JOHNSTOWN, Pa. –Ray Schmitt finished college less than three years ago. Already he has achieved a lot in his professional career working as the play-by-play radio announcer and director of communications and customer relations for the the Johnstown Chiefs, an ECHL hockey team.
The Winber, Pa., native attended the Pennsylvania State University, spending all four years at University Park. When he originally started at PSU his head was filled with the hopes and dreams of one day being an on-screen television sports personality. After reaching his junior year he had achieved little on-screen recognition, and enrolled himself in Penn State's ComRadio program. Simultaneously he tried out for the Penn State American Collegiate Hockey Association Division One Nittany Lion Icers as a walk-on. A mishap with a broken skate blade halfway through the tryout ruined any chances he had of making the team.
Within days the Icers' head coach approached the ComRadio scouting for a play-by-play radio announcer with a deep knowledge of hockey, Ray jumped at the opportunity. He called for the Icers for three seasons, and was one of two students who got the opportunity to travel to road games with the sports team for ComRadio, traveling to Ohio, Illinois, and Rhode Island with the players.
Ray reflects on his travels with the Icers as his most important non-academic endeavor at Penn State. He learned professional relations skills that still help him today, attaining interviews with players and coaches, how to develop positive working relationships, etc. Schmitt even learned a little bit about how to properly prepare for road games, from his travels with the Icers, still making sure to bring his hoody with him on the bus.
While at Penn State Schmitt called PSU Nittany Lion football games for the radio, as well as State College Spikes (single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) games. He also applied for and received an internship with the Johnstown Chiefs during his senior year, as a PR and Media Relations intern. While there, he studied with the Chiefs' previous radio announcer. Upon graduation Ray was hooked on the idea of calling hockey games.
He sent résumés to every ECHL and American Hockey League team that was hiring, and his old internship replied first, without even receiving a cover letter. He heard the day before it would be announced that the old radio announcer would be leaving the Chiefs and he over-nighted his resume from his home to the War Memorial Arena, home of the Chiefs team and operations. He was hired a month later, getting paid 75 dollars a game, as a part-time announcer. However, soon the front office went through a GM change and Ray was offered the front office desk job on top of his radio duties.
He continues to excel in Johnstown, mapping out his career route to one day announcing for the National Hockey League, leading armies of interns in their dreams, having already assisted previous interns to customer relations positions in the AHL and Major League Baseball. Visit the Chiefs' website for a game schedule, and you can always hear Ray Schmitt, the voice of "Chiefstown" broadcasting for free over the Internet at the same site.