When Charlie Brigham arrived at the University of Michigan in August 2019, he just wanted to survive. Forget clubs, parties or sports, he just wanted to find his way through the masses and finish his homework.

Michigan has more than 31,000 undergraduates, roughly eight times the population of Brigham’s hometown of Gasport. Most of his lectures had twice the amount of students as his graduating class at Royalton-Hartland.

Like many wide-eyed college freshmen, the transition wasn’t as daunting as imagined and he began to explore college life. Coincidental occurrences eventually led him to Michigan’s student radio station, where he began performing play-by-play for sports games. Then he became a practice player for the school’s women’s basketball team.

Through both activities, Brigham has traveled the country, creating memories and building contacts for his post-graduate career. But the dilemma is that he hasn’t decided which path to choose. Entering his final year in Ann Arbor, Brigham is still considering whether to continue as a broadcaster or find a job as a graduate assistant to begin coaching basketball.

“I’m going to give both paths 100% of my effort, but I really don’t know,” Brigham said. “It’s a play-it-by-ear sort of thing. Landing a graduate assistant job is not guaranteed. Heaven forbid if I didn’t land a graduate assistant job, I can use the skills I’ve used for the last four years to levy a position in the broadcasting world.”

A Steve Nash jersey and a stroll through the quad resulted in Brigham’s introduction to the school’s radio station, WCBN Sports, as a freshman. Brigham already had an inkling he wanted to be a broadcaster, particularly since his major was communications at the time. But calling games wasn’t an idea he had yet considered.

Once members of the station recruited him to join, he began calling soccer games. Brigham has done 10 different sports since, traveling to big road games at Penn State and Wisconsin to broadcast Michigan football games. He has also been on the call for some men’s basketball games and is planning a trip to London when the Wolverines play Kentucky next season.

Brigham was on scene to call the Big Ten tournament for the women’s basketball team this year and went to Los Angeles when Michigan reached the Elite Eight. He also has been involved heavily with a series of podcasts and softball broadcasts on WCBN, which due to combination of lack of coverage competition, team success and a rabid fanbase, are among the station’s most-viewed on YouTube.

“In that first soccer game, I got paired up with a senior who didn’t really know soccer,” said Brigham, whose major is now film, television and media. “I’m not a big soccer guy, but just going with it as it came, I think that first soccer game solidified that I made the right decision and this is what I want to do.”

Brigham found his way to the women’s basketball team just as innocently and accidentally as the radio station. He was playing a pick-up game one day and friend Lucas Vargas — now a graduate assistant for the Creighton men’s team — suggested he become a practice player.

Now he spends five to six days per week in the Crisler Center competing against the Michigan women’s team, which advanced one game shy of the Final Four for the first time in program history in March.

“It wasn’t so much weird because it was the women’s team, but it was weird playing with them because they were all so much better than anyone I had ever played against,” said Brigham, who played basketball and baseball at Roy-Hart. “... They’re all such incredible athletes and all incredible people, too.”

This summer, Brigham is taking extra credits to lighten his workload next year and he is also spending time with the program’s video coordinator, Reyna Frost, to help learn as much as he can about the strategic side of the profession.

He will also be returning home to serve as a coach at the Roy-Hart basketball camp, which runs Monday through July 1.

“It’s always been in my head that this would be a cool thing to do,” Brigham said. “... I got to experience such a high level of basketball and got to experience all the ins and outs of college basketball that I was really like, ‘Wow, I want to do this for a living. This is incredible.'”

Much like his decision on which career to choose, Brigham has found himself in a difficult position when calling women’s games at times. Creating friendships with players and staff members brings a natural desire to see them succeed.

But his experiences have shown benefits in each field. He can see the game from a different outlook as a broadcaster, while being part of the women’s basketball program gives him some inside information and tidbits to toss into the call.

“Women’s basketball has been some of my strongest broadcasts, because I have so much information about our players and the other team’s,” Brigham said. “... I’m always torn when I’m calling women’s games, because a part of me wants to sit behind the bench and scream as loud as I can, but the other part of me loves broadcasting because I know so much and I can do so much with all this information.”

Nick Sabato can be reached via email at nick.sabato@gnnewspaper.com or on Twitter @NickSabatoGNN.

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