When Tulane fans tune into ESPNews on Saturday to watch Green Wave football, the voice coming out of their televisions and tablets may sound a bit unusual.
They’ll be greeted to the sights of Rutgers’ High Point Solutions Stadium at 11 a.m. by the sounds of Beth Mowins, the assigned play-by-play commentator for Tulane’s tilt with the Scarlet Knights. It’s nothing new for Mowins, who has been calling football for ESPN networks since 2005, but for some viewers, listening to a female broadcaster is still a novel concept.
“I know there’s always someone who is watching and listening who hasn’t heard a female call a football game, but it’s just another week for me,” Mowins said. “My job is to focus on bringing the best experience possible to a viewer.
“Those who have come into the game with an open mind have been very positive, and I think people who may not like change and may not want women infringing on their world, you take them with a grain of salt because you can’t please everyone.”
After 24 years in the television business, with assignments stretching from Syracuse tennis to Ohio State football and a litany of NCAA championships in between, not much distracts or derails Mowins from her assignment.
The former Lafayette College point guard has never been shy about being acutely interested in sports. In junior high, she barked out the action on the football public address system at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in New York, and Mowins was an admitted annoyance on every field at the playground, informing whoever was within earshot of the events unfolding.
“I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be the one making the big plays, so I figured I’d be the one telling everyone about it,” Mowins said. “It was a perfect fit for me.”
But when she broke into the business, there were no female voices calling live action. Some made appearances in the studio and others on the sideline, but it wasn’t until Pam Ward was handed the reins of ESPN’s Big Ten afternoon broadcasts in 2000 that a female was the predominant voice on a televised football program.
Five years later, when Mowins entered the fold, she became the second. It’s a responsibility she carries seriously.
“I understand when I walk into the room and I’m the only girl, that maybe people will notice if I really mess up, so I better be pretty good at this,” Mowins said. “But I think growing up with three brothers and a father who was a coach, I was regularly the only girl in the gym, so it’s nothing new.”
Her colleagues hardly seem to notice. Producer Tom Scofield and color analyst Joey Galloway, who will partner with Mowins in Tulane’s game from Piscataway, N.J., said her gender never enters a conversation throughout preparation or in the game’s execution.
“We talk to coaches and players, and no one ever treats her differently,” Scofield said. “She’s just a professional who really understands television and is about as reliable as anyone you’ll find in this industry.”
Galloway, who spent 16 seasons in the NFL and starred for the Buckeyes, said he was the one who slowed down Mowins when he was teamed with her three years ago. While Galloway may have had an abundance of knowledge about what was taking place on the field, he was a novice when it came to the television booth.
Mowins showed him the various techniques and rhythms necessary to call a game and allowed Galloway to grow into the role. While he’s heard various quips from people about Mowins’ gender and lack of on-field experience, Galloway always fires back in defense of his partner.
“She’s not a woman doing a man’s job,” Galloway said. “She’s a professional doing a job as well as anyone else in the business. I held her back for years because I wasn’t sure what was going on most of the time, and she carried those games like it was no extra effort for her at all.
“When people watch the game, unless they have something against her to begin with, I can’t understand where they can find fault. She knows what she’s doing, and I think our viewers recognize that.”