From the field to the booth

Junior takes his love for sports to a new level


Photo courtesy of Jon Willis

Junior Jon Willis began commentating in his junior year of highschool and continues to pursue his dream of being a professional sports commentator.

Miguel Paredes Reyes, Assistant Sports Director

Sportscasters and media personnel are typically seen as the ultimate job destination for non-athletes who love sports. Getting paid big sums of money a year to talk in front of a camera or into a microphone about something you already talk about on the daily. It’s something most sports fans would love to be able to do but a lot don’t know how or where to start. Junior Jon Willis is currently on the path of making his dreams come true.

Willis has been a sports fan his whole life both watching and playing sports of all kinds. Since before he was born, his family has been a part of a softball league at Seymour Smith in which his father, Josh Willis, continuously played on a weekly basis. His family kept on feeding his love for sports being avid Nebraska Husker and Green Bay Packers fans. Jon even played years of football up until his freshman year when he decided to hang up the cleats and step into the broadcast booth. 

“Once I realized I wasn’t good enough to play, I still wanted to be involved in sports,” Jon said. “I took up commentating to see if it was for me because I wanted to be more involved and after the first game, I loved it and realized this is what I want my career to be.”

Even though he chose to quit playing them, his love for sports never diminished. In between his sophomore and junior year, Willis decided to start commentating Millard West games which is how he met journalism teacher Mark Hilburn, who gave him the opportunity to commentate games on Striv. After realizing he loved the craft, he decided to get further into it and even created his own website and podcast named Jon Willis Talks Sports. After months of doing this, he decided to take it up to another level and reach out to potential guests he could have on his show, his first guest, Creighton University play-by-play announcer John Bishop.

“It was such a surreal experience,” Willis said. “I’ve listened to John since I’ve been a Creighton fan and to be able to sit down and talk to one of my idols was something very cool for me. He’s one of the reasons I got into sports commentating, so getting to have a normal conversation with him was such an amazing experience.”

By commentating games through Striv, Willis was able to meet new people and open up new opportunities for him. Shortly after he was able to get accepted into the Striv Academy where he was first introduced the idea of starting his new podcast but also he met one of his co-commentators on the mic, senior Cody Bennet, who he would form a strong bond with throughout the year.

“Jon has really shown passion throughout the year I commentated with him,” Bennet said. “Although it was cut short, I was really excited to commentate baseball with him one last time.”

Throughout this whole experience, Willis has had nothing but support and encouragement from his sports enthusiastic family. 

“It’s awesome to hear him on the air,” Josh Willis said. “It seems to come so natural to him, and I’ve always been amazed at how quickly he can learn about a team or a sport leading up to an event.”

New episodes on the Jon Willis Talks Sports Podcast go up every Tuesday, make sure you tune in and share with your friends. He has also brought on a new co-host and plans to take episodes longer and filled with more content.