Michigan native is first woman to call play-by-play at men’s NCAA Tournament

Lisa Byington worked as a sports reporter in Lansing, moving to Big Ten network

Michigan native becomes first woman to call play-by-play at men's NCAA Tournament
Michigan native becomes first woman to call play-by-play at men's NCAA Tournament

Lisa Byington grew up in Portage, playing multiple sports, and she thought she’d grow up to be a famous athlete who broadcasters would talk about.

Instead, she is a broadcaster breaking barriers.

Byington said her former boss at WLNS-TV in Lansing has a lot to do with her success on the national stage.

“I was still working full-time as a local sports reporter and weekend anchor. He let me take a day or two -- a vacation day. He would alter my days off sometimes to fit the Big Ten network schedule,” she said.

READ: Wolverine Women’s Basketball punches first ever ticket to Sweet 16

She impressed the network and her opportunities grew. In 2017, she was the first woman to call play-by-play for a Big Ten network football game. That same year, she worked the sidelines of the NCAA men’s tournament.

This year, she moved to the booth.

“They weren’t asking me as a female broadcaster or as as female play-by-play. They were asking me as a broadcaster,” she said.

Byington called five games last weekend. Two of them -- Abilene Christian and Oral Roberts -- turned into major upsets.

When asked how she found the perfects words, she said she thought about the bigger picture -- how fans of that school would feel.

When it comes to the bigger picture for her and all of the women who watched her, she said, “I woke up next day when I was done. I felt three things -- I felt grateful, I felt happy and I felt exhausted. As soon as the announcement came out, I did feel the pressure and I did feel the history piece.”

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About the Author:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.