Over the last few years, the name Cody Beckett has become synonymous with WMEB and University of Maine hockey. As the current sports director and lead hockey play-by-play announcer, Cody has immersed himself in the sports broadcasting scene at the University of Maine.
With hockey season winding down and Cody's college broadcasting career coming to an end, we thought it would be a perfect time to catch up with Cody to get his thoughts on his time at UMaine, his experiences at WMEB, and what he'll remember most (both sports and non-sports related) about his time in Orono.
So, without further adieu, we are proud to present the latest guest in our FTS Q&A series...Cody Beckett!
FTS: What's your major and year of graduation?
CB: Journalism major, Class of 2014
FTS: Which dorm(s) did/do you live in on campus?
CB: I lived in Androscoggin my freshman year, and Hancock was the place sophomore year. I've been off-campus ever since. My current house has a ice rink in the back yard. It's pretty cool.
FTS: That is VERY cool. Aside from that ice rink, upon your first return to the UMaine campus after you graduate and leave for good, where's the first place you'll visit?
CB: Alfond Arena. There's nothing quite like that place.
FTS: What have been some of your favorite classes while at UMaine?
CB: Digital Journalism taught me a lot. I of course loved Sports Journalism, and surprisingly Astronomy was one of my favorites.
FTS: What made you decide to attend the University of Maine?
CB: I've always loved the state of Maine. My family has gone fly fishing at West Branch Pond Camps just north of Greenville, ME for generations. Despite being born in Massachusetts, I've always loved spending time in the state. I was fortunate to receive enough financial aid to come here. I'd also be lying if I didn't mention that hockey didn't also have something to do with it. I haven't always been partial to the Black Bears, but got a lot of exposure to the program through watching multiple Hockey East Championships at the Garden, including the incredible 2004 final in which Maine defeated UMass 2-1 in three overtimes.
FTS: Speaking of great Maine hockey memories, what is your favorite memory from this year's Frozen Fenway?
CB: Identifying one thing is so difficult. I'd just have to say the entire spectacle. I've been to Fenway Park countless times (including the 2012 Frozen Fenway) but being in the press box and broadcasting a game was a dream come true. Add in the fact that it was a Maine-BU hockey game that also included an hour long rain delay, and I can truly say that it was a once in a lifetime experience.
FTS: How did you and Whitneigh build your on-air chemistry?
CB: The simple answer is experience. We're both hockey-minded, so it was only a matter a time before we began to gel as a broadcasting team. We were both adjusting to new roles, myself as play-by-play guy and her as color commentator, so we were going through the ups and downs together. I'd like to think that we've become quite the well-oiled machine at this point.
FTS: What's the biggest difference you've seen in the Maine hockey team this year over last year?
CB: Compete level combined with discipline. On multiple occasions last year it was easy to see that Maine just didn't want it as much as their opponent. There were strides made at the end of last year, which carried over among the younger crop of players. Combined that with a new emphasis on discipline and accountability, and we've seen a much more consistent effort this season, despite their road record.
FTS: What do you think of Maine's chances in this year's Hockey East Tournament and NCAA Tournament?
CB: I think they have legitimate shot at both. The road to the NCAA's is much more difficult with the losses against Providence to end the regular season, but as Red Gendron proved last year as an assistant with Yale, all you have to do is get into the tournament and anything can happen. But if Maine wants an at-large bid, they're probably going to have to make it to the Garden in the Hockey East Tournament.
FTS: What other sports do you like besides hockey? Who are your favorite pro teams?
CB: I enjoy watching football and baseball. Along with hockey, I played golf and lacrosse in high school. I'm looking forward to The Masters coming up in April for sure. But from October to June, my focus is primarily on the NHL & college hockey.
FTS: What do you hope Karlton Creech's top initiatives are as he settles in to the AD role?
CB: I hope he focuses on boosting the experience for fans at the sporting events, particularly with men and women's basketball. The hockey program is in good hands and will always be OK, and football has been drawing a better crowd in recent years. But there is a big drop-off in attendance and enthusiasm surrounding the Maine basketball program which is a shame. Mainers love their high school basketball, and there's no reason why that can't carry over to Maine Basketball. The easiest answer is to start winning, and with Creech's background at North Carolina he should know what it takes to build a successful basketball program. A trip or two to the NCAA tournament for the men or women would be a good boost in national prominence for Maine athletics.
FTS: Who are your broadcasting heroes?
CB: I grew up listening to Gary Thorne call huge NHL playoff games in the late 90's, and with him being a Maine and WMEB alum, he has to be near the top of the list. Jack Edwards is also someone I look up to. Despite him being a UNH guy, I can't help but enjoy his demeanor on the air, even if non-Bruins fans despise him. Say what you want, but the man has fun behind the microphone.
FTS: What are some of your hobbies outside of sports and broadcasting?
CB: I try my best to keep the rust off my skates, as well as hit the links during the summer. I also spend a decent amount of time playing the latest versions of NHL, FIFA, or Halo video games. All of these activities enhanced by the company of good friends and a frosty beverage of course.
FTS: What's your fondest non-sports related memory from your time at UMaine?
CB: I hate to be cliché, but when I think back to my time at UMaine, I'm going to first and foremost remember the great friends I've made and the great times we've had. The people here in Maine are awesome. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything else, and I'm extremely sad to see it coming to a close.
FTS: What's the most embarrassing moment you've ever had on-air?
CB: Oh, where to start. Our talk show Unsportsmanlike Conduct can get pretty out of hand and into some pretty ridiculous topics that have nothing to do with sports. My first broadcast was a women's basketball game my freshman year. That was pretty brutal. I'm no basketball expert, let alone when it comes to the women's game. But it was a great learning experience. You have to put yourself in uncomfortable positions sometimes. It was a valuable lesson.
FTS: On a more positive note, which of your on-air moments are you most pleased with and proud of?
CB: Frozen Fenway was obviously one of my proudest moments as a broadcaster, but calling Maine Football's CAA Championship takes the cake. To watch that team grow for two seasons and to have it culminate with their first outright title since the 60's was amazing. Unfortunately the season ended on a sour note, but watching that trophy be lifted on the sideline of Morse field was something special.
FTS: What are your short-term and long-term goals after you graduate?
CB: My short-term goal is similar to that of just about every college graduate; find a job. Long-term I'd love to have a job in hockey in any capacity. It's been a lifelong passion for me, and to make it a career would be awesome.
FTS: What are you filling your stein with these days (drink of choice)?
CB: Now that the Olympics are over and I can set allegiances aside, I'm back to drinking one of my favorites, Molson Canadian. I'm hopeful Maine Hockey makes it to the Garden as I hear you can now get Yuengling in Boston.
Photo courtesy www.wmebsports.com