The Voice Behind the Microphone
It's a Friday night at Pilot Grove High School. The Tigers are hosting the Prairie Home Panthers, but this story isn't about a basketball team. Instead it's about a young man behind a microphone.
"I came to figure out that Sean had a love for athletics. Sean wasn't going to play athletics; wasn't going to play basketball, wasn't going to play baseball," said Pilot Grove Head Coach Rick Grunden.
"I've always said that there's two things you have to have to work at the table there. One, you have to have a talent to do what you actually do, and two, you have to have absolutely no talent to play here on the court, and I fit that criteria perfectly," said sophomore Sean McCarrell.
Sean McCarrell uses his talent as the voice of the tigers. A spot he's held since eighth grade.
"Coach Grunden took over as Athletic Director, and for whatever reason he saw something in me and put me behind the table," said McCarrell.
Through a microphone is one of the few ways Sean can show his emotion. At birth, doctors diagnosed him with Moebius Syndrome, a disorder that affects nerves in the brain.
"I cant blink or squint naturally and I can't smile, naturally with both ends of my mouth," said McCarrell.
A sun allergy keeps him from being outside for long periods of time. So playing sports outdoors isn't an option, but that wouldn't keep him away from the games.
"I wanted to be involved in sports somehow. I thought I'd try broadcasting, get a great seat, get to watch the game for free," remarked McCarrell.
"We turned him loose on the mic, honestly it was a little scary at first because I'm giving the microphone to an eighth grader, but he took it and ran with it," said coach Grunden.
I walked into the gym that night to a high school basketball game, and I heard this voice. I said to the person next to me, 'Who have they got announcing, that guy's got a deep voice.' I walked in and she said, well look. So I walked in, and it was Sean," said Sean's mother Vicki McCarrell.
"It adds to the atmosphere, the fans build off that," said Coach Grunden.
"I just walked in and saw him, and I was like, whoa, he's really good," said Vicki McCarrell.
Sean says being behind a table with this microphone calling games for Pilot Grove gives him the power to forget about his disorder.
"You hear athletes talk about when they're on the field or the diamond, or on the court. It's kind of a nothing else matters situation, that's kind of what it's like for me," said Sean.
And he has a support group behind him.
"I walk across the gym floor here after games and people tell me how great a job I'm doing. I have people in the stands waiting for me, telling me how good a job I do," said Sean.
Giving his voice to the Tigers isn't something he takes for granted.
"I'm incredibly lucky to be in this position, to be here," said Sean.
Sean says after he graduates from Pilot Grove, he wants to attend the University of Missouri and major in broadcast journalism.
He also says he wants to follow in the footsteps of Tiger radio broadcaster Mike Kelly.