Monaco seeks to leave its mark as Voice of the Cowboys
Aug. 26 – LARAMIE – For the first time in nearly four decades, University of Wyoming football fans will hear a different voice on the radio when the Cowboys kick off their 2022 season this weekend.
However, the UW faithful should be familiar with the new man behind the mic.
Reece Monaco was announced as the successor to longtime commentator Dave Walsh on July 1 and is set to air his first game as the new voice of the Cowboys on Saturday in Illinois. Monaco has been a staple of UW athletics for the past two decades, serving for 19 seasons as the voice of Cowgirls basketball, before playing the same role with the men’s basketball team in 2020. He has also been the secondary reporter on football broadcasts for the past 10 years.
Monaco has been asked a lot over the past two months about the prospects of succeeding one of its mentors, a nine-time Wyoming Sportscaster of the Year and inductee into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. For him, the answer to this type of question is simple.
“My response to that is that these shoes cannot be filled,” Monaco said. “He’s the voice of a generation, maybe two generations for Wyoming athletics. The only thing I can do is try to step in and bring the best of myself, and… “trying to make it my own. I think that’s what I’ve been doing with basketball for the past two years and hopefully gaining the trust of Wyoming fans.”
“They can trust me that I’m going to try to keep him on the same level as Dave for so long. It’s an absolute honor. With so many outstanding sportscasters in Wyoming, for the university and for Learfield to trust me to do that, it’s just a great feeling. When they announced it in July, it was like “OK”. It’s game week now. It’s time to go. There’s no no longer needs to sit around thinking about what could/should have been. Time to go.
While Monaco see Walsh as a mentor, there hasn’t been a ton of advice from the man who passed the torch to him in recent months. Having witnessed Monaco’s abilities as a broadcaster first-hand, Walsh notes “there’s not much I can say to Reece, honestly.”
Monaco is a five-time Wyoming Sportscaster of the Year himself, and Walsh is convinced he’s the perfect candidate to take his place in the broadcast booth.
“He has all the skills of a good player and a good sports commentator,” Walsh said. “You can hear the rhythm in his voice, and he’s in it. He’s not deadpan at all, and he gets emotional, and he describes what’s going on.
“He has this talent to be able to paint the picture, as they say. Reece is very good at that. He has this gift of small talk that really helps in this business, so all those traits that you look for and hope for in a good personality of the radio, Reece has that. He’s gonna slip in there and do great.
‘Wyoming in their soul’
In addition to its wealth of experience playing UW basketball games, as well as its decade as a part of football broadcasting, Monaco’s affiliation with the university dates back to its student days in the 1990s. .
He says his first experiences with Wyoming sports were listening to Walsh, as well as his partner in the broadcast booth, Kevin McKinney, on the radio. In doing so, the seed was planted in his mind that broadcasting was a career he wanted to pursue.
“I was a high school athlete, a weekend warrior kind of guy, and I realized very quickly that there really wasn’t much room in the world of sports for a short, big, and slow,” recalls Monaco. “My decision to get into sports broadcasting was to stay in the sport and be around it and participate in the only way I know how, to be able to describe to people and tell people about it. why did I get into this.”
Monaco took his first broadcast job at KCSR in Chadron, Nebraska, where he began calling plays for Chadron High. He vividly remembers his first show — a showdown between Chadron and Gordon High Schools — and eventually played a calling role in Chadron State’s women’s basketball games.
This experience opened the door for him to return home to Wyoming as a broadcaster for the Cowgirls basketball program, an opportunity he considers a turning point in his career. Since then, he has been entrenched in UW athletics.
“When I got the chance to start playing women’s basketball in Wyoming, I considered it a huge break for me,” Monaco said. “It got my foot in the door there, and I got to work with one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with – with Joe Legerski and Gerald Mattinson and his assistant coaches, Heather (Ezell) , Ryan (Larsen), Fallon (Lewis), Mike Petrino and everyone who was on that team.
