Dream Come True: KWTX’s Pete Sousa fills in on ESPN’s The Longhorn Network
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - KWTX Morning Anchor Pete Sousa, who has spent weekends for years crisscrossing the country working behind the scenes in the broadcast booths of college games, said it was a dream come true to be in front of the camera broadcasting this past week for The Longhorn Network, owned by ESPN.
The lifelong sports enthusiast, who just celebrated 10 years of sobriety and has been very open about his journey on a weekly podcast, says being on a platform which has the potential of reaching 20-million homes is a dream come true, despite his uphill battle in getting there.
“It was the culmination of a lot of work and a lot of experience,” Pete said. “I’ve been calling a lot of games in front of my parent’s tv set, calling games in college, and then kind of getting away from it and then coming back to Waco and getting the opportunity here to call games for our Friday night football game and then doing games with Baylor. So just a lot has gone into this, and it’s been a total dream of mine to call games on this level, so it felt incredible.”
Pete got the call up to the “big leagues” after longtime broadcaster Keith Moreland, a three-time All-American at Texas, underwent heart surgery.
Pete has worked as a spotter for ESPN for years, basically meaning he’s off camera feeding information to on-air hosts.
Over the past two years, he’s had the opportunity to get in front of the camera for college baseball and basketball on the ESPN family of networks but never to a potential audience like that of The Longhorn Network.
Pete said the opportunity came as a complete surprise.
“I had kind of been on the radar for ESPN and their Vice President of baseball, basically, the guy who hires everybody. I had talked to him, but I just didn’t feel like anything was ever going to happen,” Pete said. “And then I got an email because Keith Moreland had a heart procedure and they needed someone to fill in and so it happened so fast.”
Pete’s first game for the network was Thursday as the Longhorns played Sam Houston State. He returned Thursday and Friday in the series against Kansas.
He was asked to broadcast Saturday’s game but had a prior commitment.
“The best part was just settling down and managing the game and just being there and taking a moment to just kind of breath,” Pete said.
During Pete’s three-game stint, Texas player and El Paso native Ivan Melendez was approaching the all-time homerun record in a season for Texas.
Pete knew he’d likely get the chance to make the call for his 28th homerun, which would tie the record.
As he prepared, he leaned on advice from legendary broadcaster Jim Nance.
“I knew to prepare for it. I listened to Jim Nance, and he said ‘hey when you’re on the precipice of calling a big moment you kind of want to have something in mind because, if you don’t have something in mind, you’re not doing your job,’” Pete said.
“I got a chance to call it and it was incredible,” Pete said.
Pete took in the booth with him the nametag he wore while working at Kentucky Fried Chicken while living in a halfway house after getting sober.
He says it always keeps him grounded.
Pete’s on-air performance was met with rave reviews on social media with one viewer tweeting “You were fantastic last night! Those are big shoes to fill!”
Sports host and announcer Tom Duerr wrote on Twitter “You did a FANTASTIC job! Great work as always.”
Another viewer tweeted “Y’all called a great game together. Impressive if this was your first game in the booth.”
Pete said he wanted to thank John Morris, the Voice of the Baylor Bears, and KWTX-TV General Manager Josh Young for believing in his abilities and giving him opportunities.
He isn’t sure when he’ll broadcast for the Longhorns again but says if he gets the call, he’ll be ready.
Moreland told the Austin American Statesman he is doing well following surgery and expects to return to the booth in August.
Melendez broke the season record in the Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma Sunday.
Pete is 10-years sober.
His podcast, “The Payoff with Pete,” is produced through Rogue Media Network on Washington Avenue in Waco.
It’s available on ITUNES, Spotify or just about anywhere you get your podcast.
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