By Jim Goorman
Local Sports Journal

So, you want to be a sports commentator when you grow up?

You could follow the direction Ryan Terpstra took starting at the age of 20. When Fox 17 had a contest for becoming a sportscaster, Terpstra, a graduate of Western Michigan Christian High School and Calvin College (2006), entered and won.

His prizes were a 57-inch big-screen television and a dream job at Fox Sports. Now 30, he brings his talents to both television and radio.

Photo of Terpstra shooting Michigan football.

Terpstra shooting Michigan football.

It was 2004 when the Grand Haven native entered the sportscasting competition, which included of about 100 applicants. Eventually, the field was narrowed to two and each presented a sports broadcast. Viewers then voted for the winner.

Even prior to the contest, Terpstra had been offered an internship at Fox by Brent Ashcroft, a Mona Shores High School graduate.

This set the stage for many adventures in radio as Bret Bakita hired him to be the producer of a morning show in Grand Rapids with WBBL.  

“I had the privilege to work for Brett Bakita working in the sports department and gaining some valuable experience,” Terpstra said. He also was able to work locally with WGHN through the well known ESPN station 1370 AM.

Anyone who follows sports in Western Michigan could listen to him as he was named co-host for the ESPN sports talk show with Sean Baligian known as “The Shawn and Terp Show.”  They fielded comments and questions from listeners who asked about high school, college and professional teams.

Who wouldn’t want to interview college celebrities like former Michigan Wolverine Roy Roundtree or former Detroit Lion great Barry Sanders?  

Terpstra has done that along with covering so many big events like prize HBO fights, Calvin-Hope basketball games, Michigan and MSU basketball games, NCAA Final Four tournament games in Houston (2011), Detroit sports (Tigers, Lions and Pistons).

“Stand out experiences for me included doing  radio broadcasts for the WMC (Western Michigan Christian) state finals in their tournament runs (2008, 2010),” Terpstra said. “And broadcasting the Orchard Lake St Mary-East Grand Rapids football state championship in 2008. which lasted 5 overtimes.”

His efforts earned him the “Best Broadcaster Personality” Award in 2008 by the Michigan Radio Broadcasters.

Jimmer Fredette talks with Terpstra in Houston at the Final Four.

Jimmer Fredette talks with Terpstra in Houston at the Final Four.

Of course, life isn’t always so pleasant for a news man like Terpstra. Like the fans, he had to endure the abysmal 0-16 Detroit Lions of 2008. Terpstra had to interview players after all those losses.

“I had to say new ways to ask ‘why did you lose that game today,’” Terpstra said. “I found that players hate the cliché statements like ‘how do you feel about the loss?’  They usually made the same statement, ‘we lost and losing really sucks,” said Terpstra, laughingly.

He also did not relish what happened to him in a Muskegon-Holland West Ottawa football game a few years back while doing camera work on the sideline.  A Muskegon player going out of bounds while being tackled knocked the camera-carrying Terpstra flat on his back.  All local stations shared “this tackle” with their audiences and making sure to point out that it was Ryan Terpstra who had been run over.

Terpstra also is involved with “State Champs,” a show based in Detroit that expanded into West Michigan and hired Terpstra to handle the producing and directing of the show on this side of the state. In that show, he covers every sport from swimming and bowling to water polo.

The State Champs Sports Network originated in Detroit and now beginning in January is doing well in Grand Rapids.  The hope is that it will move on to more audiences across Michigan.  

Terpstra stands with Barry Sanders during an interview at Ford Field.

Terpstra stands with Barry Sanders during an interview at Ford Field.

“This is a great thing because it takes it (local sports) to the next level and each town can have their own sports coverage. This will be good for each community,” Terpstra said.   “I interview high school athletes and do the highlights of sporting events and we bring in a taste of everything in a half hour show.

“The future is with TV even though my field in college was journalism,” he said.  The show airs at noon Sundays on WOTV.

It’s all part of living the dream.

“My story is definitely unique, but since I am asked often how to break into the business, I always tell people to learn to write, major in communications and take a couple internships in different fields,” Terpstra said. “You learn about sports media through experience and you get a job through the connections you make.”


Terp covers the Hope, Calvin rivalry.

Footage of Michigan’s comeback win over Notre Dame, shot by Terpstra.

Nothing like getting caught up in the action.