No Rima Reason – A Most Memorable Moment For The Sportsguy

GaryRima

This past June my wife Marla Kay and I made the trip to Salisbury, North Carolina so I could receive my 2013 NSSA Iowa Sportscaster of the Year award. It was an incredible and humbling experience.20140609_233402 My wife is a Charles City middle school teacher and the varsity cheerleading coach at Charles City High school. With us living in Charles City Ryan Kronberg, the Sports Editor for the Charles City Press wanted to write a story about my award. I thought Ryan did a great job putting into words, better than I could have, my experience and feelings about this award and the trip. Below is the article in its entirety.                                                             

CC Man Behind the Mic – UNI broadcaster Wins National Award, Again

By Ryan Kronberg Sports Editor

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — A passion can evolve into a career. A career can morph into a lifetime of memorable journeys, moments one will never forget. He does his job with passion and excitement, bringing University of Northern Iowa football and men’s basketball games to life on the radio across the state and around the world online. Turn a radio on during a fall Saturday, or Wednesday and Saturday nights in the winters and one can often find the signature call of “Oh baby! I love this team!” echoing through the airwaves during those events.1402195876971 Then there’s the familiar ring of “kaboom!” when a Panther men’s basketball player drains a 3-pointer, none more legendary than when Ali Farokmanesh drilled his triple to seal Northern Iowa’s stunning upset of top-seeded Kansas in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

“Gary loves the Panthers and he is passionate about his job,” Northern Iowa men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson said. “He isn’t afraid to wear these emotions on his sleeve. “He’s a walking, talking billboard for Panther athletics.”

For Gary Rima, he turned his love of sports into a 40-year broadcasting career. Earlier this summer he was given the Iowa Broadcaster of the Year for 2013 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He was given his award during the NSSA Awards Banquet in Salisbury, N.C.

“I’m living proof that you can accomplish those dreams,” Rima said.

His roots are in the back roads of the Iowa countryside. He discovered a passion for sports at a young age growing up in Strawberry Point and landed his first job in radio at 19.

“I’m just a small town boy from Strawberry Point, Iowa, who had a passion for sports,” Rima said. “I got into sports broadcasting at 19 years old and stayed with it.” His road to being one of the state’s elite broadcasters came a bit unconventionally, jumping straight into broadcasting. “I’m just a self taught play-by-play guy,” Rima said. “I love what I do.”

• • • Rima’s journeys haven’t always been a smooth dribble down the court.20140610_000139

“I’ve had some ups and downs in my early years in a sports broadcasting career, but I stuck with it to where your peers recognize you as the Sportscaster of the Year. … I’m proud of the fact that I’ve put together a 40-year sports broadcasting career,” Rima said.

Rima’s story of perseverance and dedication to a craft is one all can emulate.

“That’s the thing I love to instill to young people is to figure out what your passion is, figure out what it is you love to do and if you can turn that passion into your profession and stick with it, realizing you’re going to face adversity … You can have a successful career.”

The award comes as a reflection to the quality of Rima’s work, a task he does simply and professionally every time he puts the headset on describing to the listening audience the action on the field or on the court or on his daily afternoon sports talk show on KXEL Radio in Waterloo.

“The game you cover is the story,” Rima said. “You’re trying to portray to the listening audience what’s going on at that game. That’s the story. You’re not the story. It’s the game.”

Panther patrons and coaches have come to respect and love Rima’s work.

“Gary’s the voice,” Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley said. “He brings the excitement to the radio, brings excitement to the game. People listening to the game know as soon as they turn the radio on what game they’re listening to just because of the voice he’s got.”

Rima’s professionalism shines through on the Panther Sports Network broadcasts, his preparation and knowledge of the players, coaches, opposing teams giving the listening audience a complete feel for what’s ongoing.20140609_215246_1

“He is the ‘voice’ that our fans have come to know and recognize as synonymous with Panther basketball,” Jacobson said. “Gary gives us the extra flare while being professional that all programs aspire to have.” Rima’s work unites Panther Nation, whether they’re just down the street from the UNI-Dome or McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, or listening halfway around the world online. “What’s neat about Gary is he has something that identifies him,” Farley said. “Without even known his name, without knowing he’s saying who’s on the field, you can identify the voice. He brings excitement to that.”

Panther patrons, coaches and players know what to expect when Rima speaks to the world.

“You know when you go to the chair with him one, he’s going to tell the story, but two, he’s going to tell the story that’s respectful to the program. He does his job and does it in a very professional way,” Farley said.

• • • Rima was honored as the Iowa Sportscaster of the Year for second time in 2013. He won his first Iowa Broadcaster of the Year award in 2008. The honor in 2008 shocked Rima, left him curious.