“It was an amazing break, and it made my voice heard by the Wyoming fans. I think that familiarity has really helped me on this journey from women’s basketball to men’s basketball and now here in football. I I’ve developed a relationship with a lot of Wyoming football fans through that, so those are the highlights.”
While some athletic departments would conduct outside research to find the new play-by-play voice for generations to come, Wyoming didn’t have to look far. Instead, the Cowboys opted to keep the rental within the UW family.
McKinney, who has worked alongside Monaco on the men’s basketball broadcasts for the past two seasons, is delighted the university has decided to do so.
“I think it’s important to do that, and for (the play-by-play voice) to have Wyoming in their soul,” McKinney said. “We’re very lucky that Reece has this. He’s earned it. He’s been around a long time, he’s played a lot of games, Cowgirls and Cowboys, so having him have this opportunity is really special.
“I’m so happy for him. I know he’s going to be a bit nervous in this first game, but he’ll do very well. He’s a professional, and I’m really happy for him that he has had this opportunity.”
Clearly, there will be a new wrinkle in the broadcast this season, with the only play-by-play voice that a significant portion of Wyoming football fans have experienced leaving the stand after 38 years. However, with McKinney – who has been on UW broadcasts since the 1970s – entering his 27th season as a color commentator for Cowboys football, there will also be a familiar feeling.
“First of all, his knowledge is absolutely amazing,” Monaco said of what stands out from his time alongside McKinney. “Kevin forgot more about the University of Wyoming and Wyoming athletics than I will ever know, or many people will ever know.
“And just his dry sense of humor. The way he approaches certain things, you have to be careful. No one has ever accused me of being a genius, and sometimes it just goes right over my head. “
Having had the chance to call the Cowboys’ basketball games with Monaco, McKinney sees a handful of similarities between himself and his former radio partner.
“His preparation is outstanding,” McKinney said. “He’s very good at painting a clear picture of what’s going on, and that’s a talent. It’s not easy to do. Dave was the same way. These guys are, in their own way, an artist. They paint a picture for I grew up listening to play-by-play announcers with my dad, and I always marveled at how they did that.
“Reece has that ability. He’s very clear about that. He’s a guy who gets excited at the right time. I think he’s always optimistic. Everyone says when they hear the game they can tell if we’re because of me. I hate it, but that’s me. He’s always positive, always upbeat, and when he’s excited, you can’t help but get excited.
Beginning of a new era
Walsh admits this week has a bit of an unusual feeling. Despite the weirdness of knowing he won’t be in the broadcast booth this weekend, however, he’s happy with the change.
Gone are the days of spending countless hours preparing point tables and doing extensive research on the Cowboys and their next opponent. This year it was a more relaxing experience getting ready for the UW season.
Walsh plans to spend Saturday in the comfort of his own home, cheering on the Pokes alongside family members. And, of course, listening to his close friends on the radio show.
“I’m looking forward to it, actually,” Walsh said. “I’ll listen, and I’ll be more of a fan now. I can shout and clap, and sing ‘Cowboy Joe’ whenever I want now. It’ll be different, but it’ll be awesome, and that’ It’ll also be a lot of fun to listen to Reece and Kevin.”
Preparing for the season opener was also a new experience for Monaco.
As a secondary reporter, there wasn’t as much pre-match preparation required, with his main responsibilities being providing injury reports and giving analysis of what he was seeing on the pitch. This time around, his search began last week and has only intensified in recent days. He even went out and recently bought a new pair of binoculars, preparing to take the game from his new vantage point in the broadcast booth.
The initial reaction to the announcement of the new Voice of the Cowboys was dreamlike in nature for Monaco. As kickoff draws closer, however, reality has set in.
“It struck me,” Monaco said. “I’m impressed to be in this position, and I’m eternally grateful to have this opportunity.”
Josh Criswell covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at [email protected] or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @criswell_sports.