Sports announcer uses Mater Dei as stepping stone towards professional aspirations

DOING+IT+ALL%3A+As+aspiring+public+announcer+Omar+Villanueva+Jr.+works+towards+his+goal+of+a+career+in+professional+sports%2C+he+balances+school%2C+work%2C+and+announcing+for+the+Mater+Dei+varsity+boys%E2%80%99+lacrosse+and+baseball+teams+up+to+3+times+a+week.+%E2%80%9CA+typical+day+%5Bfor+me%5D+would+be+getting+up+around+4+AM+to+go+to+work+since+I+work+at+Amazon%2C%E2%80%9D+Villanueva+Jr.+said.+%E2%80%9CIm+a+supervisor+there+for+the+quality+department.+Then+lets+say+I+do+have+a+game+for+Mater+Dei%2C+Ill+get+off+work+a+little+early+and+then+get+ready%2C+drive+over+to+Mater+Dei%2C+and+announce+a+game.%E2%80%9D+He+is+also+a+student+at+Mt.+San+Jacinto+College+and+is+currently+finishing+his+associates+degree.+%E2%80%9C%5BIf%5D+I+dont+have+a+game%2C+Ill+be+doing+schoolwork+in+the+afternoon%2C%E2%80%9D+Villanueva+Jr.+said.

Tia Shackeroff-Reiser

DOING IT ALL: As aspiring public announcer Omar Villanueva Jr. works towards his goal of a career in professional sports, he balances school, work, and announcing for the Mater Dei varsity boys’ lacrosse and baseball teams up to 3 times a week. “A typical day [for me] would be getting up around 4 AM to go to work since I work at Amazon,” Villanueva Jr. said. “I’m a supervisor there for the quality department. Then let’s say I do have a game for Mater Dei, I’ll get off work a little early and then get ready, drive over to Mater Dei, and announce a game.” He is also a student at Mt. San Jacinto College and is currently finishing his associate’s degree. “[If] I don’t have a game, I’ll be doing schoolwork in the afternoon,” Villanueva Jr. said.

By Brigette Ramirez, Mater Dei High School

“Are you using autotune to sound like that?”

This is the most common question public announcer Omar Villanueva Jr. receives when announcing Mater Dei boys’ lacrosse or baseball games.

It’s not every day that audience members hear an announcer such as Villanueva Jr. at a high school sports game, but the only tools he uses when announcing varsity boys’ lacrosse and varsity baseball home games are his microphone and each teams’ lineup.

His voice is deep and full as he announces the starting lineup and each major play of the game. The tone is professional with a hint of Latin flair as he emphasizes each players’ name with energy and enthusiastically commentates positive plays for the Monarchs.

Villanueva Jr. first began announcing athletic events as a senior at Whittier High School where he was responsible for the daily announcements at the school. One day during his senior year he decided to use what he calls his “action voice” – projecting his voice and making it deeper – instead of his regular speaking voice for the announcements. After receiving positive feedback on his voice from individuals around campus, he was asked to begin announcing basketball games for the Whittier High Cardinals the second half of his senior year.

“I got started with that and I really enjoyed it,” Villanueva Jr. said. “I think of it kind of like a production. I want to make it enjoyable for the fans, for the players, and for anybody who visits. That’s how I got started, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

After graduating, the aspiring announcer continued to work with Whittier High School, announcing Cardinal football games that fall. However, he longed for a way to gain exposure and experience announcing for a variety of sports on a larger scale. Growing up in Southern California, Mater Dei immediately came to mind when he thought of local schools with highly regarded athletic programs that drew in a greater audience than his alma mater and, in the case of Mater Dei, even national attention.

He reached out to Associate Director of Athletics Kelly Dullard via email to introduce himself and inquire about possible announcing opportunities at Mater Dei. Luckily for Villanueva Jr., he reached out at the opportune time when the school was in need of public announcers for multiple sports. The Athletics Department brought him in for an interview, and after hearing him perform, they made the decision to bring him on.

“We’re always looking for capable individuals for game management because it is usually late at night during games,” Dullard said. “We asked some preliminary questions and once we saw the audio clip of him announcing, it was pretty easy to make the decision [to hire Villanueva Jr.].”

Villanueva Jr. began his public announcing career at Mater Dei announcing for the boys’ and girls’ varsity water polo and soccer teams. He currently announces for the boys’ varsity lacrosse team and the varsity baseball team in his third year working with the Mater Dei Athletics.

He arrives at each game he is announcing one to two hours before the game to set up his equipment and prepare what he is going to say in order to make each game a positive and fun experience for everyone in attendance.

“[Villanueva Jr.] always makes it a production and an experience for the fans, players, and coaches,” Dullard said. “He’s enthusiastic, he’s professional, and he knows the right times to chime in. You can just tell the kids love it. It really gets them excited for the game. You can feel the energy in the crowd and the players.”

His announcing has a large impact on the players and lends a more professional and elevated atmosphere to the games.

“He makes it seem like it’s more than a high school game,” two-year varsity team member and senior outfielder Jimmy De Anda said. “[Hearing him announce my name] gave me goosebumps the first time. It made me feel really proud and important.”

The announcer also controls the music at games and Villanueva Jr. chooses songs that are high in energy to get the crowd and players excited and engaged in the game.

“Especially with his style of music, EDM, he brings energy and we definitely feed off of his music and the way he introduces our team,” De Anda said. “He makes it seem like, as soon as [the other team] step[s] on the field, that we’re serious. I think him announcing us and playing music just lets them know that, you know we’re here to play.”

“You could really do this professionally!”

This is the next thing the intrigued spectators remark to Villanueva Jr. after hearing that he does not use autotune or any other software to alter his voice when he announces.

For now, he is a student at Mt. San Jacinto College and a supervisor for the quality department at Amazon, but Villanueva Jr. will be starting at a university for his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting this fall and does aspire to be a public announcer professionally one day.

He plans to use the opportunity of announcing for Mater Dei to not only gain experience, but add to his resume and establish himself as a reputable and skilled public sports announcer.

“[Announcing for Mater Dei has] helped me broaden my skills in regards to how to announce at different types of sporting events,” Villanueva Jr. said. “I knew just the general sports like football, basketball, baseball, but I’ve learned a lot more about sports like water polo, lacrosse and soccer. That’s where it’s really helped me create the diversity in my portfolio of different types of sports. Ideally, the goal with doing this public announcing [at Mater Dei] would be to use it as experience for whichever university I go to this fall.”

As Southern California (which is home to the University of Southern California, the University of California at Los Angeles, the Lakers, the Clippers, the Angels, the Dodgers, and numerous other universities and professional sports teams) is a hub for both collegiate and professional sports, Villanueva Jr. plans to stay local for college and continue to announce for Mater Dei as he earns a degree in broadcasting.

“There are so many schools that have great teams sports-wise [in Southern California],” Villanueva Jr. said. “There’s a couple that I have already been accepted to that are local, and I’m just waiting to hear back from a couple more.”

With his natural talent and the skills he has developed over the past few years announcing for both Whittier High School and for Mater Dei, those who hear Villanueva Jr. announce have no trouble believing he can successfully pursue a professional career in public announcing.

“If that’s what he wants to do, I think he’s more than capable of [becoming a professional sports announcer],” Dullard said. “I know he has a great social media account to promote himself and he’s got a good repertoire with the kids and the coaches, so I think he can definitely make it big time.”

Follow Omar Villanueva Jr. on Instagram @mrvoicejr to hear his work and follow along on his journey!

This story was originally published on The Scarlet Scroll on April 25, 2022.