Daniel Gerardi of Arlington Heights will be a sophomore at Hersey High School this fall, and he already he knows what he wants to do with his life's work -- sports broadcasting.
His talent came to light during his freshman year, in a media tech class where he was so entertaining, he now gives the morning announcements to the student body, on-camera.
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"He's already a mini-celebrity," says Dan Vesper, a teacher in Hersey's career and technology education department. "He is so entertaining on camera that kids who don't even know him give him high-fives in the hallway."
In class, Daniel began demonstrating his love of sports broadcasting, especially of calling baseball games. He'd give short clips at the end of class, as if he was calling a Cubs' game.
As it is, he turns the sound down on games as he watches them, doing the play-by-play, just to practice.
"I'm just a huge sports fan," Daniel said. "I love being at games and I just started saying what I was seeing."
Pat Hughes, the radio voice of the Cubs on WGN-AM, is one of his favorites.
"I love the way he describes all the action," Daniel said. "He has such a good vocabulary and uses so many descriptive words to give listeners all this information. It's like you're there."
Word of his interest -- and talent -- in sports broadcasting got to Hersey's varsity baseball coach, Bob Huber. Pretty soon, Daniel was doing the public address announcing for Hersey's baseball games, after his own track season ended.
"He really put some pizazz into announcing the lineups," Huber said. "He'd accentuate their last names and by the third or fourth game, he was very comfortable with it and the response was very positive."
Daniel's debut lasted only a few more games, but Vesper decided to take it a step further.
For the last few years, he has gotten Cubs' TV announcer, Len Kasper, to speak to his sports and entertainment marketing class and DECA Business Club students.
"Len has been so gracious and accommodating to my students," Vesper said, "so I thought I might run the idea past him."
Kasper passed a tape of Daniel calling Hersey's games to his idol, Hughes. One thing led to another, and Daniel finally met with Hughes in the Wrigley Field press box after a recent game, which he attended with Vesper and his father, Michael Gerardi.
"It was such an honor to meet him," Daniel said. "He gave me so many good tips and such good advice."
One of Hughes' tips was for Daniel to tape himself calling games, and then to go back an analyze them. He also encouraged him to read up on the sport he's calling.
Hughes himself reads up to three newspapers a day, he said, as well as online news outlets and blogs, just to stay current.
The other piece of advice Hughes gave his young protégée was to call as many games as possible. Consequently, look for Daniel to be behind the microphone from morning announcements to basketball and baseball games.
"I love it," he said.