By Joe Cicchino - Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing
If you have followed Germantown Academy athletics over the past four years, chances are you have heard the voice of Cory Miller ’22. Those in attendance at games can find him easily thanks to his signature Aviator sunglasses – an item that Varsity Boys Soccer Head Coach Kurt Wetzel ’88 said this story could not be written without mentioning – or by following a trail of brightly-colored extension cords that will no-doubt get stepped on and unplugged. However, it is probably not the spectators in attendance who are most familiar with the senior, but those who, for whatever reason, could not make the game.
Miller has been doing public address announcing, play-by-play, and livestreaming eight different sports for Germantown Academy. What began with cellphone recordings and voice-overs of games morphed into a production with student volunteers, graphics, and student-athlete and coach interviews.
“Few have made the impact in GA athletics that Cory has,” Director of Athletics and Varsity Baseball Coach Tim Ginter said. “What he has done over the course of the last two years has been nothing short of amazing. He is a pro, period. The future is bright, and I truly believe we will be listening to him on TV or the radio one day. I am going to miss him.”
Miller made his last call on May 20, during GA baseball’s 6-1 win over Shipley School in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Tournament opening round. Although he is finished calling games for the Patriots, his legacy as “The Voice of GA” will stand for the foreseeable future.
Miller will graduate this month as a lifer at Germantown Academy. While Springside Chestnut Hill Academy was an option way back when, Miller thinks the atmosphere, the environment, and inclusivity at GA was what set the two apart.
The thought of calling games did not cross his mind in Lower School or Middle School, rather Miller had dreams of being a professional athlete. He played soccer for a long time, but found more success in tennis and baseball, yet enjoyed the latter more and played on the Middle School team for GA. That passion for sports bled into the classroom as well, something Wetzel spoke about fondly.
“Cory, as a Middle Schooler, used to sneak into my room and leave me notes about how great the Yankees were,” Wetzel said. “Their record, what place they were in, or just YANKEES! on a piece of paper. He was always one who would say hello, even though he was not in my homeroom class, and he loved to talk about how great his beloved Yankees were compared to the Phillies.”
Varsity Girls Basketball Head Coach Sherri Retif, who has also known Miller since his Middle School days, remembered when she first found out about his command of a mic.
“He was selected by his classmates to be the 8th grade final assembly speaker,” Retif said. “He knocked that out of the park. It was at this time that I discovered how much of a natural he was in front of a microphone; smart, funny, and connected to his audience. He has demonstrated those same skills as the announcer for GA sports.”
Miller played baseball up until his freshman year. He said he still loved watching and talking about the game, but the desire to play was not as strong as it once was so he went back to tennis, playing the sport for three years at GA. It was also during his freshman year that Miller started to dip his toe into the broadcasting game.
“I would go to sporting events and start doing voiceovers on my phone during the games,” Miller said. “People thought they were good and kind of funny, and that’s kind of what gave me my start. It wasn’t for the school; it was just a little side thing. I would sometimes record the games and talk quietly on my phone, sometimes I’d just record it, go home, and do a voiceover there. Originally, it was more meant to be funny than serious, but when I found out people enjoyed it and I enjoyed doing it, that helped make the transition.”
In the fall of 2019, Miller met with then-Director of Athletics Josh MacArthur to see if there was anything he could do for the school. At the time, livestreams were not as popular as they are now, so being the public address announcer at home basketball games was the closest thing available.
A few months later, the idea of a radio broadcast for GA football games came to be after the acquisition of some audio equipment. A test run was done when the Patriots took on Malvern Prep before launching with a radio broadcast when GA played Episcopal. Technically it was not Miller’s first call – he took over as the public address announcer for the second half of a football game earlier that season – but it was the first full broadcast.
“Doing the play-by-play for the Episcopal game, there were a little bit of nerves,” Miller said. “The nice thing is, you’re up in that little booth so no one can really see you. It was just recognizing it’s a little bit harder than doing stuff on my phone.”
From there things only got bigger. He talked with Head Football Coach Matt Dence in the spring of 2020 about building upon the radio stream by adding a camera, some guests and livestreaming home games. The only problem was, Miller did not know how to run the livestreams.
He said he spent a lot of that summer learning the behind-the-scenes work but was not ready to implement a plan immediately. So, in the fall of 2020 with the help of Play-by-Play Productions, GA streamed the home football games with Miller doing commentary. That winter, with the audio equipment, newly downloaded software, and access to a video camera, he felt comfortable enough to take control.
“I said to Mr. Ginter, ‘I have the software on my computer, I have the audio and video equipment, is it alright if we keep streaming winter games’ and he said ‘absolutely,’” Miller said. “We ended up streaming maybe five boys and girls basketball games all together.”
“During the 2020-2021 school year, he kept GA athletics a part of people’s lives with his live streaming,” Ginter said. “When no one was allowed in the gym, Cory was there to be their eyes and ears. His dedication, professionalism, and pride in his school and classmates allowed people to stay connected to GA athletics.”
