Chapman student reaches finals in competition to appear on NBC sports show

Of 400 applicants, senior news and documentary major Michael Hoefling was one of 16 to be selected for the competition to appear as a panelist on NBC Los Angeles’s “Going Roggin.” Photo by Ian Craddock

Some people attend college to pursue their dreams after graduation. Michael Hoefling decided not to wait.

Hoefling, a senior news and documentary major, is a finalist on “The Choice,” a show in which aspiring sports reporters compete through debate for a chance to appear as a panelist on NBC Los Angeles’s sports show “Going Roggin.” Of 400 applicants, Hoefling was one of 16 to be selected for the competition. He has advanced to the finals, which will air Monday at midnight on NBC LA.

“All four years, I have been studying to be an on-camera personality,” Hoefling said. “In this situation, it’s more of a debate. Rather than just stating what you believe personally, you are fighting against somebody, which makes me more intense. Chapman has done a good job of teaching me how to handle those situations, and how to balance my brand and personality.

Q: How did you find out about the opportunity?

A: I heard about it from my friend who saw it online. She heard about it from a teacher who said she should try out, but then she recommended that I try out, so I did. I thought it would be cool. I never thought I would get this far.

Q: What will it take for you to win?

A: Just doing what I always do. Everybody brings a different thing to the table. Mike (the other finalist) writes comics. He is a comedian, so he’s got a personality. Meanwhile, I’m a little more intense, and I bring more facts to the table, so it is pretty much knowledge versus presentation. If I can get a little presentation, then maybe I’ll have an edge.

Q: What types of experiences prepared you for this competition?

A: I’ve done a lot of play-by-play commentating for Chapman, the Orange County Riptide, which is a summer collegiate league team, and Chapman News too. That has allowed me to get on-camera time, which makes me less nervous now that I have been on camera close to 300 times. You get less nervous and you start to figure out how to say your words without muffling them.

Q: What sparked your interest in being an on-camera personality?

A: As soon as I figured out I wasn’t good enough to be an actual athlete, I was like, ‘I might as well talk about sports.’

Q: What developed your love for sports?

A: My society. I grew up in Northern California and my dad was a huge football fan, so immediately, I became a football fan, especially because right as I was understanding these aspects, the Raiders went to the Super Bowl in 2002, the Giants went to the World Series in 2002. I would hear my parents talking about it constantly, so I would want to talk about it, too.

Q: What could this opportunity do for your career?

A: That is something that I’m still trying to figure out, because I’m only guaranteed one spot in the future. If I win, I get another spot as a panelist, but I’m not guaranteed anything after that. It is great reel material, but I’m not sure how far that will take me. Just because I appeared once on NBC LA, which is great, the No. 3 channel in the No. 2 market, that doesn’t mean I can go wherever I want, (but I do) feel like it allows me to go to more places.

Q: What does your dream career look like?

A: That is changing every day. For the first three years of my college career, I really wanted to be the play-by-play broadcaster for a Major League Baseball team. But now, I might end up becoming a local reporter somewhere, like New York or Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., or maybe I’m going to become a panelist at a local station, like CSN Bay Area. It all depends on what steps I take in the next couple of months, and what places want me the most.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in the same type of career as you are?

A: Practice. You don’t know how often I hear people say that they want to do this type of thing, but then when I ask them if they want to do some Chapman radio games, they say, ‘No, I want to be on television immediately.’ Everybody has to put in their dues, everybody needs practice. I was atrociously bad the first time I tried to do this, and it took me about 200 games before I really feel like I found my voice and found my style.  

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