Student announcer jump-starts her career

By Alicen Meysing – News Editor

Sometimes a last-minute decision can do a whole lot of good. Just ask freshman Jasmine Pankratz, who decided last March that Hesston was the best place for her.

Pankratz, a communications major, began to consider Hesston after an interaction with head men’s basketball coach Dustin Galyon. 

“Dustin had actually just finished speaking at my high school last spring,” she said.  “At that point I was planning on going to Sterling college to play volleyball, but after hearing Dustin’s talk I happened to start a conversation with him. He ended up asking me what my major was, and when I told him it was sports communication, he suggested that I consider Hesston.”

It wasn’t long after, that Pankratz found herself visiting the campus, where she was offered a scholarship and an opportunity for real-world experience as a sports broadcaster and commentator, all in the first semester of her freshman year. 

“When I visited I genuinely felt like Hesston was the place where I should be,” she said. “That feeling,  along with the scholarship, I was offered really solidified my decision to attend here.”

Whitcher and Pankratz prepare before a men’s basketball game. Photo by Sarah Booth

Pankratz is now a student sports announcer and she can be found practicing her skills at many men’s athletic events. Along with long-time Hesston announcer Rusty Whitcher, Pankratz provides commentary for those watching online-streaming of an event. As the action takes place around her, she shifts through pages of notes, closely watching the game. 

It didn’t take long for Pankratz to start developing new skills for her future career. Whitcher, who has been announcing games for almost 14 years, has already seen improvement with Pankratz’s work.

“In the beginning, Jasmine was pretty shy when we started broadcasting the games,” Whitcher said.  “But she has come a long way in her duties as a color commentator and we’re having a lot of fun. She’s not afraid to jump in with both feet and she’s not afraid to ask questions if she doesn’t know the answer. She’s also doing a phenomenal job managing the social media aspects of our broadcasts, making sure the folks watching are staying interactive which is great for not only the Hesston fans but the fans from other schools as well.

Pankratz knows that the skills she’s been learning will benefit her later in her career.

“Rusty always tells me that people should be thinking what you’re saying while it’s happening,” she said. “It’s little skills like that, that I think will greatly benefit me later in my career. Rusty also taught me what type of research to do on teams before you announce their games, and I think that’s going to be an invaluable skill for me.”

On top of teaching her new skills, Whitcher says he’s enjoyed having Pankratz as a partner.

I love having her around and her dedication has been great,” Whitcher said. “It’s so great to have stability in a color commentator and not a revolving door of people at the broadcast table. We’ve developed a good rapport with not only each other but the people tuning in as well. I’m excited to keep working with her for the spring sports and I’m still going to get her to do some play-by play. She has an outstanding future ahead of her and I can’t wait to see where it takes her.”

Pankratz will continue to commentate and develop her skills until she graduates from Hesston.

“This opportunity has been amazing for me,” she said. “I truly believe that the information and skills I’m learning will not only be helpful for me now, but will be a great asset for me in the future.”


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