Scott Chester, voice of many Miners sports, announces for Major League Rugby
If you’re going to Salt Lake to catch a rugby game featuring the Utah Warriors, the new team established as part of the fledgling Major League Rugby organization, you might hear a familiar voice. Scott Chester, who has announced Park City High School sports for years, is calling rugby matches at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City and Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.
Several weeks ago, Chester said he received a message from Kimball Kjar, the Warriors’ general manager, asking if he was interested in becoming the voice of the professional rugby team. Chester was, and he sent over examples of his work with the Miners.
“He knew I knew nothing about rugby,” Chester said, adding that the organization offered to teach him about the sport.
To prepare, Chester said he “read every ‘rugby 101’ manual” he could get his hands on. He also practiced the players’ names and played around with different ways of saying “Warriors.”
“The first roster I got was astounding,” he said. “There were 15 names on there that were 80 percent vowels.”
He had no idea how to approach the names of the players, many of whom are of Pacific Islander descent. The club helped by hosting what Chester said was an hour-long meeting on pronunciation. He followed up by recording the players saying their names, then writing them out phonetically so he could see the pronunciation on a page when he needed it.
Of course, there were still surprises.
“I had a great one the other day, where I practiced a player’s name over and over, but I forgot to practice the city he was from, and he was the first guy out,” Chester said. “I said his name, then I saw where he was from, and the word — Tokomololo?”
He scanned the audience and the bench for a negative reaction.
After the game, he said he scrolled through comments on social media.
“Not just to improve, but I was worried,” he said, adding he was concerned he’d butchered the pronunciation.
Then there’s the game of rugby itself, which is fluid and fast-paced. Chester describes it more like hockey than football, because there are fewer breaks in play.
“Picking the right spot (to talk) is important,” he said. “(The game) only stops when the ball is out of play and they put it right back in. There’s no timeouts for any team, none. It’s quick, super fun.”
Another factor that makes it more fun, Chester said he gets to be an unabashed homer.
“When the other team makes a mistake, we’re playing “Dilly Dilly, Dilly Dilly,” Chester said. “Or (playing) ‘Shake it Off’ by Taylor Swift for a rugby guy is pretty fun.”
It’s all part of his marching orders to create an enthusiastic environment, while providing some information about the sport.
“I’m just trying to bring where it’s a good experience for the fan that loves rugby, and for the fan that loves rugby but doesn’t know it,” he said. “That’s a hard line. You don’t want to talk down to the guy that does know rugby, but you also have people sitting there like ‘what’s that?’”
Chester said the whole experience is a far cry from his work with the Miners, but even with its challenges, it’s something he could get used to.
“I’ve always said I didn’t care if there were five people in the stands or 5,000,” Chester said. “But it definitely felt different when you look out and there’s 10,000 fans.”
The Park City High School baseball team was knocked out of the Class 4A playoffs on May 15 when they lost to Bear River 8-6.