Calling an icon

Millard West alum and his rise to the top


Courtesy @jon_willis on Instagram

When Jon Willis first stepped onto campus at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, he didn’t know what he was in for. Two years later, he’s made improvements he wouldn’t have anywhere else. “My boss at KRVN Jayson Jorgenson has impacted me the most,” Willis said. “If you listen to how I sound and broadcast a game before I started working there and after, it has completely changed. He has given me so much feedback and taught me how to become a better broadcaster, and I’m incredibly lucky I have gotten to learn from him.” Photo courtesy @jon_willis_ on Instagram.

Logan Moseley, Broadcast Editor in Chief, Striv Executive Producer

The Wildcat journalism team has produced great talents over the years. But its newest member of the department has one great voice to look up to: Jon Willis. Although he graduated two years ago, his success has shown just what the journalism program has to offer.

Entering the halls of Millard West in 2017, Willis had different dreams involving football.He dedicated his freshman year to the gridiron to follow his voice, but not in sportscasting, but in choir. Then, his junior year he found his passion, calling alongside his mentor and predecessor in 2019, Cody Bennett and Miguel Paredes Reyes. The trio called the 2019 Millard West football team, and chronicalled their success throughout the regular season, as the team went undefeated, and was one game shy of the state championship. 

After that moment, Willis was hooked, and looked forward from then on out. 

Following his junior year, Willis found his way onto many iconic calls, with his most iconic being at state tournaments just a few years apart. Willis followed the Wildcats 2021 baseball team in their state playoff run, but was on the losing end of an incredible match between the Millard South Patriots, but we will get to the other call in a moment. His first highlight call came as Evan Myersick sent the Lincoln Pius X Thunderbolts packing in the first round of the state playoffs. 

Then, a year after the agonizing defeat to the hands of the Wildcats most hated rival, he got to make the call he was robbed of the year prior.

“A.J. Tauber rakes that one into left field, is it going to go? It is! A.J. Tauber walks it off for Millard West! Walk off home run, Millard West has taken down Q-Street rival Millard South to win the 2022 Class A State Championship!”

“Thanks to Jaden Taylor, I was lucky enough to be on play by play for that game,” Willis said. “There will never be another baseball game like that, and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

But while many spend their summer break relaxing, Willis had no days off. He spent his summer with the North Platte Plainsmen summer league, traveling around the midwest, perfecting his craft.

“The experience I had with the Plainsmen was one unlike any other I’ve ever had,” Willis explained. “I got to completely design how the broadcast sounded, travel across the Midwest with the team, and call more back to back games than I’ve ever had. Having experience like that is something that you can’t just learn in the classroom.”

As a sophomore at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Willis has made new friends, and fellow sophomore Ethan McCormick has been alongside him from the start.

“Jon and I have a radio show every Wednesday and we collaborate on broadcasting football, soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball,” McCormick said. “Jon is incredibly solid in his prep, and how much he cares for what he’s doing.”

Throughout his time calling various sporting events, he has made a lasting impression with everyone that he has met.

“Jon has always been super supportive and is a great guy to call a game with,” former Creighton Prep commentator Brendan Preisman said. “He’s well prepared and always professional, but easygoing at the same time. One of the best I’ve ever called a game with.”

His former partner for the Heartland Hoops classic, Jack McGonigal, mentioned how he made things fun too.

“We’ve done the past couple of Heartland Hoops and a few state tournament games together. He gives good insight at color and has a good radio voice,” McGonigal said. “He knows the balance of how to have fun and joke around while maintaining a professional presence as well.”

When Jon Willis put on the headset for the first time, he found the joy in being able to be a pivotal part of the sports world, without having to go out on the field and give it all he had. He has impacted so many people in ways they can’t even describe. It is safe to say that when it’s all said and done, Willis will be one of the best to come from the state of Nebraska, and his legacy left behind at Millard West will never be touched.