By Steve Williams
A football injury caused Tommy Sweat to miss quite a bit of playing time in football and basketball his junior year, but it also may have opened another door for his future in the world of sports.
Tommy is interested in becoming a sports broadcaster.
Sweat, Fulton High’s male Student-Athlete of the Year for 2020-21, is going to the University of Memphis to continue his education in the field of broadcasting.
With Fulton being a high school that provides training in radio and television, Tommy got a head start in sports broadcasting as well as in other types of programs.
“He has been a valuable part of our radio and TV stations over the last three years,” said Russell Mayes, the Radio/TV teacher at Fulton. “Tommy was willing to do anything I asked – from broadcasting games, to interviewing community leaders, to hosting a morning radio show, to producing our football pregame show. I was especially impressed with his broadcasts of softball and baseball games at the end of this year.
“He handled these tough assignments with ease,” added Mayes. “He has a great on-air presence and allows his personality to shine through while giving the listeners a thorough description of the action.”
As a three-year starter at FHS in football and basketball, Sweat certainly is equipped with plenty of knowledge of the games, which should help contribute to making him a good sportscaster. He was a quarterback for the Falcons and also a versatile player in basketball, earning All-District and All-Region honors in each sport.
“Tommy was a big part of the state basketball runner-up team as a sophomore in 2019,” said Jody Wright, the school’s head basketball coach and athletic director.
“He suffered a major injury in football his junior year but was relentless in his rehab and made it back for the last 12 games of the basketball season, helping lead us to the Sectional game.
“Incidentally, it was the injury that sparked an interest in broadcasting,” added Wright. “While he was injured and unable to play, Tommy became the voice of the Falcons on FM radio 91.1 WKCS. He found not only did he love it, but he was also very good at it.”
Sweat last week confirmed Wright’s observation of him really getting involved in sportscasting when he was sidelined.
“Yes, that’s correct, and as we speak, I’m on the University of Memphis campus for student orientation,” said Tommy in a phone conversation. “I’m going to major in Broadcast Journalism and try to get on at a radio station in Memphis while going to school.
“I want to focus on play-by-play and being a broadcaster in general. That’s going to be my career hopefully.”
Sweat said his “love for sports and the challenge of painting a picture of the action” for the radio listener is what excites him about becoming a sportscaster.
When asked what his ‘dream job’ might be someday, he admitted that’s a long way off, but imagined “it probably would have to be calling the UT Vols’ football and basketball games.”
Mayes, who has been the Voice of the Falcons for 28 years, said he noticed special qualities about Sweat and in his preparation that could benefit him down the road in broadcasting.
“Tommy takes pride in preparing for each broadcast,” said Mayes. “I really appreciate the fact that he enjoys listening to recordings of his broadcasts in order to critique himself so that he can improve on future games. These traits will give him a great chance to be successful in broadcasting, or whatever career he chooses. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be his teacher!”
A rare five-sport letterman, Cassie Vaughn is Fulton’s female Student-Athlete of the Year. She participated in golf, volleyball, soccer, wrestling and softball. Earlier in her prep career, she also lettered in basketball.
“Cassie is a tremendously versatile athlete,” said Wright. “Her athletic ability allows her to be successful in any sport she plays. She received numerous honors in these sports and was a vital part of the success of the girls’ softball team this spring.”
Vaughn also was a talented sports photographer at FHS and several of her photos were published in The Focus during football and basketball seasons. She got some experience in sports broadcasting during basketball season too on Falcon radio.