It’s time once again for another installment of Sunday Spotlight! Fully aware that it’s not Sunday, let’s go ahead and consider it a special weekday edition, OK? That said, this is not just a special edition because I am pushing out a feature on a weekday. It’s special because I had a chance to catch up with my friend (and someone I greatly admire) Scott Moak.
Most fans know Moak as the public address announcer for the Sacramento Kings — a position he has held since 2002 (a position that he has absolutely crushed might I add) — but there is so much more about him that people may not know, including his passion and commitment to doing good, serving others and creating better, stronger communities.
I have wanted to have this conversation with him for years, but it wasn’t until he recently joined the Republic as their Vice President of Community Investment (following a similar role he held with Kings) that it all sort of came together.
Moak cares in ways for Sacramento and our community that is inspiring. He cares about people. You will hopefully hear some his passion and energy come through in our conversation.
Before we get going though, as a refresher, Sunday Spotlight features the players and people behind Sacramento Republic FC in a short 3-4 question format. As a forewarning, this interview went a tad longer. We discussed how he first landed the PA gig with the Kings, his youth sports experience, mission to help others, his new role with the Republic, the Bachelorette, and so much more. With that disclaimer, let’s dive in.
Most people recognize your name from all your years as the public address announcer for the Sacramento Kings. For those that don’t know, how did that gig come about?
I tried out back in 2000, along with 160 other people at a sports bar that doesn’t even exist anymore, and they narrowed it down to one round, and then they narrowed it down to another, and I just kept trying out. We were announcing video of Kings game...like a PA announcer would, and I got down to the final four. We then each announced a quarter of a preseason game between the Kings and Supersonics, which is hilarious that the sports bar and the Supersonics no longer exist. But I thought I did pretty good, and a couple of days later I got the call that I didn’t get the job.
I was pretty bummed, but stayed connected to many people that worked [with the Kings] and I helped with a couple of events. Two years later, they asked me to come in for an informal tryout just to be reminded that I could still do it. They offered me the job leading into the 2002 season.
I started announcing at Sacramento State in 1998 doing softball and volleyball. In 1999, I added football and men and women’s hoop. So in 2001-2002 years, I was [announcing] most Sac State sports. It was fun, I was working full time too, so it was just a night job.
Talk about your youth and particularly youth sports for a second. I know you played baseball, but did you play other sports like soccer?
I played soccer until I was about twelve and realized that because I’m mostly pear shape, I wasn’t really fit for that sport. I also wasn’t a good goalie, so running for that long was just not right for me [laughs].
I played little league and then high school baseball and then college baseball at Consumnes River College with the intention to play at UC Davis, but I got hurt so I never ended up playing there. I don’t think I would have played there anyway, because I couldn’t hit. Playing first base and being a contact hitter is quite not the way it works.
I pitched a little but not enough. I had 72 mile per hour fastball, 72 mile per hour curve, 72 mile per hour slider and 71 mile per hour change up, so everything looked the same. But yeah, I played baseball in high school and I also played football in high school. I was pretty big and played center on the offensive line.
Our teams were good. We won our league all four years (Metro League and Delta League in baseball at Kennedy High School.
As a Sacramento native, how important is the growth and success of this community and region to you?
On my gosh, it’s so, so [massive]. Best said by my grandfather who is 95 years old, who said the other day...what a fun time to be alive and be a professional in Sacramento. He has lived here virtually his entire life, and he’s right.
Just seeing this renaissance that we’re seeing...you know, clearly Golden 1 Center has a ton to do with the kick start, but there was some movement happening before that. Especially around the restaurant scene and the art scene, but what that was able to do is infuse a huge boost. What has happened since and will continue to happen with soccer, with arts, entertainment facilities and other capital projects that will be popping up...it’s so exciting. It’s fun to see it and be in the middle of it. [It was fun to be] part of the Golden 1 Center build and hopefully I’ll be part of a soccer stadium build. But yeah, it’s been pretty unbelievable.
Can you explain your new role with Sacramento Republic FC, and if you will, break down what community investment means or should mean?
Sports are cool to be able to use as a platform to do special things and make good things happen especially for people that need them. I have always believed — probably from my parents at an early age — that it’s our duty and responsibility to help people, because everybody needs a little help now again. Especially kids and people who have a hard time helping themselves.
Much like any business, whether your a bank, a hospital, or a pizza place....it doesn’t matter. You can still use the power of your brand, the power of your business, the people that work there to do special things and make really important investments back into the community.
Having done it with the Kings, and now the Republic, we get a little bit of an advantage because kids think professional athletes and sports are cool. You and I can tell both our kids, we can tell other kids, teachers can tell kids how important it is to read, but as soon as De’Aaron Fox or Hayden Partain tells a kid that it’s important to read, they listen in a different way.
