Billy Packer speaks with three students from DeSales student newspaper, The Minstrel. Students, left to right: Larry Lowry '12, Paul Rakszawski '11 & Kevin Enright '11. Photo by Brandy Barbera '09.
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“Try to do enough research and work so you feel prepared,” advised Billy Packer, Emmy Award-winning sports personality, during a special student discussion session in the DeSales University Center on Tuesday, April 14. “When you’re prepared, you experience relaxed calm and aggressive confidence.”
Packer, who is considered the most accomplished broadcaster in all of college basketball, was on the DeSales campus to deliver the 26th Annual Frank L. Marcon Lecture in Billera Hall on Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day, he took part in the student event, attended by more than 35 DeSales students from all classes and majors.
Packer’s bold yet humorous personality was seen early in the hour-long session when he began calling on students randomly to hear their questions before he proceeded with the program. After getting a feel for his audience, he shared experiences from his grade school years through to present day that were interspersed with sage advice and warm-hearted reflections.
“Taking part in the student session with Billy Packer was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Darnell Braswell, ’10, sport management major and the first men’s basketball player in DeSales history to earn First Team All-American earlier this year. “He entertained students with funny stories, but at the same time, he touched on important issues in sports today.”
“It was nice to hear Packer, who was raised in Bethlehem, give the Lehigh Valley Credit for his progression as a person and athlete,” added Braswell. “It also was great to hear him talk about the many opportunities for an athlete here in the Lehigh Valley.”
Born in Wellsville, New York, Packer was raised in Bethlehem, Pa., where he graduated from Liberty High School. His father, Tony Packer, was a long-time Lehigh University coach.
Packer shared fond childhood memories of attending elementary through high school with Al Senavitis, DeSales Head Golf Coach and DeSales faculty member. His admiration for Senavitis was obvious as he recalled the athletic escapades of their youth.
He also stressed the importance of research, preparation, and integrity in broadcasting. Packer served as color commentator on network television broadcasts of college basketball for more than three decades. Prior to his departure from CBS Sports last summer, he covered every NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, including the Final Four, since 1974.
Packer encouraged students who want to pursue broadcasting to take advantage of as many local opportunities to be on the microphone or on TV that are available.
“Billy Packer suggested we volunteer for something that is meaningful to us and then incorporate it into our work,” said Brandy Barbera, ’09, communications major with a focus on the business of sport and event planning. “Packer’s advice is so true. No amount of money is going to make you happy, if you don’t love what you do.”
Packer began his broadcasting career in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1972, when he was asked to fill in as an analyst for a regionally televised ACC game. He became a regular the next season and served until 2008. He served as lead college basketball analyst for NBC Sports from 1974 to 1981, and for CBS Sports from 1982 to 2008.
According to Packer, to be successful, you must prove you can be part of a team, then a team leader. As a team leader, you focus on how you will make the team members better. This, said Packer, is when you are successful.
Graduating from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with an economics degree, Packer did not concentrate in broadcasting, communications, or journalism. He stressed the world of a broadcaster, as either “feast or famine.” Rather, Packer admitted he considers himself a businessman 99 percent of the time and broadcasts basketball as a hobby.
Packer acknowledged the recent passing of Harry Kalas, referring to him as a legend in the sports world, a great fellow broadcaster and human being.
Barbera stated, “He spoke so kindly of the late Harry Kalas when they met briefly at the Hall of Fame event. He described Kalas as a humble man, which is why everyone liked him.”
The afternoon student discussion session was followed by a public lecture in the evening at which Packer gave a heart-felt speech expressing his gratitude for what the Bethlehem community had done for him. The audience included many old friends and acquaintances who were especially touched by Packer’s reminiscences about living in Fountain Hill and attending Rosemont Elementary, Nitschmann Middle School, and Liberty high School.
Students in the student discussion session included: Sarah Ball, Jess Bancroft, Darnell Braswell, Chelsea Carle, Johanna Cespedes, Patrick Clifford, Peter Confalone, Laura Fehrle, Brandy Barbera, Rasheida Collins, Melissa Ehrenzeller, Kevin Enright, Tricia Hypolite, Doug Hunt, Adam Gori, Brian Kaelber, Thomas Kohler, Caitlin Lenker, and Larry Lowry.
Also, Jim Malatesta, Matt McManus, Steve McStravick, Mynor Morales, Paige Mullin, Jacque Parker, Paul Rakszawski, Jen Russell, Lauren Sabatano, Caitlin Scott, Cherelle Simmons, Nick Staats, Michelle Stuckey, Mark Vidmar, Matthew Zwetolitz, and Kyle Zehr.
Press Release: Frank L. Marcon Lecture Wrap-Up: Billy Packer Cites Preparation as Key to Success | Posted on: 4/17/2009
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu