The Carolina Mudcats’ director of broadcasting and media relations, Darren Headrick, has used his friendly voice to a fast start in the journalism field by age 28.
Headrick is a native of Maryville, Tenn., a 2007 graduate of the University of Tennessee and currently lives in Knightdale. He took the Mudcats position in 2012, but his passion for broadcast journalism stems back to his high school years as a Volunteers fan.
Q: Did anything specifically trigger your desire to be a broadcaster? “It was around the time when Tennessee won the national championship in football and John Ward was calling the games. Just listening to him and the way he would call it I said, ‘Man, how fun would that be?’ Now, here I am.”
Q: What steps did you take from that point forward to get involved in the broadcasting field? “I didn’t get to do any broadcasting in high school, but once I got to Tennessee I starting interning three years with the Vol Network, starting with my sophomore year. I started doing high school broadcast with Morristown West (High School) my junior and senior year in college. I covered high school football and men’s and women’s basketball there for six years and then added covering the Smokies.”
Q: Where all have you been since then? “I got an internship the Tennessee Smokies, the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate, and was with them for three years. My first job away from home was in 2010, when I left the Smokies to broadcast games for the Wilson Tobs, a summer collegiate league team. Even when I came over here and did the Tobs, since it was seasonal, I would return home and cover the high school sports in Morristown. In 2011 I went up to Oklahoma City and worked for the Astros’ Triple-A team, the Oklahoma City RedHawks.”
Q: Was baseball always the direction you wanted to go? “I started out really into football. Basketball and baseball were kind of there, but as it’s gone on I’ve really fallen in love with baseball. Since it’s such a long year, you really grow a relationship with the players and the people in the front office. Baseball has really become a true passion for me. But I have yet to see a sport I haven’t enjoyed.”
Q: Were you ever overwhelmed by the responsibility of calling games or being the voice of an organization? “The first few games in baseball were pretty tough. I’d never done baseball play-by-play. When you’re broadcasting the game, things can come quickly. Just like a player, you have to let things come to you. Once you get a couple games under your belt and get a little rhythm it becomes pretty fun to call. I’ve always felt the pressure of wanting to live up to what the fans expect from their broadcaster, as well, but have always enjoyed meeting and getting to know the fans and think that’s a big part of it.”
Q: Were you ever overwhelmed by the traveling aspect of the job? “I wouldn’t call it overwhelmed, but it can wear you out. The wear and tear of being on the road everyday sometimes can catch up to you, but the Carolina League isn’t very bad. There are some leagues out there that can make the travel difficult – for the players, the coaches and the broadcasters alike – but compared to others, the Carolina League’s pretty nice.”
Q: How much preparation goes into each game? “That varies from broadcaster to broadcaster. Some guys load up with stats. For me, the prep normally takes two hours the night before and a few hours before the game. Sometimes you have notes you write down that don’t even come up in a game situation. I always try to over prepare, and if I don’t use it, that’s fine. That’s part of the fun, too, is looking up the guys’ history and stats and getting to learn their background.”
Q: How does your work in Zebulon compare to the positions you previously held at other organizations? “With Oklahoma City, Wilson and the Smokies, I was dealing a lot with stats and basically doing what an assistant would do, and didn’t have to handle the day-to-day operations like I do at the Mudcats. Wilson had a little bit more involvement, but wasn’t that big of a chore. It’s fun here. I get to meet a lot of others in the media and handle players’ and coaches’ interviews, and our front office is great. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know the Zebulon community and the surrounding towns and counties that come out here to watch the Mudcats. I’ve got nothing to complain about at all.”
Q: How have you spent your time during the baseball offseason? “I broadcast part of the baseball season for the East Carolina Pirates. I’ve also spent some time doing North Carolina Central women’s basketball, so I’ve had my hand in broadcasting in the offseason. Other than that, I’ve spent some time watching movies, recharging batteries and getting set to go for the April 5 opener.”
Compiled by Aaron Moody