It might be hockey night in Surrey but it’ll have a lot of Abbotsford flavour.
Aspiring broadcast journalist Kyle Balzer signed on the dotted line to be the new play-by-play broadcaster of the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles earlier this summer and he’s ready for Friday’s start of the season after a wealth of experience covering Abbotsford sports.
The 2010 MEI grad had been told for years that he had a voice for radio and shortly after graduating he acted upon it.
“I guess you could say I’ve always liked having a microphone in front of me,” he said. “Once I realized that I still wanted to be involved in sports because I didn’t make a lot of teams, I knew that I could use this skill I discovered and apply it to a career in broadcasting.”
Balzer took several media and communications courses at UFV and eventually hooked up with the Cascade student newspaper and the campus radio station. His work achieved high praise, as he won the 2014 National Campus and Community Radio Association Award for Best Sports Program with co-hosts Aaron Levy and Tyler Dyck.
“UFV as a whole helped me learn how to work in the business aspect of sports broadcasting,” he said. “I recommend UFV for everyone because they do provide the same opportunities as any other big-name school would offer.”
He also scored a position as communications intern for the Abbotsford Heat in 2013. He worked alongside the team’s play-by-play broadcaster compiling stat packages, crafting media releases and helping out on game day.
“The greatest lesson I learned with the Heat is to take any opportunity that comes my way and to make it my own,” he said.
Balzer graduates from the broadcast and online journalism program at BCIT next June, and said the commute from Abbotsford to Burnaby is long but it’s been worth it.
“BCIT has certainly provided a lot of opportunity for me to improve and expand my horizons as a broadcast journalist,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what program you’re in; the school allows everyone to apply their skills and their talents to a real-world scenario.”
His new role with the Eagles sees him cover every home game in South Surrey, with the potential to follow the team on the road if his schedule allows it.
“I’m very excited to call my first-ever BCHL season with one of the most recognized franchises in the league,” he said. “Knowing that I could be calling players that could play in college or the NHL one of these days is incredible. I’m still trying to let it sink in, but once I put on that headset, I’ll definitely be ready to be the best that I can be.”
Local hockey fans might recognize Balzer from his time as the PA announcer for the Abbotsford Pilots. His brother Joel Balzer captains the team this year. He said the strong Abbotsford sports community helped develop his passion for sports.
“I’m just humbled to be where I am right now with the support of my family and friends,” he said. “I always tell people I’m from Abbotsford because I’ve been privileged to grow up here and be a part of the sports community for as long as I have been.”
Balzer kicks off his BCHL run on Friday when the Eagles host the Langley Rivermen. For more information on the team, visit surreyeagles.ca.