Gordon Head kid keeps career focus during pandemic

Sportsnet pros take time to talk to young broadcaster

Owen Klaassen, 13, in his Saanich home, talking to Sportsnet broadcaster Arash Madani on live video chat. Like Klaassen, the broadcasters also have some extra time on their hands as all sports, form the pro to community levels, are cancelled. (Tanya Twynstra Photo)

With no school or sports to keep him busy, Owen Klaassen found another way to pursue his dream of working in sports broadcasting.

On Tuesday the 13-year-old Gordon Head middle school student interviewed Sportsnet Blue Jays reporter Arash Madani live on video chat, and on Wednesday he talked to Blue Jays play-by-play commentator Jamie Campbell.

It helped that mom is a major Blue Jays fan who reached out initially, but it was Klaassen who did the rest of the work while mom listened from upstairs.

The two pros are at the top of the baseball broadcasting ladder in Canada, a spot Klaassen would one day like to reach himself.

“The thing [Campbell] said [that stood out] is that it was an honour to meet the major league players and to interview them,” Klaassen said. “It doesn’t matter if they are first or last, it’s an honour to meet anyone that can make it to the major league.”

Of course, the kid is not just into the media side of sports. He plays hockey, volleyball, baseball (Gordon Head) and badminton, and also umpires at Lakehill Little League where he previously played.

He also shoots photos as the junior photographer of the Junior B Saanich Braves.

READ ALSO: Trudeau promises $82 billion in economic supports in COVID-19 fight

And Klaassen has dabbled already with broadcasting. He did a live feed from this year’s Gordon Head middle school basketball finals on Instagram, which set off the play-by-play bug for him.

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Braves won 8-3 tonight!

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“That set it off for me,” Klaassen said. “Gordon Head, my school, lost the game but I covered the celebration, and some parents of the other team were able to watch from home and they thought it was a good job so that made me pretty happy.”

A few years ago Klaassen was the junior broadcaster for the HarbourCats and was able to spend time in the broadcast booth listening to the play-by-play call with then online broadcaster Johnathan Hodgson.

That turned into daily shifts for about five games, when he worked quietly in the booth researching and prepping stats for Hodgson.

“I didn’t make any of the calls at the time, it was about the experience,” Klaassen said.

The best part about the video chat with Madani, Klaassen said, is that it’s not over.

“He’s going to check in with me in June,” Klaassen said. “[Madani] explained how he also got started in high school and even took a chance when he left a full-time job after university to work one day a week for Sportsnet.”

There likely won’t be any live sports until June, if not longer, so until then the only live play-by-play Klaassen will do is to MLB The Show, his favourite video game.

“Talking to Jamie and Arash was pretty good considering I’ve been watching them for years, I wasn’t nervous,” Klaassen said. “It made me pretty happy. It made my day.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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