According to Tom Livatino, the head coach of Loyola’s boys basketball team, nobody loves the Ramblers more than junior Luke Phillips. It’s easy to see why Livatino holds that opinion. Phillips has played soccer and run track all three years in high school. And starting this school year, he was the play-by-play voice of the Loyola football and boys basketball teams.
Maroon & Gold: What’s your response when you heard what Livatino said about you?
Luke Phillips: He’s a true example of what it means to be a leader and role model at Loyola, and I’m humbled by his words. Growing up surrounded by sports, I find the energy that the teams and the school give off to be contagious, and it’s something I want to be around and help create. I do believe I have a vested interest in Loyola teams that I’m not directly a part of, so naturally I’m going to be actively supportive.
M&G: On Saturday, you helped Loyola captured the Catholic League track and field championship by taking second in the 800-meter run and leading off the 4×400 relay that finished first. What do you like most about the sport?
LP: Track is so underrated. People look at it and immediately write it off as an individual sport. In my opinion, they couldn’t be more wrong. The team plays a huge role in the success of the individual. Not only are there relays, but during long runs, during team dinners, during races, you really feel the team aspect.
M&G: Which event do you like most?
LP: I would say my best event is the 800, where I was lucky enough to [run a 1:59.44 at the conference meet], but there isn’t a race I would say I dislike — besides the [3,200].
M&G: You also play soccer at Loyola in the fall. Is running track a way to stay in shape?
LP: Initially, it was. But the more I got involved with track, it became so much more than that. I absolutely love both sports now, and I’m lucky to be part of both teams.
M&G: How did you get started as the play-by-play announcer for Loyola sports?
LP: I grew up a huge sports fan. I played sports. I watched sports. It’s always been a huge part of who I am. I have a cousin who is like a brother to me, and we would watch games together and comment on them like the announcers on TV. It’s always been an interest of mine. Mr. [Charlie] Heintz [a teacher at the school] approached me during the first week or two of school and asked if I would be interested in doing it. It was like a dream come true. I do a lot of different activities at Loyola, and this is one of my favorites, for sure. Not only is it fun, but I like that the people who can’t make games can follow along. It helps bring everybody together.
M&G: The Week 2 game at home against Maine South was your first one. Were you nervous at all?
LP: I was. But I was fortunate that it was such a thrilling game that all I had to do was call what I saw. The game was interesting enough. My mom knows that talking comes naturally to me, so that’s what I did. I was lucky to have a terrific crew with me this year. [Juniors] Peter Schlax and Andy Paden both were great. We are all close friends, and we were able set each other up nicely to make comments. The tech crew was also terrific. They did an outstanding job on the hard stuff, the stuff I know nothing about.
M&G: Do you model your broadcasting after anybody specifically?
LP: Pat Hughes of the Chicago Cubs and Dave Eanet of Northwestern. I listen to both of them, and I look up to both of them. They are professional about the way they call a game. They also are radio guys and have to paint a picture, to try and provide as much insight for the listeners as possible.
M&G: What was the most memorable game or games you worked this school year?
LP: It’s either the Maine South football game [in Week 2] or the St. Ignatius basketball game. The Maine South game because it was my first, and it was such an exciting game. The Jesuit Cup because it was such a cool experience. The crowd, the enthusiasm and the meaning behind the game all made it memorable. Plus, we won that game, too. I also got to interview Cardinal Blase Cupich at halftime.
M&G: Your dad is Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s athletic director. What’s that like, especially as a sports fan?
LP: It’s really cool. I get to go to a lot of games, press conferences. I get to go into the locker room and interact with the student-athletes. We’ve had so many of them over to our house for dinner. I’m very lucky. I’ve been able to do things a lot of people would die to do.
M&G: One of those was travel with the Northwestern men’s basketball team to Salt Lake City, Utah, as it played in the program’s first NCAA tournament.
LP: An unbelievable experience. To go there and see all of the fans in purple and to win a game was incredible. I’m so blessed to have done that. The energy around that team was so positive, and it’s been cool to watch them progress throughout the years.
M&G: As a junior, I’m sure you’re starting to consider where you want to go to college. With your dad at Northwestern, is that your first choice?
LP: It’s a great school, and it’s one I am looking at. It’s been a long process, and I still haven’t narrowed my list down. I couldn’t tell you my top three or four schools. I have a lot to think about, but I have time. I know I will end up making the right decision and be happy wherever I go.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola