If one has tuned into live streaming Vilonia Eagles sporting events or any of the basketball state tournament games, they will likely have heard the voice of Vilonia senior Drake Toll.
Toll’s voice has been heard as part of “Eagle Vision” for the better part of two years now.
Toll started announcing ninth grade football as well as pee wee, junior high and middle school games.
But because there wasn’t a way to announce games live, Toll said the Vilonia Football Foundation came to him in his junior year to announce varsity football games.
“They provided me with about $1,500 and a couple of dads joined in and we started Eagle Vision,” he said. “The school then provided a $5,000 upgrade and we hold records, including having more viewership than Conway High School and the most sports broadcasted.”
Toll also said Eagle Vision has been nominated for three awards: broadcaster of the year, broadcast of the year and play of the year.
Toll’s involvement in Eagle Vision has also helped him get on 103.7 FM The Buzz, which has in turn brought him contacts with several of Arkansas’ prominent sports figures.
At the state tournament, Toll announced with Scott Inman, the part-time voice of the Arkansas Razorbacks; Bobby Swafford; The Buzz’s Justin Acri, Eric Sullivan and RJ Hawk and Steve Sullivan.
Toll said several of these guys have been key to his announcing.
“I grew up listening to The Buzz and listening to these guys,” he said. “Eric Sullivan has done the most to help me out. We have worked together on a few things and Steve Sullivan has also ushered me in.”
Those guys may have helped, but it was when they approached the Arkansas Activities Association Assistant Executive Director Derek Walters about broadcasting the track state championships.
“They got us the credentials and helped us with how to broadcast the event,” he said. “Then, one of the head honchos of AETN approached because AETN sports was starting up and they wanted to get a student involved. Because we had spoken with Derek, we already had that relationship. When AETN Sports started with the partnership of Derek and AETN, it helped get me involved.”
Thus, Toll was involved in this year’s state basketball tournament games.
But basketball and football isn’t the only sports Toll has broadcast.
He has also done a myriad of sports, including softball, baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, track as well as coaches interviews and live broadcasts.
Thus, Toll, who also serves as the National Beta President, is quite busy with broadcasting.
“I’ve probably committed more than 1,500 hours the last two years to announcing,” he said. “That includes scouting reports, road trips, setting up and tearing down sets and the broadcasting.”
In many ways, Toll’s broadcasting requires many things coaches do, like watching film.
“I try to get individual scouting reports of players and team scouting reports,” he said. “I have links to Hudl (a video site where players or schools upload film) and Maxpreps. I also try to know the names and numbers of every player.”
This, traveling for Beta Club and being a student has made Toll quite busy.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he said. “I have a 35 per hour a week job called school, and I have to travel frequently for broadcasting and National Beta Club. But, the school has worked well with my schedule and supporting what we do with Eagle Vision. With all of this, I have been able to keep a 4.0 GPA.”
Toll is a senior, so Eagle Vision will be turned over to a new student next year.
However, Toll’s broadcasting career will not be ending.
He will be heading to Baylor University in the fall where he will work with Baylor sports to help with sports broadcasting, doing work on the sidelines. I’ll be doing something similar to what we have done here at Vilonia.”
But, as for broadcasting after he graduates from Baylor, he said he is at a crossroads.
Currently, he does a lot of work with Special Olympics and youth basketball.
He said he wants to search for a job in sports, but coaching may be the route he takes.
He will be majoring in journalism and business administration, which will help with coaching.
Until then, you are likely to hear Toll on Vilonia broadcasts and eventually on Baylor broadcasts.