville, Ore., a suburb of Portland, had some play-by-play experience that helped him land the job with LMU Athletics. During his high school years, the basketball coach did an online broadcast for families that couldn’t make it to the games. “They asked me if I wanted to do it because I’ve always had an interest in listening to the games on the radio, rather than watching them on TV. And I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ I mean, only 12 to 15 people listening to it, and I could screw up and nobody would be listening.”
Now 20 games into his first season, Lio is getting the full sports-journalism experience behind the microphone. He’s thrilled to be watching Lion guard/forward Alex Cowling chase records: “Alex just passed the LMU rebounding record and Coach [Charity] Elliott did a really classy thing: she called timeout right afterward and everyone gave Alex a standing ovation.” But he’s seen some of the downside, too: “The hardest thing to do is interview Coach Elliott after a loss. I don’t want to ask the wrong questions and I know she doesn’t really want to talk, especially … after losing close games. It’s tough to ask her questions, because I have to interview her and we have to get her side of the story.”
Lio, whose broadcasting heroes include sportscasting legend Jack Buck and longtime Portland Trailblazers announcer Brian Wheeler, will be busy the rest of the season, covering the women’s games as they compete for a good seeding in the WCC tournament, keeping up with his classes and honing his play-by-play skills. Maybe, even, he will come up with a signature catch-phrase. “I’m working on it, but I feel that is just something that has to come to you on the spot, without even thinking about it,” he said. “I’m still new to this play-by-play for collegiate basketball, where there’s pressure on me to do well. So, I feel like that kind of thing will come to me as I get more comfortable.”