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Sean Grande '87 | Voice of the Boston Celtics

Michael Mudho // Director of Alumni Relations
Class of 1987 Friends alum and the “Voice of the Boston Celtics” reflects on his time at Friends and his career as a radio and television sportscaster.
What are some of your earliest memories of Friends?
When you’re 10, 11 years old, the Meetinghouse and silence itself was intimidating. I was coming from an elementary school that was a little more free-flowing, not as academically challenging. What I remember now, is what we’d call “having to step up” in my current line of work, as I quickly learned, there were levels to this at Friends. My earliest memory was that both the teachers, and the students I was now surrounded with, were on a different level when it came to both their backgrounds, and their talent.
Who are some of the teachers/faculty that you remember fondly?
Too many to mention, but going solely on things that stick with you forty years later, Phil Schwartz comes to mind immediately. I go back to Ron Singer, Martin Smith and Pam Wood (El-Okdah) in Middle School, younger teachers like Pam Phillips and Peter Merkle coming in during Upper School. Ed Schneider was a favorite as well.
Tell me about the work you do now.
It’s the same work essentially I’ve done since college. I watch people do things, and tell you what they’re doing. But really, the best way to describe play-by-play is providing the lyrics in real time to the music that’s being made on the field, on the court, on the ice, in the ring, or wherever the music is being made. A lot of us grew up reading the game story in the newspaper the next day. Play-by-play is telling the story as it’s happening.
Did you play sports at Friends?
I was a ballplayer, but since we didn’t have baseball, I was on the softball team for three years in high school. Our infield my last year…. [was] master chef Wylie Dufrense ’88 at first, me at second, Cory Diamond ’88 (eventual assistant basketball coach at Brown, now a Dean at BU) at short, and award winning filmmaker Bart Freundlich ’88 (who married someone even more famous than I did) at third. I’m not sure what our W-L record was, but I’m sure we ended up leading the league in Wikipedia pages.
Did you envision a career in sports while a student at Friends? Was there any particular event that sparked your passion for sports?
That’s all I did. I think when I first got to Friends for seventh grade, my plan probably centered around playing second base for the Mets. But like most kids who grow up in Manhattan, you eventually realize the skinned knees from the concrete are going to be your doom, and you look for another way to the big stage. The announcers of my childhood in New York (Bob Murphy, Tim McCarver, Sam Rosen, Marv, etc.) made memories for me, they punctuated and told what really were my bedtime stories growing up. I thought if I’m not going to play for the Mets, that path would be a pretty cool second.
In what ways have Quaker values and your experience at Friends influenced the work you do today? How do you understand the work you do now as bringing about a world that ought to be?
I gravitated to sports as a child because I thought that’s what the world should be. Where the playing field was level for everyone. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an important holiday in the NBA, and every year I open the broadcast talking not just about Dr. King, but about how his dream lives on in the league, and sports in general. Here a man is judged not by the color of his skin but the content of his game. I know at some level it feels like there’s an incongruity between Quaker values and the highly competitive world of sports, I just never saw it that way.
What are your hopes, dreams and plans for your work in the future?
I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had 25 years (and nearly 2300 games) in the NBA, called every major sport, traveled the country extensively and even the world calling fights the last decade—3 NBA Finals, (what I’m told is a record) 16 NCAA Hockey Championship Games, world title fights, and being on the ice for a Stanley Cup presentation. As a kid, starting at the clock across 16th Street, you could say I daydreamed about that. Now, I tend to think of my aspirations in terms of performing at a high level, as opposed to calling specific events. Besides, anyone that knew me at Friends would know getting to call a couple of Mets games this spring with Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling was that teenager with his Mets jacket’s dream come true.
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Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.