“I didn’t even know there was a National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association,” Rima said. “I didn’t even know this organization existed.”

He started looking up background on the organization.20140609_220848 Rima soon realized this award put him in some elite company. Previous Iowa Broadcaster of the Year winners included legendary voices such as Jim Zabel, the longtime voice of Iowa football, Bob Brooks of KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Ron Gonder of WMT radio in Cedar Rapids, as well as Gary Dolphin, voice of Iowa men’s basketball and football, and John Walters, the voice of Iowa State football and men’s basketball.

“As I started digging into it, this is a pretty nice deal,” Rima said. “All of these guys that have won it, I was like ‘Wow. This is pretty neat to be mentioned and receive an award those guys have also received.’”

At the time the 2009 awards banquet was to be held, Northern Iowa baseball was in the midst of its final season. Rima was broadcasting the games on his own then and chose not to go to North Carolina for the awards ceremony, instead opting to call a Panther baseball weekend series at Missouri State.

“I put the coverage of UNI baseball together on my own. I found the radio station to air it, streamed it on the Panther website. I sold the advertising aired during the game, then did the play-by-play, did all the games by myself. So I’m thinking I can’t go to this awards weekend. I felt I couldn’t leave and not do that weekend of baseball, so I didn’t go.”

Upon finding out of his win this past year, he knew a road trip to North Carolina was coming.

“When I was named the 2013 Iowa Sportscaster of the Year, I said to my wife ‘We’re going,’” Rima said. “I don’t want to miss it again. I’ll probably never ever win it again. We’re going to go I’m so glad we did.”

The weekend in North Carolina was chocked full of activities. On their first day out there, writers and broadcasters were treated to a welcoming dinner and party at the Toyota Racing Development Center, located just outside of Salisbury. Toyota brought in a handful of its drivers to speak to those attending. • • • One of the highlights of that night for Rima was a showing of “Carry On,” the story of the year. It highlighted the journeys of Dartanyon Crockett and Leroy Sutton, two youths from inner city Cleveland. Crokett is legally blind and Sutton had both of his legs crushed in an accident. The two met up in high school, joined their wrestling team. The story first broadcast in 2009, showed their relationship with former ESPN producer Lisa Fenn and what their lives have been like since.

“What a way to start the weekend,” Rima said. “It was really emotional, awesome story.”

On Monday, legendary broadcaster Marv Albert and longtime Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com writer Rick Reilly were inducted in to the NSAA Hall of Fame.

courtesy UNIPanthers.com

courtesy UNIPanthers.com

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was named National Sportswriter of the Year for the third time. National Sportscaster of the year Mike ‘Doc’ Emerick accepted in abstentia, unable to attend due to calling game three of the Stanley Cup Finals at Madison Square Garden in New York. Some 60 sportswriters and sportscasters were on hand to receive their awards, including Rima.

“They rolled out the red carpet for everybody,” Rima said. “It’s a huge deal to be a part of this. “It was really an impressive, humbling experience to realize that you’re part of something with all of these other national guys that are sportscasters and sportswriters,” Rima said. “You cover sports and try to do a good job. To get recognized on the national level — it was pretty special.”

Earning the recognition from his fellow writers and broadcasters humbled Rima.

“The thing with the NSSA Awards — it’s by your peers, your contemporaries, the other sportscasters and sportswriters in the state vote on who they think is the sportscaster of the year is or who the sportswriter of the year is. For them to acknowledge the job you do is special.”

Traveling to North Carolina for the ceremony is once-in-a-lifetime experience for the veteran broadcaster.

“When you go to this event and realize you’re in the same building with some of the greats from all across the country, then on the national level — the Marv Alberts, the Bob Costas, the Peter King and Rick Reillys, guys like that — you realize it’s a pretty special moment,” Rima said. “It’s one of those life events that happens that you’re like I didn’t expect it do happen.” His passion, love of the game being recognized at the highest level. “I’m not out doing the games to get awards,” Rima said. “I’m out there enjoying what I do, just having fun covering sports and broadcasting sports. “To be honored for your work — it’s a pretty special life event.” with some of the greats from all across the country, then on the national level — the Marv Alberts, the Bob Costas, the Peter King and Rick Reillys, guys like that — you realize it’s a pretty special moment,” Rima said. “It’s one of those life events that happens that you’re like I didn’t expect it do happen.”

His passion, love of the game being recognized at the highest level.

“I’m not out doing the games to get awards,” Rima said. “I’m out there enjoying what I do, just having fun covering sports and broadcasting sports. “To be honored for your work — it’s a pretty special life event.”

       Thanks Ryan for sharing my story and experience this past summer! – Gary Rima