Rowan University junior hopes to be voice of change for women in play-by-play sports

Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Rowan University junior hopes to be the voice of change
A junior at Rowan University is looking to be the voice of change when it comes to women in play-by-play sports roles.

GLASSBORO, New Jersey (WPVI) -- For as long as there have been announcers in a booth, the calls of great moments in sports have mostly had one thing in common: a man's voice painting the picture.

Well, Rowan University junior Kayla Santiago is looking to change that.

Santiago is a sports media and communication major and a budding play-by-play announcer who got the opportunity of a lifetime to call the G-League Championship game between the Delaware Blue Coats and the Lakeland Magic on the radio.

"There was definitely a lot of nerves," she said. "I was a little shaky coming out. And then once I realized this is just another game you're broadcasting and yeah it's a bigger stage, I was able to get back in the zone."

The Glassboro native has been basically preparing for this her whole life.

"Ever since I was little I've absolutely loved sports. I've called myself a sports nerd sometimes. I used to watch Phillies, Sixers, Eagles games. And I wasn't just a fan, I literally had a notebook when I was 10 years old taking stats. I wanted to know every player. I wanted to know the statistics. I wanted to be educated about it. I think that's where the passion came in," said Santiago.

As she grew, so did that passion. Besides calling numerous sports in college, in the past few years she's landed internships with the NFL Alumni Association and even interned for Eagles legendary play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese.

"That's where I really found my voice," said Kayla. "I used to sit down with him and he would say, 'Say this word differently, you can't say it in your South Philly or South Jersey accent, you have to say it how other people are gonna read it.'"

Very few women have done play-by-play.

"For me to do this, it's not only what I love, my passion, but I know I can set a mark for people watching me and little girls that want to do the same thing," she said.

Her end goal is to be that voice you hear in the background when watching the NFL, NBA or MLB.

"I think for me, just the feeling I get before calling a game, the research, the preparation that takes four hours before the game, just that feeling is unmatched," she said. "I don't want a job where I wake up every day and I'm miserable, I want to do something that I love."