'This is Kayla Harmon reporting'

Friday, April 8, 2016
Lewisburg native Kayla Harmon and UT Martin senior is all smiles as she displays the trophy she won as the IBS Sports Director of the Year. Photo submitted

Former Tigerette sets sights on sportscasting

Kayla Harmon grew up in a sports family and was surrounded her entire life by sports, playing softball and basketball at Marshall County High School before graduating in 2011.

"There's not much to do in a small town besides play sports, so of course that's what I did. I played them all, so I got to learn them all," Harmon said. "I loved it and when I graduated high school, although I decided not pursue a college scholarship, I knew I had to do something with sports."

Harmon went to UT Martin and that's where she found her calling in the sports broadcasting arena, working for the college's radio station WUTM.

Sports journalism

"I considered the journalism aspect because I enjoyed writing and every time the paper came, I was flipping straight to the sports section to read it first," Harmon said. "When I actually got in college though, I attended a basketball game and saw someone on the floor, commentating it. I approached them after the game and asked how they got that opportunity. That's when I learned about broadcast performance and WUTM."

Harmon's hard work in broadcasting and love for sports paid off as she rose to the position of Sports Director at WUTM and recently Harmon received recognition for her efforts when she was named the Sports Director of the Year by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System.

"I didn't get to actually go to New York to receive me award, but some of my co-workers were there to accept it for me," Harmon said. "I was in Nashville covering the Ohio Valley Conference basketball games; however, I was completely ecstatic and humbled."

Winning crew

Many of Harmon's co-workers at WUTM, which won the Best College/University Station (under 10,000 students), also took home awards at the ceremony in New York City on March 5 as Tori Seng won Best News Director, Chuck Hammer was awarded the Best Program Director and Ashleigh Burton and Blake Stevens won Best Spot News.

"To perform successfully in this business, it requires a lot of time," Harmon stated. "Studying up on the players, getting familiar with their stats and preparing interview questions for players/coaches that you think the general population might want to know. It takes a lot of time, but since it's something I enjoy, it doesn't feel like work anymore."

Sporting an impressive 3.11 GPA, Harmon found her path forward and believes the work she is doing with WUTM has given her the experience and the tools to pursue a career in the broadcasting field.

Connections

"WUTM has provided me with so many opportunities, such as doing sideline reporting at Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas," Harmon said. "When we travel to the AP awards, which will be held at Vanderbilt, I get the chance to talk to TV anchors that work on News Channel 2 and sports directors from stations in west Tennessee. It's really cool to have those connections and to learn firsthand and see what it's like."

The Associated Press Award ceremony is tomorrow and Harmon is hoping that she will get some more national recognition at the event.

"I am currently up for five awards, all in the sports field, so I'm hoping for great results there," Harmon said.

Inside knowledge

Kayla Harmon, seen her in the circle for the Marshall County Tigerettes, is pursuing a career in sports broadcasting. Photo by Anthony S. Puca

Playing sports and watching her brother Chandler play baseball gave Harmon an insight into the games and how a player may think in crucial situations during the game.

"As a retired athlete, it's helped me calling the games because I know the mindset, I know what a pitcher is thinking when she gets in a 1-2 count or what a basketball player is thinking when they step to the charity stripe with .3 seconds left in a game," Harmon said. "You can help the listeners get a better understanding of the player and the game rather than just telling them what is going on on the field or the court."

Harmon will graduate in December with a Bachelor's degree in Communications with a sequence in Broadcast Performance and a minor in Political Science, but still has work to do with WUTM and in getting ready for her post college career.

Looking ahead

"I'll continue to call the remainder of the softball/baseball season and then football season," Harmon said. "I've been working on getting a reel together for radio and here soon, we are starting a sports program for UTM TV, so I'll be working on a TV reel here very soon."

Harmon's future is bright and it won't be long that we see her roaming the sidelines, watching her on a TV sports broadcast or hearing her on the airwaves somewhere.

"I have been talking to several different stations in Nashville and here in west Tennessee, both TV and radio," Harmon said. "I've also been submitting resumes to a lot of MLB based jobs, because well, it's baseball. What could be better?"