Dreams rarely work out this perfectly.
Ryan Fannon enrolled at Villanova University with a goal of training to begin a career as a sports broadcaster.
Like most fields in sports, jobs are limited and landing a job as a play-by-play person or analyst for a professional or major college team generally takes years of paying dues in small towns and then still a lot of luck.
Fannon’s path was much different and considerably more unlikely.
This season is working his 19th second season as the radio play-by-play voice for his alma mater. He’ll start his 24th season working Villanova football broadcasts.
A 1993 graduate of Villanova, Fannon, got a job with Villanova radio a month after he graduated and has literally spent half of his life broadcasting Villanova sports.
His call of “Cats win it all!, Cats win it all!” after Villanova won the 2016 NCAA Basketball Championship on a buzzer-beating shot is already established in Philadelphia sports lore.
“Since I was a young kid, I’ve always wanted to be a sports broadcaster,” said Fannon, who said he got his love of sports from his dad and his ‘ham” from his mother who was an actress. “When I got to Villanova, I did student radio and got some great experience. We’d got to local advertisers to raise money so we could afford to go to road games.”
After graduating, Fannon got letters of recommendations from coaches and athletic department officials, sent out resumes and went home to Alexandria, Va. to wait for a chance.
He did not wait long and the opportunity was a golden egg.
“It was about a month after I graduated and (Former Villanova football coach) Andy Talley called me,” Fannon said. “He said, “Ryan, the color commentator for football is leaving. I know you’re only 21 or 22 but throw your name in the hat. I don’t know what will happen but we’ll see what happens.”
Fannon got the football job and a few years later also picked up a gig as the pre and post-game host for basketball. When Andy Musser retired in 1998, Fannon took over as basketball play-by-play to team with long-time color commentator and former Villanova basketball Whitey Rigsby.
In his more than two decades at Villanova, Fannon, whose full-time job is Director of Advancement for his high school Bishop Ireton in Alexandria, has called the hundreds of games including the 2016 Basketball Championship and 2009 NCAA Division I-AA Football title.
He concedes that “Cats win it all!, Cats win it all!” top his list but right there with it is the 2009 Elite Eight game when Scottie Reynolds scored with 0.05 seconds left to send Villanova to Detroit for the Final Four.
“When I got the play-by-play job at Villanova, I always said to myself that if I could just get to call one Final Four for Villanova that would be a dream come true,” Fannon said. “I called the Final Four in Spring 2009 and then in December got to call Villanova winning the championship in football. To call my first Final Four and then Villanova’s football title is something I’ll never forget.”