CJ Surprenant is the “Voice of the Knights” basketball games

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

If you caught any St. Mary’s Knights’ home basketball games that were streamed on Facebook Live this winter, you no doubt heard announcer CJ Surprenant providing the play-by-play of the game. Judging by the comments from those watching, CJ was a hit as a novice sports announcer. The most commonly seen comment was, “Awesome job, CJ!”

St. Mary’s sophomore CJ Surprenant spent the basketball season broadcasting the Knights girls’ and boys’ home games on Facebook Live.  CJ is pictured following the boys’ final home game, on March 24, with the Sub-Section Championship plaque they won that night.

CJ is a 10th grade student at St. Mary’s High School and this was his first experience calling games — he also ran the video camera. He was on duty for all girls’ and boys’ home basketball games.

“Mr. Woitas put out a school-wide announcement that someone was needed to stream [video of the games] and I was the first to answer,” said CJ. “The announcing was Mr. Woitas’ idea too, and I knew it’d be a challenge and a new experience.” 

CJ said he did play basketball as a younger student, so is familiar with the jargon used to describe the action on the court. “But, sometimes I do look something up to find the term I want,” he said.

So, is this a career in the making? Does CJ plan to continue announcing games next year, if the opportunity is still there?

“After this season, absolutely,” said CJ. “I’m looking to get my degree in sports communication or broadcast journalism after I graduate from St. Mary’s. It’s definitely something I could stay in for a while, I think it’d make a great career.”

CJ said the start of the basketball season presented challenges.

“To say that I had a ‘rough start’ is an understatement,” he said. “Between microphones, wires, cameras, software, and connection, we were hit with our fair share of hurdles. We were able to overcome those with help from a lot of different people, which I’m very thankful for.”

“Being able to do this during such a historic season was undoubtedly the best part of this experience for me,” CJ said. “I got to see the girls score 100 points in a Saturday game, and watch the boys’ double-overtime win over Sleepy Eye Public, firsthand. The success of the programs beautifully coincided with the opportunity to broadcast, leading to a better experience for everyone.” 

CJ said, most of all, he wanted to thank everyone who helped him broadcast games this season.

“This was truly a collective effort with a lot of behind-the-scenes people,” said CJ. “Judd and Jen Walter were supportive and helpful from day one. Jacob Lux, a senior at my school, taught me how to use the equipment, and was my go-to guy whenever something needed fixing. Mr. Roufs and Mr. Woitas let me know just how much the school appreciated the broadcasting.”

“I never thought it would have the impact it did, and it’s something I’ll remember for years to come.”