A pool of 200 contestants whittled to 10, and then 10 became two.
Anthony Bellino, a Monroe native and a staple in the area sports community, had a coin flip’s chance to land the position of public address announcer with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His supporters shifted the odds in his favor.
Fortified by a fan vote that attracted followers of area college and professional teams, Bellino learned the other day his voice will reverberate this NFL season throughout EverBank Field. Bellino, 25, called his first of nine games Friday night in the team’s preseason opener against Miami.
Results of the contest were so tight, said Bellino, the organization decided to hire the runner-up, a Jaguars fan, to do pregame announcements. Bellino will take over once the game starts, making calls that will sound something like this: "Chad Henne completes a seven-yard pass to Denard Robinson for a Jaguars first down!"
A Jaguars executive phoned Bellino this week to offer him the job. Silence ensued.
"When he said we want you to be the next voice of our franchise, that to me was the most monumental thing in my life as far as my career is concerned," Bellino said. "That was one of those moments where you pause and kind of take it all in."
Bellino advanced to the final stage on his own volition, emerging from an impressive group of 10 that included public address announcers at the University of Florida and Florida State University.
Bellino, who attained a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications in 2010 from Bowling Green State University, plans to fulfill his obligations with local teams. He currently serves as Mud Hens in-game host and master of ceremonies as well as University of Toledo’s public address announcer for football and basketball.
He recently earned a promotion with the Walleye and beginning this season Bellino will replace venerable public-address announcer Bobb Vergiels who is stepping down after 20 years. At the University of Michigan Bellino announces soccer, volleyball, and baseball.
He will fly to and from Jacksonville for games.
"There will be some conflicts with flights and games, but each individual employer has been very supportive of me trying to make things work," Bellino said. "I plan on sitting down and going through my schedule and seeing which games will work."
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