When Kate Scott, the play-by-play voice of the Philadelphia 76ers, hears the word “trailblazer,” she smiles politely. She knows her résumé is going to be read back to her.
It’s a long list of firsts:
First woman on the Pac-12 Network to call a football game, part of her play-by-play duties at the network alongside basketball, soccer, softball and more.
First woman to call an NFL game on the radio.
Scott was the play-by-play voice for the first all-female NHL broadcast.
She was the first woman to call a Warriors game on the radio, part of an all-female broadcast team.
Her summer was packed with calling Olympic basketball for NBC during the Tokyo Games and soccer games for Fox on the Copa America tournament.
And before she made a splash by landing the coveted job as 76ers play-by-play broadcaster, she co-hosted The Morning Roast sports talk radio show on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, the No. 4 market in the country.
“I haven't wrapped my head around the fact that people see me as a trailblazer,” Scott said.
The pedestal feels strange to her, but Scott does not minimize the years she put in doing the work.
“It feels like I'm supposed to be here now," Scott said. "I feel like I belong. And I think for a lot of women in this industry, there is that ‘imposter syndrome’ tossed around. Am I worthy? Have I earned it? Do I belong here?
"I don't feel that way anymore, which is a really wonderful place to be."
The Clovis native and Bay Area favorite was introduced to the Philly fan base this summer when Marc Zumoff retired as the voice of the Sixers after 27 years on the job.
Scott knew fans would be curious, skeptical even, about a woman from California taking over. Zumoff invited her to lunch to pass the baton.
“I've known Mark for a couple of years, which I think really helped me make this transition," Scott said. "His advice to me was you got to be yourself, Kate. They hired you because you -- they weren't looking for Zumoff 2.0. They were looking for the next phase of this. And that is you.”
His endorsement was part of a massive media blitz to welcome Scott to the city. She did weeks of interviews covering her resume, her fandoms, her LGBTQ pride as a gay woman, and everything in between.
She said the support has been special.
“I've gotten calls and texts from [Bob Fitzgerald] and everybody in the Bay Area. Mike Breen and Kevin Harlan and all the national voices have reached out, which has been just unexpected and great to have conversations with all of them.”
Scott is in a unique situation to be a trailblazer alongside another woman, Lisa Byington, the new play-by-play voice of the Milwaukee Bucks. After 75 years of no full-time female play-by-play voices, suddenly the league has two in the same year.
“We've been texting each other on and off a couple of times a week,” Scott said.
The Sixers brought Scott into the fold immediately. She recalled Doc Rivers introducing himself warmly.
“One of the first days I was here, he said, ‘Kate, you know what? I don't know anything about you," Scott remembers. "But I know that I never set out to be the first black anything. I'm sure you didn't set out to be the first female anything. So why don't you come in my office and let's chat for a bit.’
"So went into his office. We chatted for 20 minutes, didn't talk anything about basketball.”
Rivers invited Scott to watch practices and film with the team whenever she wanted to. She sits in a balcony above the practice court, joining front office members and scouts.
Scott’s rapport with Sixers color commentator Alaa Abdelnaby slid into place naturally, too.
“I can tell that there's already that mutual respect, which means so much because then I feel comfortable saying, ‘Why did they switch on that screen? What are they doing in this defensive rotation?’ " Scott said.
"And that allows me to watch the game differently as I'm calling it. We have a ton of fun, and obviously call what's happening, but we really like to educate in a non-patronizing way."
The Sixers broadcasters are not traveling yet this season, so Scott will be calling Wednesday's game against the Warriors from afar. She said she keeps an eye on the Warriors and the ways they’ve built the best record in the NBA.
Scott hopes the second Warriors-Sixers game this season on Dec. 11 will be more representative of Philadelphia’s strength. Right now her team is depleted with injuries and players in the COVID-19 protocols.
When December rolls around, Scott hopes she’ll be even better as well. One of her favorite sayings is “little by little, one walks far.” Each day for Scott at her new job is a way to dive into basketball, and only basketball, after a career shaped by saying “yes” to every opportunity.
“I've called a lot of damn things and spent a lot of years honing my craft and getting all the reps that make you really good at this,” she said.
“I'm really excited to go all-in on one sport for a really long time.”