Terp Directs Hockey’s Biggest Games
The first time Charlie Dammeyer ’04 sat in a television production truck for a sports broadcast, he found his future career.
Between grabbing coffee and doing errands as a 15-year-old runner for a 1999 Redskins-Cowboys game in Landover, he was entranced by the technical ballet of how the on-field action was transmitted to millions at home.
“I was really confused,” Dammeyer says. “But I was really excited.”
Falling in love with a career path early has paid dividends for Dammeyer, a coordinating director for NBC Sports who is now in the midst of directing Stanley Cup playoff games.
He assisted on more broadcasts as a high school student, and his enthusiasm and blooming talent landed him one of the more unique side jobs for a college student: traveling the country on weekends to log play-by-play data for NFL broadcasts on FOX.
“If they’d asked me to work 25 hours a day, I would have done it,” Dammeyer says. “We can’t all be professional athletes. This is pretty darn close.”
In the summer before his senior year at UMD, Dammeyer was hired by NBC to work on the Athens Summer Olympic games and Arena Football. Soon after classes started that fall, NBC called him with a job offer that had a slight catch: Could he graduate early and start in January?
So Dammeyer loaded up on some more credits, finished his journalism degree in three and a half years and was already doing graphics work for a football game by the time December graduation rolled around.
“It continues to be a heck of a ride,” he says.
These days, Dammeyer spends about half his year directing NHL games and the rest directing NASCAR races—typically flying around 125,000 miles a year with 150 days on the road. A native of Annapolis who still lives in the city with his wife and two children, he had a special moment in March when he directed a Capitals-Maple Leafs game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, a venue where he used to sell programs for Navy football games.
Dammeyer typically plans at least a week ahead of time where cameras and microphones will go at the rinks, who will be on the camera crew and what storylines will take up the start of the broadcast. For bigger NHL games like the Stanley Cup finals, he’ll oversee a crew of 15 to 20 camera operators and a 75-person technical crew, with a 20-person staff in the production truck.
“I can pretty much script from 8 to 8:10 p.m.,” he says. “But once that puck is dropped, it’s unscripted.”
Dammeyer considers himself a sports fan and tries not to “step on the game.” So the images he picks for the viewers at home have to complement what the players are doing and what the announcers are saying.
“It can be very chaotic,” he says. “But when it’s working and it’s clicking, it’s like a symphony.”