Former Cowboy behind the mic for play-by-play this weekend
LARAMIE -- The best piece of advice Erick Pauley ever received in the broadcasting industry is to let things come organically.
So, tonight or Sunday, if the Wyoming Cowboys can knock off visiting Nevada, don't expect a well-rehearsed postgame victory slogan coming out of your radio speakers.
"The Score ... Oh, the score" is sacred.
First-year voice of Wyoming men's basketball, Reece Monaco, has dibs on "The Wyoming Cowboys ... Your Wyoming Cowboys ..."
So, what will Pauley's call be tonight from the Arena-Auditorium as he makes his collegiate broadcasting debut?
"You wouldn't believe the amount of people who have asked me that over the past four hours," said Pauley, who will be the fill-in play-by-play commentator this weekend for Monaco. "We'll see. What comes out will come."
If the name Pauley sounds familiar, it's because you've likely heard it before.
Prior to making his mark on the sports broadcasting landscape in Wyoming in places like the Bridger Valley and Fremont County, he was lining up across from opposing centers as a nose guard for the Pokes' football team from 2005-06. Pauley, a Green River High School product, played under Joe Glenn.
"I came right after the Las Vegas Bowl and was done before the next bowl game," he joked.
Unfortunately his playing career was cut short due to a tumor that was discovered on a gland in Pauley's brain. The diagnosis, which took more than a year to find, left the big man feeling weak. There was good reason, too. The tumor affected his testosterone levels.
He said he had "no juice."
"I wasn't a great player, but I was a Wyoming kid who got to play at the University of Wyoming," Pauley said. "My time was cut short because of a serious illness. From that point, my thought was 'how do I stay involved with sports?' That was my identity to that point."
Pauley started writing sports articles for his hometown paper. He did some voice-over work for friends, leaving the recording on the answering machine of companies with his deep, booming vocals. From there, doors began to fly open. From calling Mountain View and Lyman sporting events, to eventually moving to Riverton and becoming the voice of the Wolverines, Pauley is now a fixture on the Wyoming high school sports scene.
He is now the general manager and sports director at the Wind River Radio Network.
There was one more feather though that Pauley was hoping to put in his cap one day. That's why the phone call he received last Tuesday is still so surreal.
On the other end was Kevin McKinney, longtime color commentator for Wyoming football and men's hoops. Brad Poe, the general manager of Wyoming Sports Properties, was also on the call.
They asked Pauley if he'd be interested in calling a pair of Cowboys' games over the weekend.
"My phone rang and I've never been so exciting to get a phone call before," Pauley said from his car this afternoon, where he is currently on I-80 near Sinclair, en route to Laramie.
Is he nervous?
"Butterflies is a better way to put it," he laughed.
Pauley is still soaking it all in. He raved about working next to a Hall of Famer in McKinney and sitting in the chair Dave Walsh occupied for the better part of three decades. He praised the job Monaco has done, not only at Wyoming, but in his own career. He also threw a shoutout to his mentor, Steve Core.
At 6 p.m. tonight when the Cowboys and Wolf Pack tip off, Pauley's hopes are it's a smooth transition from the prep ranks to college. Either way, he's going to enjoy this very unexpected ride.
"I was lucky enough to wear brown and gold, and I can't think of anything better than calling a game for the brown and gold," he said. "It was definitely on my bucket list."