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New Squirrels announcer makes history in control booth, paving way for future generations

New Squirrels announcer makes history in control booth, paving way for future generations
Posted at 10:08 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 08:16:38-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- On any given evening at The Diamond, a Flying Squirrels game is an avalanche of activity.

Whether it's on the fields, in the seats, or just about anywhere in the ballpark, there's always something happening.

Nowhere is this energy more evident than in the game control booth where the scoreboard is run, the video streaming is directed, and the public address announcer keeps everything in line.

"Even when it comes to certain sponsored promotions with different situational game stats like strikeouts, double plays, RBI batters, strikeout batters, all those different kinds of things. There's a bunch of varying elements and things going on," Anthony Opperman said.

"They might hear a person's name and number but there is way more going on behind the scenes. It's controlled chaos up in that booth," Todd "Parney" Parnell , the Squirrels' vice president and chief operating officer, said.

Opperman did the job for the past three seasons, in addition to all of his other duties with the Squirrels promotions department. There are nine pages to the game script before the first pitch is ever thrown.

"Having to go by the game script, follow what's going on in the game, hearing calls on the radio for things that were going on promotionally, and then getting texts from Parney about other things we needed to announce and shout outs to people he wanted to give to people who were in the audience. It was a lot to try to juggle," Opperman said.

Opperman took a step back and relinquished his announcing duties, creating an opening that is more than just a voice from above.

"That voice, that tone, that energy level sets the pace for the entire ballpark," Parney said.

Enter Bianca Bryan, a voice-over and radio personality who has been coming to Squirrels games since she and her husband moved to Richmond nine years ago.

"The family environment, that's what really drew us in," Bryan said.

On a whim, she applied for the PA job with a team that produces players for her father's favorite team.

"My dad was like, do you know that's the Double-A team that feeds into the Giants? It just made it all the more special right off the bat," Bryan said.

Bryan figured that she could handle the voice part of the job, given that it's her professional field.

"She's been really prepared every time she's showed up at the ballpark. Her professionalism is off the charts," Parney said.

But being a lifelong baseball fan and having brought her kids to The Diamond for years gave Bryan more of an insight into what the Squirrels were looking for, not just in an announcer, but as a member of their team.

"You're building baseball fans, whether they're here for Nutzy, Nutasha, the team, the snacks, the beer, whatever it might be. It's the whole environment," Bryan said.

"The comfort level that we have with her already, it's like we've been together for a long, long time," Opperman said.

Bryan is not the first member of her family to hold this position either. Her Giants-loving father had a one-day turn at the mic years ago.

"He was giving me tips for this job from his little moment behind the mic. But him being the biggest baseball fan in the family, he's also very helpful with what sort of things I'll announce and that stuff," Bryan said.

She is the first woman to hold down the job in Richmond's long baseball history, and just the second woman in the minors to have her title. She strives to be at her best every night not just because it's her job but because of the inspiration she may be to the next generation.

"I think it really is important just to have that female voice with myself up there and Meg's out there so that those little girls can see themselves or softball players that really love the sport but don't see themselves in it. It provides them a place, hopefully," Bryan said.

"To have a six-year-old girl or a 12-year-old girl to hear Bianca's voice, to be able to say mommy, daddy, someday I want that to be able to be my voice. That's pretty awesome," Parney said.

Bryan adds that one of the hardest parts of her job is when managers make defensive changes and they need to be announced before play begins the next inning. Thanks to her upbringing in places like Argentina, El Salvador and Chile, even the toughest names on the roster are no problem.

Watch for Lane Casadonte's "Beyond the Roster" features Thursdays on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. and WTVR.com. If you know someone Lane should feature, email him at beyondtheroster@wtvr.com



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