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Beth Mowins is Ready to Make History

Mowins is about to become the first woman to call play-by-play for a nationally televised NBA game.

As the NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary season, the league will reach a new and important milestone on Friday when Beth Mowins becomes the first woman to call play-by-play for a nationally televised NBA game.

Mowins, Jeff Van Gundy and Cassidy Hubbarth will call a playoff rematch between the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks on ESPN, an achievement that’s not lost on the 54-year-old.

“That’s kinda cool,” Mowins told Boardroom. “I have come to appreciate that a little bit more over the years and understand the significance of it.”

Mowins is one name on the growing list of women in the broadcast booth on local and national NBA telecasts. Kate Scott and Lisa Byington are both in their first years of calling games for the Sixers and Milwaukee Bucks respectively, while Sarah Kustok is the award-winning TV analyst for the Brooklyn Nets and Holly Rowe is in her first year as a hybrid analyst and reporter for the Utah Jazz, among others.

“I’m honored to be a part of this group, and hopefully it’s not so out of the norm the further along we go,” Mowins said. “And I think for a lot of people, Doris Burke was such a pioneer and broke ground and has shown everybody what a woman is capable of and [is] just a great basketball fan and a true pro.”

Mowins grew up in Syracuse, playing basketball as the daughter of a coach. She always knew she wanted to go into broadcasting and as she progressed in her career, she learned how to make everyone around her better while getting the most out of herself. It’s helped Mowins call everything from the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 to Monday Night Football and college basketball for ESPN, the NFL on CBS, and select Chicago Cubs games on its new Marquee Sports Network.

“That versatility has served me well,” she said. “They say don’t say no for no particular reason, and so when somebody offers you an opportunity to do something, I relish the opportunity to just dive in and figure out what it’s all about and incorporate that into your broadcast.”

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Mowins is no stranger to history-making moments. In 2017, she became the first woman to call play-by-play for a nationally televised NFL game. She is also the first woman to be the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Cubs.

Despite the wide range of sports that Mowins calls, she finds the day-to-day preparation to be generally the same. So while calling Friday’s game will be unquestionably historic, it’s not something that’s necessarily new to her.

“It tends to maybe hit me after the fact,” she said, “but usually when you’re in the moment you’re just in the here-and-now and working to make sure that the broadcast is as good as it can be. And maybe afterwards, you sit down with an adult beverage and rehash things and enjoy the moment.”

And calling a game and talking hoops with Mowins’ fellow Upstate New York native Van Gundy will certainly be a thrill, so will be the opportunity to show an audience of millions what’s possible for women in broadcasting.

“I love the whole idea of ‘if you see it, you can be it,’” Mowins said. “Maybe there are young girls out there who are big NBA fans and want to stay in the sport and stay around the game and may consider a similar path one day is kinda cool.”

During a period of a few years that has seen a lot of progress in women broadcasting men’s games, Mowins’ game broadcast will be yet another moment of progress in a career defined by them.