The community investment department [at the Republic] is brand new. We didn’t really have resources around [in the past] to have it be a full department, so kudos to Kevin Nagle and Ben Gumpert who see it as vital to have more and more attention paid to this work.
We’re just starting to figure out where we want to spend our time. You will continue to find us doing a lot around youth to make sure kids have the chance to play soccer, to have a field to play soccer on, to partake in healthy activities, which sports obviously is.
I think you will see us spend a lot of time over the next months and years to try and ensure kids have a great coach and that there are coaches that are able to help kids. I think that for most people, adults can name the name of their fifth grade teacher, and also equally name their favorite or best coach that changed their life. We just want to make sure there is more and more of these people.
[This is particularly true] for women because of the rate in which young girls drop out of sports. They are far more likely at the age of 12, 13, 14 to walk away from sports altogether. And what can reverse that trend with what we’re seeing through research and by other information, is if it’s a woman coaching, these girls will be less likely to drop out.
Having a coach that believes in you and pumps you up, and that gives you that feeling that you can conquer anything...that’s what kids are going to remember as adults.
There has been recent examples of how the Republic are impacting our community. The response to the Paradise Fire is one example, or the partnership with Cristo Rey High School to help them build a soccer field, street soccer and the list goes on. I know doing good is a big thing for you, but is more than just a job? Does this work feed your soul?
Oh yeah. I feel lucky to be able to use the Republic to do this kind of work. If I wasn’t here, I would probably be volunteering some of my time to move the dial where I can. But being able to actually use the power of this club, which in the fabric of its DNA is to help make this community stronger and better...it’s an absolute dream.
Kevin (Burdick) and I, who helps to run the department, have been at this for awhile now together. We were at the Kings together, and we kind of keep a list of the coolest moments that we have been a part of, and we have to keep adding to it. We look at each other sometimes and think...how does a job get better than this one?
Paradise was a good example, [the event] last season with Matthew Harding was special. The fact that we were able to [recently] help a family have a special moment with their grandfather who was passing away, who in fact passed away a few days after we kicked the ball around out back with his grand kids. It was such a special moment for them.
We have players who are insanely committed to help the community be better. Josh Cohen, Hayden Partain, Ray Saari and all that he has been through and some of things he’s doing to give back, Tyler Blackwood wrote a children’s book for the love of god. He wants kids to never have a problem with literacy and always feel confident in reading.
So to be around this kind of culture truly is a dream come true.
Random question time. Your take on this season of the Bachelorette? Sloppy Joe’s or egg salad sandwich? Champions League Final prediction?
Bachelorette: I’m a little scared by that one dude who took his shirt off in the middle of the group date. Look, he’s clearly a really handsome man, he’s got like a 14 pack, and if I looked like that, I probably wouldn’t be walking around with a shirt on either, but bro...have some awareness of what’s going on around you. There’s other guys. Show some understanding. So that bothered me.
I wasn’t really sold on Hannah, but I am liking her edge, I like that she’s tough...tougher than I thought. It will be the most dramatic season of all-time. We know that.
Sloppy Joe’s or Egg Salad Sandwich: Well, I’m not a hamburger guy, so if you’re letting me use turkey meat, I’m going with that. If you’re telling me I can’t, I’m going egg salad sandwich especially if I can put relish in it and a tiny bit of mustard. I’m good with it.
The correct answer was neither.
What [laughs]? What do you mean neither? I don’t wan’t to be friends with people that are not either. You got to have one.
Champions League Final: So now you’re tapping in something. I am not a soccer guy. I am learning. I just sat and watched the U20 World Cup, and I have Todd Dunivant, who is an MLS hall of famer and our general manager next me and I am sitting there talking to him and bellyaching about why [the player] is rolling on the ground when all he got was pushed. Why does it hurt so bad? I’m asking questions about penalty kicks.
I am horrible to watch a soccer match with because I am learning. My favorite soccer team is the Sacramento Republic FC. I want them to win. Open Cup? I don’t even know what that means, but I want it all. What are my options?
It’s Liverpool and Tottenham. I support Liverpool for what it’s worth.
Well than I’m pulling for Liverpool! I’m in your corner. I’m literally learning the world’s game on the fly and it’s awesome. I now play soccer once a week with people in this office that are incredibly talented soccer players. I am surrounded by greatness. It’s super cool to be learning this [game] on the fly.
On behalf of Indomitable City Soccer, I would like to thank Scott for taking time out of his business schedule to chat with me. Be on the lookout for additional features of the players and people behind the Republic all season long.