Summer/Fall 2002

Speaking of Sports:
The Job of His Dreams

Chris Denari ’83 parlayed lessons learned at Wabash to launch his avocation as the voice of the Indiana Fever, Butler Basketball, and the Indianapolis 500.

By Brent Harris
Director of Sports Information

If you’re a sports fan in the Indianapolis area, you’ve heard his voice. He might have been calling out another Butler University basket or a defensive stop by the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. Maybe you heard him over the roar of the engines at the Indianapolis 500. Or you might have heard him providing an update on the latest events in the Indiana High School Athletic Association. You might have seen him working as the co-chair of the Dribble & Dream Tour during the summer leading up to the 2002 World Basketball Championships.

There’s no doubting Chris Denari’s passion for sports.

It started at a young age and built a head of steam when he played basketball at Westfield High School for his father, Bob.

“That was one the highlights of my sports career,” said Chris. “I was thrilled to be able to play basketball for my father at Westfield. Family has always been very important to me and to have a chance to have my father guide me as a player was so special.”

Denari would have other mentors when he came to Wabash to play basketball. Graduating in 1983, he was a member of the Division III National Championship basketball team that won the title in 1982.

“It was amazing to be around a coach like Mac Petty,” said Denari. “He was such an influence in all of our lives. I learned a lot about being a leader from Pete Metzelaars ’82 and Mike Holcomb ’82, the captains of that 1982 team. We may not have had the best talent in the nation that year, but we had that chemistry that so many teams try and find. We cared about one other as friends and teammates. It made a difference. It made us better players because we wanted everyone to succeed.”

Denari credits much of his success in his career to his experience at Wabash.

“I have to do a lot of time management in terms of my commitments to the Indiana Fever, Butler basketball, and my regular job as the director of sports communications and marketing for Methodist Sports Medicine Center in Indianapolis. I learned those skills at Wabash. I was involved in so many activities at Wabash, in addition to spending time at basketball practice and getting class assignments done. I was working at WNDY, the student radio station. I was a writer for The Bachelor, and I was active in my fraternity. There were so many things that I wanted to do at Wabash. I made time and forced myself to be responsible for my time spent on each project. That’s helped me a great deal in my duties today.”

Denari has to juggle his time even more these days. In addition to his sports duties and his job at Methodist Sports Medicine, he also has a wife, Terry, and three children—Evan, Willie, and Max.

“The support I receive from my family and my workplace is unbelievable,” said Denari. “My family understands that this is something that I really enjoy doing. They support me, allow me to have time to prepare for a broadcast and travel with teams. I may not start to prepare for a broadcast until 9 or 10 p.m. because I want to spend my time at home in the days leading up to an event with my family. I’m also very fortunate to have an understanding employer. Methodist Sports Medicine works with my schedule and allows me to have time to continue to pursue something that I love.”

Denari’s career has put him in the thick of some of Indiana’s most exciting sporting moments. But it was fairly easy for Denari to pick his five most memorable sports moments.

“Playing for my father has to be my favorite, then playing on the national championship team at Wabash ranks second on my most memorable list,” Denari said. “Two Butler basketball broadcasts come to mind, as well. The two victories over Indiana University—one in 1993 at Hinkle Fieldhouse and the other this past season at Conseco Fieldhouse—are certainly memorable, particularly in this state with its great basketball tradition.

“The other Butler broadcast I’ll always remember was the NCAA Tournament game when Butler had a 43-10 lead over Wake Forest.

“My fifth most memorable moment would be working in turn four as a broadcaster on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Racing Network. Growing up as a racing fan, you never dream you’ll have the opportunity to be in turn four and see the cars come by for the start of the race and through the turn to take the checkered flag. It’s as exciting as any moment in sports.”

From playing basketball at Westfield to turn four of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Denari has always been involved in athletics. Nearly everyone who participates in sports dreams of continuing to the professional level by finding a job in the sports field. Denari is living that dream every day — and loving every minute of it.


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