Chris Fisher grew up in Sonoma County, graduated Cardinal Newman High School and went off to USC to get a degree in political science. At age 26, he’s in his second year as the play-by-play announcer for the Trojans men’s basketball team. Los Angeles Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth said Chris has a “polished, steady delivery that usually comes with years of practice.”
But the newsman was even more inspired by the perseverance that Chris has shown to get to where he is today. At age 17, Chris was a passenger in an automobile crash that damaged his neck and spinal cord. He was told he would never walk again. He said he worked daily in the gym for seven months “to learn how to live all over again with a brand-new body.” Today he is able to walk with a cane but still requires medication to deal with the injuries.
When did you first start to be drawn toward broadcasting as a career? What is it that attracts you about this work?
I was born with a passion for sports and competition, so it was a natural fit for me to become a sports broadcaster after I was hurt in high school. Simply put, I wanted badly to be a part of what I loved and when I was at a sporting event, I felt I was at home. Sports broadcasting has allowed me to share my passion with others through the air.
What key steps helped prepare you for your current job or helped you grow as a broadcaster?
There is no question in my mind that going to college in a big market (LA) with a successful sports program forced me to learn my trade quickly and at a high level. I was an extremely raw student with little experience but was surrounded by national media members everyday and I wanted to be taken seriously in everything I did. Nobody ever noticed but, in my mind, I took my games on the student station as though they were going on ESPN. Going back and listening to the tapes now, they weren’t very good but the mindset mattered. Broadcasting and its intricacies absolutely consumed my mind and still do.
What’s a typical week like for you during basketball season?
Basketball season is exciting and the pace of the season at times mirrors the pace of the game. Very quick. However, it’s never routine during non-conference play. We had three trips east of the Rockies last year, all five days or longer with multiple cities. During Pac-12 play, we are assured to play two games a week, Thursday/Saturday with every other week on the road.
What’s been a personal highlight for you in broadcasting, a memory you know you’ll keep?
Two things really stick out for me as memorable moments early in my career. First, during the 2006 college baseball season, I called a game between Washington and USC that featured two current big leaguers. UW started Tim Lincecum and SC started Ian Kenndy, two studs with unreal stuff, and they showed it. Lincecum was touching 98 (mph) with ease and Kennedy had a filthy curve. SC lost the game but I remember the matchup like it was yesterday.
Second, was the entire 2005 football season. Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, etc. There were so many unbelievable moments during that season from the ASU comeback, to the “Bush Push,” to the 34-game winning streak, to having two Heisman Trophy winners, to the National Championship. It is impossible to pick one. Although the NCAA sanctions are tremendously disappointing, nothing can take away the experience we all had together.
How do you deal with discouragement? What helps you when work or life seems overwhelming?
Discouragement is a part of life and certainly a part of broadcasting but the response matters most. You’ll never get exactly what think you want or need. It’s about staying positive and forward minded while taking advantage of opportunities, even if they seem beneath you, and then maximizing them to the best of your ability. If one can learn early to never get too high or low, the navigation process will be easier. I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to be doing what I love, especially in today’s climate.
What goals have you set for yourself in this career?
My career path has already taken numerous unexpected twists and turns, but my goals remain the same. I want to take my career as far as possible!