Philadelphia Union PA Announcer Kevin Casey joined Union broadcaster Dave Leno on a Zoom chat yesterday afternoon to share his career journey along with helpful advice during the extended absence of sports. Learn his story.
You may know him only by his voice. But many Philadelphia Union fans have come to recognize PA Announcer Kevin Casey as one of their own the last few months thanks to his engaging social media activity which includes customized goal calls and a clever mini-series on YouTube titled “Life Without Soccer.”
Or perhaps you know him due to the unmistakable facial hair or the classy game day attire which includes a snazzy bow-tie. Or perhaps you know him as the full-time High School History teacher with an awesome side gig.
But if you don’t know him, maybe you should. Yesterday, Casey welcomed the chance to make that happen.
Casey and his distinguished beard, smooth yet powerful voice and bright smile joined a group of 40-50 current and aspiring PA Announcers in a Zoom meeting yesterday hosted by Dave Leno, a veteran play by play broadcaster also associated with the Union. Casey shared thoughtful advice along with funny and wild stories from his career journey which included a valuable stretch in Minor League Baseball and the National Lacrosse League.
But soccer has always been Casey’s number one sport.
While attending Eastern University, he played about a year and a half of Division III soccer before hanging up the boots. He mentioned his feet just weren’t quick enough so he decided to pivot his interests elsewhere.
That new interest soon became clear one afternoon during his Sophomore year. His coach at the time, Wayne Rasmussen, was also the school’s Athletic Director. Rasmussen also moonlighted as the school’s PA Announcer for basketball games. One day, Casey watched Rasmussen behind the mic, turned to his girlfriend at the time (now his wife of 20 years), and simply said he wanted to give it a try. He asked and to his surprise, his coach agreed with no qualms.
And that’s how it all started for Casey. He noticed an interest and explored it without hesitation. That theme was common during the three-hour Zoom meeting: One door opens another door, which opens another door, which opens another door. And so on.
From there Casey dove into the craft. He began experimenting with game presentation ideas, a fad that was just starting at the time and would quickly become an integral part of sports productions moving forward. He used the infamous Jock Jams albums as a way to bring new levels of excitement and some added flair to games.
Eventually, Casey would be connected with the Philadelphia Kixx through contacts of Rasmussen. Once more, Casey noticed an opportunity and made the most of it.
He began as an assistant to Adam Hertz, Kixx PA guy at the time. Casey would flip the pages of Hertz’s script during games while soaking up every bit of insight and experience he could in the process.
Soon Casey took over as the main PA Announcer for the Kixx. And from there even more new doors continued to open.
Casey would work Philadelphia Wings lacrosse matches and also spend considerable time working in Minor League Baseball with the Allentown Ambassadors in the late ’90s and the Camden Riversharks who play beneath the iconic Ben Franklin Bridge.
During those years, Casey gained what he mentioned to be a highly valuable career experience. He placed extra emphasis on his time in Minor League Baseball due to low-budget productions and pure chaos that routinely accompanied his days a PA Announcer then. It forced him to think quickly on his feet while remaining professional in demeanor. It’s a skill set he cherishes.
One night during a Riversharks game, something completely unscripted occurred in the 8th inning. It was firework night for Riversharks fans yet across the river in Philadelphia, someone was having their own personal firework night. Casey grabbed the mic to address the crowd with humor saying “Please, do not lookup. Those are not our fireworks. Please, do not look up.” Players on the field glanced up at Casey’s booth chuckling.
On other occasions, there would be not just one person to throw out the ceremonial first pitch but sometimes 5-10 others. Yet Casey would have no idea what their names would be. In those moments, it became clear to Casey that having the facts – especially the proper pronunciation of names – would become the main focal point of his work.
His career became a bit steadier when he started announcing for the Wings of the National Lacrosse League. He worked with them for 15 years before they left the city.
But those 15 years left him with some fond memories and wild stories. During one game, there was a knock-down-drag-out brawl where four fights happened all at once. When it came time to announce the visiting team’s fighting penalties, Casey used an unexcited, somewhat flat voice announcing names and penalty minutes. But when it was time to announce fighting penalties for Wings players, Casey screamed as if they all scored game-winning goals and the crowd went nuts.
He began to feed off crowd energy and learn how to facilitate the show, but not be the show.
During his time with the Wings, he began to sharpen his skills and develop more connections which inevitably lead to new doors and opportunities. Many of those opportunities arose at the collegiate level at Drexel, La Salle, and Penn to name a few.
Casey highlighted the importance of getting your foot in the door several times throughout the meeting. He mentioned you should try to get your foot in the door to have a seat in the room and then you work hard enough so that they can never get you out of the room.
The next room Casey would enter and try not to leave would be his PA Announcing booth at what is now called Subaru Park after landing a gig with the Union back when the franchise first started.
He has been with the organization since day one and he rarely (if ever) misses a match. He’s become sort of branded with the Union and for a PA Announcer or any sports broadcaster, that’s a big positive. In fact, soccer in Philadelphia is Casey’s niche. He’s routinely called upon to work international soccer games, a role he gladly welcomes.
And now Casey has woven himself into the fabric of the Union fan base. After 10 years of goal calls, Casey is a part of that extended Union family. Perhaps Casey feels that sense of community and wanted to give back during what only can be described as a time filled with unending, negative waves of news.
Which brings us back to Casey’s social media activity. He decided that he needed to try and bring some positive and inspiring content to an otherwise dreary landscape. And it started at home with his children.
In an effort to bring some comedy to their days he would dress up in his normal game day attire and announce random events at the home. He walked to the mailbox to announce “There is no mail today,” in his silky smooth PA voice. He also went to a local Starbucks (before distancing regulations) and sat at the bar announcing events as they happened. He even ordered through a Wendy’s drive-thru using that PA voice to make his kids smile.
Since he’s been making Union fans smile and he has plans to continue, although he admitted he’s running low on ideas. For now, Casey ponders the future and whether there will be fans at future matches. If there are no fans, well Casey had some profound thoughts. He mentioned his goal calls would become much more emotional for him. He would want to be loud enough so every fan in the Delaware Valley could hear and know that they are not alone and we are still all in this together. And that’s really what we all need.
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Mandatory Credit: Kevin Casey via Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcasey395