We got the chance to not only meet but also play with Evan Lepler, popularly known as "The Voice of Ultimate", last year at the 2015 Hong Kong Beach Hat, and afterwards talked ultimate over burritos at our favorite hole in the wall.
Evan's exciting commentary makes AUDL games even more fun to watch, not to mention his encyclopedic knowledge of the game. Based on that, and him just being an all around great guy, we thought who better to ask to take the Greatest Bag for a spin and give us their feedback? So, during last month's World Ultimate and Guts Championships, we passed him a bag.
Here's more on Evan and how he became the Voice of Ultimate, excerpted from an article originally posted on Journalnow.com:
“I’ve had a lot of really amazing opportunities in broadcasting,” Lepler said. “The story of how I got into Ultimate broadcasting was (from) April of 2013. I guess a couple of months before that, USA Ultimate had finally struck a deal with ESPN to put the college championships, the U.S. Open and the Club Championship on ESPN3 and the college championships on ESPNU.
“And a guy named, Michael Gastaldo, Wake Forest class of 2003, he’s the one who emailed me with a job posting that USA Ultimate had put on their website — ‘USAU and ESPN seek color commentator for nationals.’ He emailed me and said, ‘Dude, you have to apply for this. This is perfect for you.’”
Immersed in the heavy day-to-day duties as radio broadcaster for the Salem Red Sox, Lepler, was intrigued but skeptical as to how he could make it work in his schedule. But the more he thought it over, the more he realized he had to at least try.
So he applied and was hired with the stipulation that he be in Madison in nine days.
“My first reaction was, ‘I’m super excited and honored that you ask, (but) I have no idea how I’m going to make this work logistically — but I’m going to try,’” Lepler recalled. “To cap the story, it worked out and I did that and it was an incredible experience flying to Madison and being a part of that coverage.
“I think we did a good job, an OK job, but I really didn’t know what I was doing at that point.”
The 2014 season, when he combined his duties of broadcasting minor league baseball as well as Ultimate, was a blur, so much so that he made the plunge in 2015 to leave the Red Sox and concentrate on Ultimate. In just the past year and a half, he has traveled throughout the United States and Canada and even to Dubai of the United Arab Emirates for the World Championships in Beach Ultimate.
“Thinking back to 21-year-old Evan in that moment,” Lepler mused, “if seven years after I graduate I’m going to get a phone call asking me to travel around the world for ESPN, broadcast a game of the week and I get paid for it, it was like too good to be true.’’
Wherever he happens to be, he spends most of his Tuesday’s knocking out Tuesday Toss, his column which averages around 7,500 words per week with notes and highlight videos from throughout the ever-expanding world of Ultimate. Tuesday Toss can be found on the website of AUDL, the American Ultimate Disc League.
And it is through those prodigious efforts that he is perhaps best known among his Ultimate peers.
“They started calling me the Voice of Ultimate, which is an incredible honor,’’ Lepler said. “Some of the emails I’ve sent out to leaders throughout the world, they’re forwarding them to their team and (copying) me and saying, ‘The Voice of Ultimate is asking for this stuff. Don’t let him down.’
“It’s unbelievable to me. I’m saying hi to my friends after the broadcast Saturday night, and a couple of high school kids are coming up trying to take a picture with me, which is just absurd. I’ve got my college buddies giving me all sorts of (grief).
“Later that night, I had a Facebook friend request. It’s this kid who had already made that photo his profile picture. So it’s absurd. It’s so much fun.
“I hope I can do it for the next 50 years.”
We at Greatest Bag hope so too!