Neuse Newsmaker: Cotroneo continues proud family tradition as Wood Ducks voice
Dominic Cotroneo has been the ‘Voice of the Down East Wood Ducks’ since the team’s inception. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News
Position: Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations, Down East Wood Ducks
Family: Parents -- Vince and Veronica; sisters -- Olivia and Sophia
College: Arizona State University
It’s not a stretch to say broadcasting sports is in Dominic Cotroneo’s blood.
Cotroneo – the son of longtime Oakland Athletics’ radio play-by-play voice Vince Cotroneo – has been the “Voice of the Down East Wood Ducks” since the team took the field in 2017. Fans of the team can listen to Cotroneo on 960-AM for every game, home and away. The team’s broadcasts are also carried on 960TheBull.com and on the TuneIn app.
Cotroneo’s father has been the A’s voice since 2006, but before that, the elder Cotroneo worked for the Houston Astros (1991-96) and the Texas Rangers (1997-2003). It was while his dad was in Houston that Cotroneo was born in 1994.
“We’re a baseball family through and through,” Cotroneo said with a laugh. “My parents were married on a Tuesday during the All-Star break in 1991 so he wouldn’t miss any games. I mean, who gets married on a Tuesday?”
Although his dad was very successful as a broadcaster, Cotroneo said it wasn’t what he envisioned for himself early on.
“It was never anything he forced on me, which is the best part,” he said. “I wanted to be a teacher and play professional golf for a long time. But when I was a junior in high school, I thought, ‘Why not be a broadcaster?’ But I didn’t know how I’d do it.”
However, he found a way – by doing high school broadcasts online. He was living in Arizona at the time and founded the first 100 percent student-streamed high school football broadcast in state history. He moved on to Arizona State University where he broadcast a wide variety of sports and was the play-by-play voice for the Orem Owlz, a Pioneer League team in Utah in 2016.
While his dad was obviously a huge influence, Cotroneo also credits former Detroit Free Press sportswriter John Lowe, Texas Rangers radio play-by-play announcer Eric Nadel and Vegas Golden Knights play-by-play voice Dan D’uva as important figures in his development.
“Those three have meant so much to me in my life, other than my dad, of course,” he said.
Listeners to Cotroneo’s play-by-play and color analysis of Woodies’ games (he’s a one-man operation) realize one thing early – no one knows more about the team than its broadcaster. Before he turns on his microphone every game, he has already spent hours preparing for that day’s contest.
“You get exposed if you don’t do your research,” he said. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen every game, so you need to be prepared for when it happens. … I joke about it, but I was a Boy Scout and the motto is ‘Be Prepared.’ I’ve applied that to my everyday life and my homework for the games.”
Cotroneo has covered and broadcast baseball, hockey, football, basketball, softball, volleyball, pickleball, tennis and water polo in his career. He said baseball is his favorite for one reason.
“It’s because I haven’t done golf yet,” he said with a smile. “But I love doing baseball. There’s a great quote in the Hall of Fame by Chicago Tribune writer Phil Hersh that states, ‘Baseball is the only game you can see on the radio.’ That’s why I love it.”
Cotroneo has fallen in love with Kinston in the 18 months or so that he’s lived here.
“It’s definitely a change of pace for me but it’s a good change of pace; before coming here, I’d never lived somewhere so small,” he said. “This city loves its team. That’s all you can really ask. It’s a great town for minor league baseball – Grainger Stadium is a great place to watch baseball. I really love Kinston.”
Cotroneo is proud to be what he calls “a small part” of the improbable 2017 Mills Cup championship run. He said he realized something special was potentially brewing in late July 2017 before the Woodies played the Buies Creek Astros for the first time at Grainger Stadium. He recalled standing behind the batting cage with manager Howard Johnson, Chuck Moorman and Matt Lipka.
“HoJo looked at me and asked, ‘Is this the first time we’re playing these guys?’ I told him, ‘Yeah, but we play them a ton more,’” Cotroneo said. “Chuck chimed in and asked how games were we back and how games did we have against (the Astros); I told him nine and a half back and 14 games left against Buies Creek. Chuck said, ‘All we have to do is win 12 of them.’
“We won 12 of them. It was kind of crazy but we did it.”
Despite his success at such an early age, Cotroneo continues to heed the advice of his father.
“He taught me it’s a subjective business,” Cotroneo said. “One person can think you’re salt of the earth and another thinks you’re a schmo. It’s one of those things where you can’t get too high when people are kind to you, but you can’t take the harsh criticisms too hard.
“Do your due diligence, put the work in and you’ll know you’ve done your best when the microphone turns off at the end of the night.”
He said his mother Veronica deserves a lot of credit for his success, too.
“My mom is the best person on the planet,” Cotroneo said. “The fact she raised me and my two younger sisters Olivia and Sophia without my dad around a lot is incredible. … My mom is the best and I can’t say that enough.”