Dynamic duo

Bamford, Zawislak provided Spring-Ford’s RCTV viewers with excellent commentary during sporting events this fall.

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Submitted photo

John Zawislak (left) and Anthony Bamford broadcast a football game for RCTV in the fall. The duo played an important role in bringing sporting events to those who could not attend in person.

Matt Dunne, Sports Editor

Standing outside of the Ram Country Television production truck with Anthony Bamford and John Zawislak before a Spring-Ford football game can almost make one feel like a celebrity. 

Parents praise and emphasize their respect for the two seniors. The amount of compliments could certainly make one feel as if they are standing with the star quarterback and running back.

Except they are not. They are standing alongside the commentators.

Bamford and Zawislak are both athletes, though. Competing at the top-tier of both cross-country and track, the two are almost always active when they are not broadcasting. They take their extensive preparation and training very seriously, for both running and every broadcast. 

“I am usually up late into the night, deciphering stats and preparing notes on the teams. Any key players with any additional story that can be told during the game is something I am always looking for. ”

— JOHN ZAWISLAK

“I am usually up late into the night, deciphering stats and preparing notes on the teams,” Zawislak said. “Any key players with any additional story that can be told during the game is something I am always looking for.” 

Spending an evening with these two, their clear desire to be the best is always on display. When informed a player’s name was being pronounced wrong, the two became visibly frustrated with themselves and were insistent on getting it right, repeating the name back and forth to each other until completely nailing it down. Zawislak looked down in his notebook and wrote out the pronunciation guide, to go along with the already-filled three pages of notes that had already been written. 

Bamford was a very seasoned commentator coming into this season. He had spent the majority of the previous season as the color commentator to the former voice of Spring-Ford sports, Nick Elsner. As much as Bamford loved his opportunity doing color commentary, he was frightened COVID-19 would wipe out any chance of him getting to do play-by-play.

“It was tough to potentially not be calling games,” Bamford said. “I had spent consecutive years doing color commentary with Nick Elsner, but to lose my opportunity to do play-by-play was very saddening and difficult.”

As much as Bamford credits Elsner for aiding him in all his broadcasting endeavors, he learned a great deal from watching the greats on TV.

“I don’t think me saying I was thankful to cover games in the COVID season does it enough justice. It was such an eye-opening experience to how important media has become. People who I never thought would watch RCTV were tuning into the games, and respect from the audience and players and coaches alike was just so reassuring.”

— ANTHONY BAMFORD

“I always watched national sporting events and seeing people like Verne Lundquist, Al Michaels, and Dick Vitale, made me realize exactly who I wanted to be like.”

For Zawislak, he always had aspirations of being a broadcaster after a much more personal connection.

“When I was younger, my dad and I would simply just mute the television and call the game ourselves,” he recalled. “Calling games with my dad was something that really put me on the road to where I am now.”

Both broadcasters made it abundantly clear how grateful they are for their opportunities. 

“We are just extremely grateful to have the equipment to do a broadcast and we possess three incredibly talented faculty members who have helped us so much in continuing to better ourselves,” Zawislak said. 

With limited spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions, the need for Ram Country TV was greater than ever this year. The channel and broadcasters covered more games than they ever have. 

Zawislak and Bamford played a big role in making that possible.

“I honestly do not know if we could have done the amount of games we did if it was not for them,” Spring-Ford Media Communications Manager Andrew Rothermel said. “They were willing to work every possible sport and event. They dedicated many hours and so did the rest of our tremendous RCTV crew, but Anthony and John helped take our productions to the next level.”

Praise for the broadcasting pair can be heard outside the district as well. TC Jones, a PA Football News writer, unprovokingly tweeted, “Big shout out to the (Ram Country TV) student’s calling the game. They’ve done an excellent job all day. Great play-by play and smart commentary. It’s hard to believe these are just teenagers calling the game.” 

Local sports writer, Willie McGonigle, tweeted “I must say what an amazing job (Ram Country TV) are doing with their broadcast. Way better than the NFL.” 

This praise does not go unnoticed by the seniors who have now called their last football game. 

“This type of feedback has greatly increased my confidence and helps me calm down in the booth, knowing that people are enjoying what I am doing,” Zawislak said. 

Bamford echoed a similar sentiment to Zawislak, “Positive feedback is just so reassuring and a great confidence booster. Obtaining a compliment in an area or sport you feel you lacked in, is just a tremendous feeling.”

Both Zawislak and Bamford also wanted to emphasize their respect and graciousness to each other.

“I’ve known John since machine-pitch as an eight-year-old, but our relationship really flourished running middle school cross country,” Bamford said. “We instantly became good friends which has greatly contributed to our chemistry on-air, as it always feels like we are having a conversation together as friends, rather than something formal. 

“Running middle and high school cross country with Anthony really helped us,” Zawislak said. “We both know when to let each other speak, when to joke, and how to keep the conversation free-flowing. Anthony has and will always be a really good friend to me.”

Bamford and Zawislak echoed their thankfulness to the public, their crew, and the teachers for all the assistance and support they have gotten through the year.

Many in the community would say we should be the ones thanking them.

“I don’t think me saying I was thankful to cover games in the COVID season does it enough justice,” Bamford said. “It was such an eye-opening experience to how important media has become. People who I never thought would watch RCTV were tuning into the games, and respect from the audience and players and coaches alike was just so reassuring.”