David Foley is the associate broadcaster and video coordinator for the Gwinnett Gladiators, his second season with the team after spending the first as the media relations and broadcasting assistant. Foley is the voice of the Gladiators for all the road games.
In this installment of "Getting to Know ...", Foley took time to talk to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including his early move from the East Coast to the West, getting his education at Southern Cal and a scary moment as a goalie in college.
CT: Where did you grow up?
DF: I was born in Doylestown, Penn., but moved when I was young out to California. I spent 19 years in South Orange County. Mostly in Mission Viejo, which is right between Los Angeles and San Diego.
CT: How young were you? Old enough to know what a big change it was?
DF: I was 4, and I don't remember the move too much, so I'd say not really. We had a quick stopover in Maryland too, but I don't remember a ton from that either.
CT: I was 3 when my family moved from Illinois to Washington. But I think, like you, I remain loyal to the sports teams in a place I don't remember living -- just going back to visit. Is that true?
DF: Absolutely. Most of our family is still out in Pennsylvania/New Jersey and we'd go out to visit every year. I'm definitely still loyal to all the Philly teams. When we moved to California we had L.A. Kings season tickets and when the Ducks started, we would go to those games all the time. So while I do like the California sports teams, my main loyalty goes to the Flyers, Phillies and Eagles.
If I were to root for an NBA team it'd be the Sixers too, but I can't stand the NBA.CT: So you stayed in California for college?
DF: I did. I had the option to go to Philly but I fell in love with USC. It was close enough to home not to be a major culture shock, but far enough away where I could still have some independence. As much as I never would have admitted it back in the day, the West Coast definitely corrupted me. I was spoiled with the 70's and sunny weather (laughing).
CT: Did you go to USC with a degree in mind? Did you pick it because you knew what you wanted to do or because of the college itself?
DF: I picked it based entirely on the fact that I knew what I wanted to do. I looked at a few schools out there, including our archrival UCLA. Their journalism program wasn't what I was looking for though, and the second I set foot on USC's campus, I fell in love with the place. They have an amazing journalism program, too. I was sold.
I knew I wanted to be a hockey broadcaster from a young age. As a little kid I'd sit in my seat at L.A. Kings' games and announce it to myself. In fifth grade, our teacher Ms. Ray got a PA system for me, so during our classes' soccer matches I'd stand on the sideline and announce them to everyone (laughing). It was always the goal.
CT: Did the people at the Kings' games appreciate your early call style?
DF: (laughing) I'm sure I was awful, that annoying kid talking to himself. But the season ticket holders around us were always awesome to me.
The only time in my life I was speechless was when I met Kings' hall of fame broadcaster Bob Miller. He was one of the people that made me want to do this job.
CT: When did you meet him?
DF: I can't even remember how old I was. It was back when the Kings played at the Great Western Forum, and it was only for a couple minutes. I distinctly remember shaking his hand and freezing completely. But he was so nice, so I always tell myself if I ever get to where he is, I'm going to be that good to people, too.
CT: At USC, is the J-department separated into print and broadcast? Or is it all one degree and you use it how you want?
DF: It was separated. Especially when it came to where you worked. You either spent time on the Daily Trojan staff or worked at Annenberg TV News, the school's live student-run newscast. I worked for the DT my first semester just for the experience, then started at ATVN, which was an incredible experience.
I also worked in the Atheltic Department in their video department.
CT: As someone who reads your press releases, I appreciate that you spent some time with the paper.
DF: And ATVN was the same way as far as emphasizing writing and being able to put together a coherent story quickly, but obviously print journalism is very, very different.
My first beat was covering the USC men's tennis team, so that was fantastic experience-wise. Their coach Peter Smith was great to me, and they have had a lot of success lately and are the No. 1 team in the nation right now. So I'm very happy to see that.
The other big thing for me in college was working with the USC hockey team.
CT: It's a club team, right? Plays against the other schools in the Pac-12, primarily? Was there a good following for the team despite that?
DF: Actually there was. It was the Pac-8 at the time, but we'd practice every week, travel all over the West Coast. It was a club sport (ACHA), but we all treated it like we were NCAA. I'd travel with the team and do all the broadcasts. And occasionally fill in in goal. It was a great time.
And where I was able to get the most experience doing hockey play by play over the three years I was with them.CT: Tell me about filling in as a goalie for the team. For practice? Or games too?
DF: It started as practice. I grew up playing roller hockey so it was a good chance to get used to ice and from a broadcast perspective. It was a great way to see what the team was doing and what certain guys' tendencies were. I ended up filling in for a couple games because a few of our guys were injured. Coach just comes up to me after a game and says, "Foley, you are on the roster, No. 35, sign this waiver." (laughing)
DF: Then, sure enough I get into a game late in Colorado, and one of our d-men gets flipped into me and his skate just caught me on the neck.
I kept playing, covered the puck up, didn't even feel it. The ref's face turned pale white and he's just like "Go to the bench...NOW." About halfway there I started to pass out. No blood though.
CT: No blood?
DF: The blade didn't go deep enough, so our trainer just put these invisible stitches on. She was great. But she told me had that blade gone even slightly deeper I would have been in trouble.
CT: That's crazy. Did you play again?
DF: Yep, back in practice a couple weeks later. I got a new mask though and a new neck guard.
CT: Smart move.
DF: It really just made me more thankful for everything. It wasn't going to be the reason I stopped playing, though.
CT: Your work with the news station in college must have helped with all the multimedia stuff you do for the Gladiators. All the video work.
DF: Yep, the athletic department work was huge, getting used to filming a sporting event and putting a highlight or recap together. Phenomenal experience. And you had the best seat in the house for football games.
CT: How did you end up getting the job with the Gladiators?
DF: Well, I had applied the season before and was the runner-up, but the position became available again after I had spent a season working for the Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies Low-A team) in Jersey. I already had spoken with Dustin (Bixby, media relations director in Gwinnett) before, so it just came together
It was a no-brainer on my side of things. I had only heard great things about the front office and the area and although I really enjoyed doing baseball, hockey was where I wanted to be.
CT: Were you coming straight out of USC when you applied the first time?
DF: I had been out of school for a bit. I graduated May 2008, started in Lakewood January 2010 and here October '10.
CT: There's never a dull day in the ECHL, it seems. Does any one story stand out to you as epitomizing how crazy it can get?
DF: Wow. Most of the road trips at least one crazy thing happens (laughing). The game in Greenville when the Zamboni broke down stands out. We were on air and we find out that the game was postponed. I'm used to that in baseball with weather issues, but that was wild. But the ECHL is very well-run, I've been very impressed overall.
The talent level is legit. Nothing frustrates me more than people who downplay us because it's the minors.
CT: Favorite, least favorite road trips?
DF: Favorite? Trenton is up there because I get to see the family. Most of the buildings are pretty nice, so there isn't really any one location I dread broadcasting from.