MEQUON, Wis. – Matt Menzl is The Voice of the Falcons.
The Concordia Wisconsin graduate, now 32, has been broadcasting games for the Falcons for half of his life and broadcasted his 1,000th Falcon game last Friday. His talent and skill has made the Falcon Athletic Network a place fans, alumni and parents visit constantly for live coverage of home events throughout the year.
You most likely have never met the voice that calls the games you watch or listen to and probably don’t even know what he looks like or his story. What you do know is that his preparation, information and energy brought to each broadcast is what you appreciate and draws you back for another game.
It all started decades ago when Menzl was younger, running around on the soccer field with his youthful peers, but his unathletic abilities began to show. Meanwhile, his love for sports, stats and talking became evident immediately by his parents and himself.
As a Cedarburg High School student, he took it upon himself to obtain a VHS camcorder and a microphone to broadcast Bulldog events and send the tapes to the local cable access channel for public viewing. After a year of calling home and away games, he felt the urge to do something bigger and better. He emailed the late Rick Riehl, back in the days when email and the internet were in their infancy, to ask about working at the collegiate level while still a high school student.
Riehl (the Sports Information Director) quickly called Menzl to invite him to campus and talk about broadcasting Falcons sporting events, which hadn’t been done at Concordia Wisconsin to that point. After some discussion and watching of a basketball doubleheader, it was determined that the teenager filled with vigor was the man for the job.
After many discussions with the IT and AV departments at Concordia Wisconsin, the remaining home basketball schedule of the 2002-03 season and a few road games in the spring were broadcasted with the single VHS camcorder setup.
When Menzl entered his freshman year as a Falcon, he had the play-by-play job locked up and any other students interested would have to be his partner as the color commentator. The unique situation allowed games to now be streamed via the internet as an audio-only broadcast. At the time, Concordia Wisconsin was the first school in the area providing fans with a way to stay in touch with a Falcon team or student-athlete.
“The experience back then was awesome, but a headache all in one” noted Menzl about his early days on the call. “We were at the mercy of technology and the wireless card and its signal or the computer were not always working properly. Early on we used to get a lot of feedback from fans saying things weren’t working and it was a feeling out process, and we took our lumps along the way. It was fun though because we did home and away games and nobody was doing anything like that back then.”
Over the course of time, technology greatly improved and allowed what was then the Concordia Sports Network to be rebranded as the Falcon Athletic Network (The FAN) and audio-only broadcasts evolved into live video for home events.
Another chance during Menzl’s time with Concordia Wisconsin was the addition of many sports that he had never broadcasted or knew anything about; such as hockey, lacrosse and field hockey. He learned the nuances of each new sport and how to call them, and the main sports he grew up with were also the ones he was still working on to perfect his craft.
Of the many sports he has broadcasted, his love of basketball will always remain strong and since he stepped foot on campus he has broadcasted many, many victories, buzzer-beaters, highlight reel plays and championships. Menzl has been a part of many teams and Women’s Basketball took him in as one of their own while he was a student and continuing to this day.
“Matt has been a part of Concordia Wisconsin Women’s Basketball since I arrived in Mequon,” the 14th-year head coach Stacey Brunner-Jones stated. “He is always professional, even when he was a college student. I've watched him grow and continue his career, and I'm always impressed! What I cherish the most is his loyalty and friendship. He's always kept a special place in his heart and career for CUW and I am beyond thankful for that.”
Concordia Wisconsin is a place which has allowed Menzl to grow as a professional in a variety of ways. From his early days broadcasting audio-only games to now video streaming home games, those experiences gave him the opportunity to test the waters at other places. He was the voice of UW-Green Bay Men’s Basketball for years before recently becoming the head play-by-play broadcaster for the UW-Milwaukee Women’s Basketball team, traveling around the country with them. He has also called a plethora of WIAA State Championships for Fox Sports and Spectrum Sports, while also working for TMJ4 and the Lakeshore Chinooks (on the campus of Concordia Wisconsin).
The seasoned broadcaster knows one thing about Falcons athletics: that coaches and student-athletes have always respected his work and treated him like a member of the team.
“The coaches have been awesome and I would tell you not much has changed since day one,” Menzl expressed. “A lot of the coaches haven’t changed and it’s been nice. I’ve gotten to know the coaches personally and they treat me like family. I enjoy the relationships I have and don’t take them for granted. CUW is a special place and it’s because of the people and the family atmosphere.”
As the games accumulated over the years and the department has grown more and more successful, the Voice of the Falcons has remained the same. Menzl has broadcasted many, many games and his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
“It has been an honor having Matt serve as The Voice of the Falcons for so many years,” Director of Athletics Dr. Rob Barnhill said. “Matt has become synonymous with Concordia Wisconsin athletics and has in many ways spearheaded our growth as a department. He has brought information and joy to tens of thousands of CUW fans, alumni, parents, and student-athletes. He is an important part of the fabric of CUW athletics and the University on whole.”
Menzl has seen senior class after senior class graduate and excel in professions outside of Concordia Wisconsin and the memories he has experienced along the way can be told for hours and hours. What he may not know is that the students who have worked with him over the years have also taken some of his advice and work ethic and used them in their own careers.
“As a young college kid, I learned from Matt a lot about not only sports broadcasting but also work ethic, commitment, doing the right thing and quality preparation,” former broadcasting partner Nathan Schwanz expressed. “He really helped shape me and the left a lasting impression. A lot of those qualities that have helped me have a successful career outside of sports broadcasting I picked up from Matt. That’s why I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.”
The experienced broadcaster has taken his talents to other places and experienced championships while forming relationships along the way, but one thing is for sure he always feels the need to return home.
“It means a lot to be known as The Voice of the Falcons,” Menzl said. “It’s something you look back on. I have been fortunate enough to have people with faith in me and allowed me to show my ability. It’s a compliment to everyone along the way and what we have been able to do and where this department is going. This is home.
“I have had opportunities to go elsewhere and experience DI or semi-pro athletics and that’s fun, but this has always been home. I still tell people to this day “Don’t forget where you came from.” You always want to go where the jackpot is and make the big bucks, but don’t forget where you came from. Enjoy where you are at. When people associate me with CUW it feels right and it’s special. It’s a testament to all the people who have allowed me to do what I do and to those that have been supportive.”
Concordia Wisconsin is pleased Matt Menzl has not forgotten where he came from and the players, coaches, alumni and fans are fortunate that the Voice of the Falcons has been a part of the athletic fabric for 16 years and 1,000 games.