We’ve all done it.
Shooting hoops on the driveway, counting down the imaginary clock, describing the ankle-breaker against the imaginary opponent followed by the game-winning shot. We might even have mimicked the roar of the imaginary crowd.
Rylan Kobre did it perhaps with more verve than most.
As he and his friends played driveway basketball or backyard baseball or heck, ping pong, Kobre would do the play-by-play.
“I would have running commentary,” he said. “Whether we were playing whiffle ball or whatever it is.”
Kobre, a 2014 Montgomery High graduate, is still doing commentary and he’s still running.
A senior this fall at Boise State, Kobre is spending the summer in Wisconsin as the play-by-play radio guy for the Kenosha Kingfish in the Northwoods League, a premier summer league for college players.
When the regular season closes later this month, Kobre, a communications major, will have called 72 games in 76 days. All solo.
He travels by bus with the team, is being housed by a volunteer host in Kenosha and is working 12-hour days at a regular clip.
And the working conditions?
“We have the smallest press box in the league, the oldest field in the league,” he said.
Kobre is in the tight box with the camera guy, the woman who does video, the public address announcer and a few others.
“It’s hot and it’s humid,” he said. “You can’t move.”
And he loves it.
“I’ve gotten used to the daily grind of it,” he said. “I’m starting to get a taste of what it’s like in the future and as difficult as it is some days, I want more.”
And in Kenosha, he’s been given the keys to the proverbial Kingfish car.
“I format everything,” he said. “I get to do everything how I want to format it.”
So he does a 15-minute pregame show, a postgame show, a stat-of-the-night insert. While the players are taking batting practice, Kobre is poking around for updates, for a good story, for information on a streak or trends or patterns with the players and the team.
He does a once-a-week sitdown with manager Duffy Dyer, catcher for the Mets when they won the 1969 World Series.
“Some of the guys are probably like, ‘Why is this guy always asking questions?’” he said.
Kobre said the work he does before he ever sets foot into that steamy press box is what makes for a good broadcast.
“I have learned prep, prep, prep and now I’m learning to call the game,” he said.
And Kobre has to resist the temptation to drop everything he knows, the answers to all of those questions, onto his audience.
“You don’t want to just vomit what you prep onto the audience,” he said.
“Early in the year, I was probably over-talking,” he said. “There is a huge learning process of letting the game breathe. That is what Vin Scully does so well. You want to have the listener feel like they are at the park. If I’m talking the whole time, they are not going to get that sense.”