Before his senior year, the broadcast took another step forward. With some help from Simon Rosenwasser at Play-By-Play Productions, the proper equipment and software was acquired to handle the livestreams. The “GAme of the Week” followed shortly.
With the streams now being a full production, some assistance was needed. Miller turned to his friends, but also to the Sports Information Club. He said he sent out emails asking for help and throwing in the incentive of an activity credit if enough hours were met. Soon enough, it seemed as if the productions were doing their own recruiting.
“Some friends of mine and other people just started helping out,” Miller said. “I think in part because they saw their friends doing it and having fun, so they were attracted to it and that’s what drew more people to it.”
Despite all the assistance, there were still duties that only Miller could get done. He would attend practices to get a feel for the team and pick up information from players or coaches, just like professional broadcasters. Varsity Girls Soccer Head Coach Chris Nelson took things to the next level and even invited Miller to actually practice with the team.
“If I don’t sound like I know what I’m talking about, that’s going to make the game less fun to listen to,” Miller said. “I love to go to practices because it reveals a lot about the teams, the players, their expectations. I also think it’s good for me to show that I’m invested, I’m not just a random guy who shows up and calls the game. I want to make sure I get all the right information I need. It’s never a bad thing to be overprepared. You want to use as much information as possible, but if you don’t get to everything it’s okay. But if you didn’t get enough, then there are long awkward pauses. I’ve had to condense what I’ve put together a few times because I used to have like eight pages of notes.”
Miller also pointed out an instance of how attending practices helped during a boys basketball broadcast this season. He said he was at the practice prior to Senior Day and Quinn Korman ’22 was knocking down shot after shot from behind the arc. The next day, Korman drained three three-pointers in the first quarter of the game.
Others have taken notice as well, especially those coaches. Assistant Athletic Director and Varsity Boys Basketball Coach Matt Dolan said that Miller’s work ethic and loyalty to the teams at GA is “unmatched.”
“He is as talented and versatile at what he does as I’ve come across over my years at several institutions,” Dolan said. “He genuinely enjoys giving back, and I appreciate the focus and professionalism he conducts no matter what sport he is covering. Speaking as the basketball coach, Cory was as committed as anyone in our program. A regular at practice, Cory worked hard to learn the player’s tendencies and our style of play. He knew the game, and the attention to detail in practice allowed him to make keen and astute remarks during the broadcast; enriching the experience for the audience at home.”
“I’m a big Cory Miller fan,” Dence said. “I coached Cory for Middle School baseball. He’s a great person and he connects with people. It’s a lot more fun that way. Watching this grow and him be passionate and selfless about it – being behind the camera isn’t always fun, everyone wants to be the star, but him having this path is awesome.”
Wetzel added that Miller, who will attend Syracuse University this fall, was always respectful and professional in asking questions, whether they met in the classroom, on the field or by Wetzel’s car following the game.
“His ever-present smile made it really hard to not answer his questions,” Wetzel said.
With hundreds of games called and streamed, picking out a definitive favorite seems like a tall task. However, one stands out to Miller. It also happens to be “an all-timer,” according to Ginter, and the call that Wetzel said still gives him goosebumps.
“The PAISAA Tournament for GA boys soccer,” Miller said. “They were playing Episcopal in the second round; it was tied at one and went to penalty shots. Episcopal scored their two, then Joe Joe Cava ’22 stops three-straight to send us to semifinals, but I think my call was kind of memorable - ‘See you Thursday night in Chestnut Hill.’”
Miller said calling the girls basketball game against Penn Charter this winter, the Make-A-Wish basketball games, and the game where Jordan Longino ’21 set the GA scoring record as other memorable moments. Being able to announce faculty-student volleyball games, Relay for Life events, multiple Senior Days, and being selected to speak at graduation by his peers were all just added bonuses.
On the flipside, there are not many regrets besides not getting to call a home run for the GA baseball team. Miller hopes to follow in the footsteps of people like Bob Costas and Flyers’ play-by-play announcer, Jim Jackson; the latter whom he knows personally and has gotten to work with over Zoom. However, he will not soon forget the interactions and relationships that helped make his broadcasts a hit and earned him the title of “Voice of GA”.
“The player’s and coach’s acceptance and embrace of what I do has been one of the most meaningful things ever for me,” Miller said. “I like to think that what I’ve done has been impactful, it’s made a difference, it’s been great for the teams and my calls have been meaningful and that they’ll last. The most meaningful thing above all else has been the interactions I’ve had with everyone -- students, athletes, coaches, parents, teachers, whoever – telling me I did a great job with the game, saying that they look forward to the games that I do. That’s meant so much to me and made me feel like I was a part of all this community. I have this little niche role and that’s really special.
“For me, and a lot of people, you’re always looking for something you’re passionate about and finding a place in the community. The fact that I’ve found that in part because of all this support and this opportunity, it has been truly meaningful. I’m proud of the hard work that I put in, but I think what I’m most proud of is the exposure for the GA sports teams and the fact that I was embraced to this level by the whole community in this role. That’s been so meaningful for me. It’s a title I’ll never forget.”