At some point of a television broadcaster’s career, they start to get noticed.
Like, noticed noticed.
“The last two years it’s started to happen, more so in the volleyball world,” says Camryn Irwin, a former standout athlete at Prairie High School who is now a sports broadcaster on Amazon Prime, ESPN and the Pac-12 Network.
“People will come up and ask for photos, or recognize your voice from the across the way,” she said. “For my friends, that’s been different. They will be like ‘Is this really happening?’ ”
Irwin tells a story where she was with AVP Tour co-host Kevin Barnett when a mother and daughter asked if Barnett would mind taking a photo.
“And they handed him the camera to take a photo with me!” Irwin says laughing. “He’s the two-time Olympian! I never went to the Olympics!!”
From breaking into the industry to being recognized is a tough journey.
Ten years ago, Irwin was The Columbian’s All-Region volleyball player of the year as a senior at Prairie. She went to the University of Oregon for a year and then transferred to Washington State. She played setter on the volleyball team, got her degree in communications, and also played some professional volleyball in Europe.
Now 27 and living in Manhattan Beach, Calif., Irwin is in the mecca of beach volleyball.
She was part of the 2019 AVP Tour volleyball broadcast team for Amazon Prime alongside Barnett and Olympic gold medalist Dain Blanton. She also does play-by-play and analyst/commenting duties for volleyball matches on the Pac-12 Network and can also be seen on football sidelines.
It’s all mapped out for her prior to each season, with a few “one-off” assignments here and there.
“I have an agent that manages the scheduling, but I’m a private contractor like many broadcasters are,” Irwin explains. “I work for many different companies.
“My schedule is not a complete surprise, but sometimes it is. One event — a national championship — I got called out the week-of because of some shuffling, so I’m like, ‘OK, here we go!’ ”
Before a broadcaster can get called out to work a national championship on ESPN, they have to start somewhere, and for Irwin, that was working for the school newspaper at Washington State.
She said she figured out early on that she wanted to a be a professional athlete and when that was done, stay in athletics to “inspire those like I had been inspired.”
“I can be a professional (athlete) for a few years and then move on and tell stories,” she said. “It’s a drive and passion in my heart to tell stories and shape the lives of others.”
Irwin does her homework when it comes to being prepared for telling those stories.
A lot of homework.
“Everyone looks and sees the travel, lights, camera, action and it looks amazing,” she said. “But what they don’t see is the behind-the-scenes prep work and amount of travel you do and what my house looks like on a regular basis!”
This is not a complaint by any means. Irwin says she loves what she does and feels thankful for where she’s at, even if that means always having a suitcase on her floor that still needs to be unpacked.
She dives into film on each team, researches players backward and forwards to build scouting reports to help her better educate viewers no matter the subject.
“For a volleyball broadcast, I’ll watch 2-3 hours on each team for a scouting report,” she said. “And that doesn’t even include talking with the coaches.”
Irwin said the best moments for her are the raw sports moments seen every day.
“Those moments of victory and moments of failure, those I really connect to,” she said. “The opportunity to witness them either as a high school, college or pro career … those are things as a former athlete that get to me as a person.”
Irwin was doing sideline reporting for the Washington State vs. Oregon football game in 2018 where quarterback Gardner Minshew led the Cougars to a 34-20 upset of the Ducks and the students stormed the field in celebration.
“I’m like, oh-my-god, I get to witness this victory and Gardner Minshew, but it was actually the moment the fans lifting this guy up around you. It’s a moment you’ll never forget,” she said.
Irwin really enjoys the hosting aspect of broadcasting, which she has done with Amazon Prime. She is working toward being able to produce her own stories.
“Tell the stories to shape lives and influence people,” she said. “I’m getting into content creation and the production side of things. I’m now coming up with ideas and starting to pitch them.”
As she said, everyday is an audition for the next thing.
Current residence: Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Education: Prairie High School (2010), Washington State (2014)
Has been seen on: Pac-12 Networks, ESPN, Amazon Prime AVP Tour
Advice to her younger self: “Be grateful for adversity because it creates opportunity for growth, learning and connecting.”