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Solana Beach resident Josh Lewin calls UCLA football and basketball games. Courtesy photo
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Sports Talk: Announcing during COVID-19 includes roses, thorns for Lewin

Josh Lewin doesn’t own a surfboard, despite living a stone’s throw from the ocean.

But after his latest adventure of broadcasting UCLA football, he appreciates what those riding waves experience below his Solana Beach digs.

“It really does teach us to be like surfers and to stay in the moment, react to your surroundings and practice your Zen,” Lewin said. “I’m kind of eyeing football in the same way.”

Lewin puts his pupils on UCLA football and basketball and does a stellar job relaying his sights and sounds to listeners. But doing so during a pandemic comes with challenges, which was illustrated in the run-up to the recent Bruins game against Utah.

After a week of preparing to deliver insight on the Utes quest to defeat UCLA, Lewin was thrown a bear of a curve when the game was postponed at the last minute.

With COVID-19 raging through Utah’s roster, the Bruins pivoted from welcoming the Utes on Nov. 14 to swinging the Rose Bowl doors open and beating California the following day after a 9 a.m. kickoff.

“Maybe I can use all these great notes on Utah if they play on Dec. 19,” Lewin said of a possibly rescheduled game.

Lewin, 52, was the onetime, longtime voice of the San Diego Chargers. But when they fled for Los Angeles, they did so without an RSVP to Lewin.

Chargers officials said they wanted a talent closely associated with L.A., apparently overlooking Lewin had been the voice of the Bruins since 2016.

So Lewin stayed in North County and he watches the last-place Chargers (2-7) go south. No hard feelings as it presents Sundays for Lewin to root for his beloved Buffalo Bills.

By the way, how did they blow their last game in the last second to the Arizona Cardinals?

“I’m not talking about that,” Lewin said, and we’ve never heard those words escape his mouth.

Since March, Lewin has called a wide range of “events.” His most popular one is “The Throwback League,” a podcast that is an imaginary game between World Series teams.

Because of Lewin’s extensive range of contacts, many of the participants are part of the compelling re-creations.

That endeavor began after a bored Lewin started doing calls of mundane household chores or cooking. The content has its own YouTube channel, “Play By Play Of Anything At All,” and it’s true to its title.

The anticipation of a Mexican delicacy going from freezer to table is given the dramatic flair and enthusiasm once reserved for LaDainian Tomlinson touchdown runs.

“The old El Paso taquito almost ready,” Lewin purrs through his signature, engaging voice. “A giddy sense of anticipation here in Josh’s kitchen, this crowd — the wife, the dog — everyone waiting for the Maytag microwave to produce these 180 calories of abject perfection.”

The brainstorm for that slice of announcing came from Lewin visiting his nearby CVS Pharmacy on Highway 101. Little did a driver know his departure was being accompanied by such an uplifting narrative.

“Camry, looking, looking … no one coming left, no one coming right. Guns the engine and he is gone!” Lewin screams on the voice-over. “Toyota Camry has left the lot!”

Lewin no longer leaves Pasadena when barking about the Bruins. For Saturday’s game at Oregon, he’ll duck into his booth at the Rose Bowl where he’ll paint the picture off a video feed supplied by a single camera.

“It’s surreal,” he said. “I would love to be able to describe the general scene of Autzen Stadium, which is a great place to play, and (UCLA coach) Chip Kelly returning to Oregon.

“I miss the travel, seeing old friends and going to cool places. But right now that’s not a thing in 2020. I know and appreciate that other people have it far worse.”

Lewin always shreds with a microphone. But on a surfboard? Oh, to hear the play-by-play of that wipeout.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him @jparis_sports

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