Football has held a special place in Nolan Shafer’s heart ever since he was 7 years-old and saw a Wee Arrow walking down the hallway at school. Shafer went on to play for Tecumseh Cubs football until he was in sixth grade, earning the position of starting Center during his 5 years there. The middle-schooler’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the game is so deep, when his career with the Cubs ended, the Cubs’ Board offered him a new job as the Cubs Football announcer.
Shafer accepted the job, and he has quickly become a fan favorite.
“Nolan (has) an old soul and offers lots of inspiration to others,” explains Emily Berner, a member of the Cubs Football Board, “On the last day of football (last year) we placed our league champ/ tournament champ sticker on the score board. Nolan spoke to the team and wore a full suit, jacket, tie, everything...He knows any sport stat you can think of. He had said at one time he would like to be an announcer or sports analyst, and a kid has to start somewhere!”
It takes more than having the right voice to be successful in the announcer’s booth. The ability to entertain while helping fans keep track of the action adds to the excitement of the contest, heightening every fan’s experience of the game, no matter what side of the field they are on.
According to Berner, Shafer’s budding style does all of that.
“(Nolan does) a wonderful job. He came to the first away game, watched, and took home a copy of the roster to practice. Each game he adds a little more to the announcing, even adding in some old football trivia. Everyone has loved it and he does a great job for both teams playing that day.”
Shafer is conscious of the importance of his job. He began adding facts about the history of football to make his style unique and add entertainment value for the crowd, “Most people just say who the ball carrier and the tackler were,” explains Shafer.
However, announcing the names of the players who ran the ball, make the tackles, and score is Shafer’s favorite part of the job, “It makes me and the player feel good,” he says. Still, figuring out who made the tackle can be challenging sometimes, so Shafer teams up with a friend who helps him keep track of that.
Kirk Herbstreit is Shafer’ favorite sports commentator. Shafer says it is because Herbstreit “is very educated about football, isn’t biased, and always seems confident.” According to Shafer’s mother, Allison Wallace, her son’s style reflects the famous analyst’s.
“I like that (Nolan) is non-biased. Obviously, he is there as a Cubs announcer, but he (also) shows excitement when the other team scores. He is funny and does more than just say numbers. He just goes out of his way to make it interesting.”
Wallace says she also has other reasons to be proud of the job her son does announcing the games.
“Nolan has always been one to follow the beat of his own drum. He is not scared to be himself and talk into a microphone in front of all those adults. (Fans) just tell me how funny he is and what a great job he does. They say he should do it as his career.”
At this time, a career as a professional sports commenter is not on Shafer’s radar. Instead of being the next Bob Costas or Howard Cosell, Shafer, who is also an honor student, says he would like to be either a civil engineer or a lawyer instead.
Perhaps due to his famous “old soul,” Shafer is practical about how his experience as the Cubs’ announcer will help him in the future. “I think this will help me by staying confident,” explains Shafer, “The reason why you need to stay confident is, if you don’t, you won’t get things done.”