Javik Blake of Norton started listening to radio sports when he was a youngster. It had an impact on what he wanted to do with his life, and on Jan. 20, Blake, the founder, producer, and lead broadcaster of the Lancers Sports Network, called his 100th sporting event for Norton High School Lancers sports, a hockey game between Norton and Foxborough high schools.
Blake is just 16, a junior at Norton High School. He started Lancer Sports Network way back in the eighth grade. The 100th game and all the others he’s called can be seen and heard at www.lancer-sports-network.weebly.com.
“I’ve always liked listening to sports more than watching, and always thought broadcasting sports was the coolest job in the world, besides playing,” said Blake, who does that, too, as catcher on the Norton High baseball team. “They have to paint a picture for the listener.”
His love of describing sports started when he was 6, listening to New York Yankees games on the radio at night. And, yes, he and his family are huge Yankees fans, the young man said with a laugh, knowing what that means in the thick of Red Sox Nation.
“I get grief all the time,” he said, pushing the fan envelope to its max by adding this about his mother, Jill, a Montreal native: “Her favorite hockey team is the Canadiens.”
“We’d find him in his room, late at night, with the AM radio listening to Yankee broadcasts,” said his dad, Craig, who handles the camera duties at his son’s games, be they hockey, baseball, football, or whatever the Lancers are doing. “His grandparents gave him a book, ‘And The Fans Roared’ [about classic broadcasts] that has a CD with great sports calls.”
The boy listened nonstop, and his parents would hear the results.
“He’d be in his room repeating some of the great calls in sports, like the ‘Miracle on Ice’ Olympics game and Don Larson’s perfect game,” the father said.
“I’d listen to games instead of having bedtime stories read to me,” said the son, adding about the usual two-person broadcasting team, “I had two people putting me to sleep.”
He had no formal training, other than listening to his idols, who include Vin Scully, Gus Johnson, John Sterling, and Jeff Levering. He kept it simple, he said — doing his first broadcast in the sixth grade with the Norton Media Center, a Little League championship game for 12-year-olds.
“I failed miserably,” he said, laughing. “I forgot to plug in the microphone. We had no audio; it was a mess.”
But he corrected, and people listened and watched and liked what he was doing. He grew, got experience, and started his Lancers Sports Network. He got better, and the world outside little Norton took notice: In 2016, Blake was picked as the first Pawtucket Red Sox junior announcer, calling an inning of Triple A professional baseball over the minor league club’s network.
“Javik is a serious broadcaster, particularly for a 15-year-old,” said PawSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg in a story at the time posted on the Minor League Baseball Network website. “Having listened to the recordings he submitted, I would not be surprised if he pursued a career in baseball play-by-play.”
Neither would Norton School Superintendent Joseph F. Baeta, who said, “I can easily imagine listening to him someday broadcasting the World Series or the Super Bowl. No question.”
Baeta calls the young man, a member of the school’s history and English honor societies, “the perfect example of a student with initiative. He has a love and desire and plan to go into broadcasting, and he’s honing those skills at a young age. And the ability to promote other colleagues, his peers, the way he does, speaks volumes of the kind of kid he is.”
Listen to a few minutes of any of his broadcasts, and beside a for-now youngish voice perhaps lacking the bass tone of adulthood, it would be hard to not think this was a professional broadcaster on the job. During a fast-paced Norton High hockey game, for example, he seamlessly kept up with matching player names with on-ice action and sprinkling in stats like power-play percentages as he called the game.
“I sometimes forget he’s a high school kid,” said Greg Brenault, a friend of the Blake family and Javik’s color commentator. “He’s incredibly prepared; he does a ton of research for each game. He’s just a regular kid, but when it comes to broadcasting, nothing about him is regular.”
Blake already knew what he wanted to do as he listened to the greats calling games on radio. He carved his own road to where he is now, and he knows where he wants to be next.
“I’ll go to college to study broadcasting, maybe do some internships there, and after college most broadcasters start their Major League Baseball career doing radio down in the minors,” he said, without an ounce of bravado but a ton of practiced confidence.
“I’ll go to the minors and work on it, get some breaks, and make it to the bigs some day.”
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.