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Red Stars make history as first professional sports team in Chicago to hire female public-address announcer

The culture in the broadcast booth was that of an all-boys club. Lindsay Eanet can remember hearing all the time, even from people close to her, that “it just doesn’t sound the same with a woman’s voice.”

Julie Ertz leads the Red Stars in warmups before the final regular season game of 2019 against the Utah Royals. | Annie Costabile/Sun-Times
Julie Ertz leads the Red Stars in warmups before the final regular season game of 2019 against the Utah Royals. | Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

Lindsay Eanet is no newcomer to the broadcast booth.

She grew up watching football games from the broadcast booth at Ryan Field. Her father, Dave Eanet, is the longtime play-by-play voice for Northwestern.

The culture in the broadcast booth has been that of an all-guys club. Eanet can remember hearing all the time, even from people close to her, that “it just doesn’t sound the same with a woman’s voice.”

She’s looking forward to changing that narrative.

“I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed the gravity of being the first and the only [female public-address announcer in Chicago],” Eanet said. “And I believe if I’m not mistaken being only one of two in the NWSL.”

Eanet was set to make her debut as the Red Stars announcer on April 25 for the team’s home opener. The coronavirus pandemic altered those plans. Now, she will make her debut virtually on a Zoom call featuring staff and players, including Alyssa Naeher, Emily Boyd and coach Rory Dames.

It was her passion for the Red Stars and the culture surrounding the NWSL, one of inclusivity and change, that inspired her to audition for the position combined with the fact that it’s in her blood.

In November, Eanet had a phone conversation with the Red Stars’ director of operations, Amber Klimek, to discuss her experience with soccer and what performance and voice experience she had.

She sent in countless voice samples using the match-day script from the Red Stars semifinal against the Portland Thorns that she recorded from her office at the North Center Chamber of Commerce, where she serves as the executive director. But before recording those samples with her podcasting equipment, Eanet got some advice from her dad.

Dave told his daughter to speak clearly, maintain her energy and find her voice.

“The reason why Gene Honda and Ray Clay are so memorable and iconic is because everybody can quote them,” Eanet said. “They have a signature sound. I’m really excited for the opportunity to play around with the voice and the energy and figure out what the best fit is for me.”