BTN announcer makes history in Evanston

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- With Saturday fast approaching, the Northwestern Wildcats gear up for game day in Evanston.

Helmets crash and whistles pierce the air at practice, leaving no question that Coach Pat Fitzgerald's squad is focused.

But the Wildcats aren't the only ones.

"I feel like I have to know the first string, some of the second string," says Big Ten Network play-by-play announcer Lisa Byington, referencing her seemingly endless notes for Saturday's match up between the Wildcats and Bowling Green State University.

It's a historic moment because Byington will be the first woman to call football on BTN. She says it's the "mountaintop" of her career to date.

"it's been a dream of mine, it's been a goal of mine, and I'm really grateful for this opportunity," the veteran announcer adds.

This gig's even sweeter for Byington because the event takes place at her Alma Mater.

"A few miles down the street from Ryan Field is where I took journalism classes," she says with a smile.

Byington also played varsity basketball and soccer for NU.

But for saturday's kick off,"Once I put on that headset, I'm a broadcaster, not a Northwestern Wildcat," even though Coach Fitz was a fellow classmate and remains a friend--one who readily sings her praises.

"It's hard earned and well deserved. She's put in the work. She's put in the time and the effort," adds Fitzgerald.

Along the way Byington's called everything from field hockey to gymnastics. And earlier this year she had a chance to work the sidelines during the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

But the seasoned commentator knows this assignment is on another level--for more than just herself.

"I've always felt like I've been the recipient... of other women who have broken down barriers. It's a role reversal now for me to have some of that responsibility... I don't like to dwell on it. I can't dwell on it," she says.

Byington has already spent plenty of time at Ryan Field as a student in the bleachers. For the last decade she's been even closer to the action as a sideline reporter for BTN.

But come Saturday, she's going to have a very different view from up above in the press box, with a national audience looking on.
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