Travis Shrout is just 18 but he's a third-generation member of Cleveland Local 1377, having followed his parents and grandparents into the broadcasting industry in northeast Ohio.
| Cleveland Local 1377 member Travis Shrout.
|Shrout and his older brother, Tyler, while the two worked for Fox Sports during its coverage of the NFL Draft in Cleveland in April 2021.
|Stow, Ohio, mayor John Pribonic awards Shrout a proclamation awarded by city officials. The Shrout family lives in Stow.
It's why he understands community service is a key tenet of IBEW membership — one that showed in a big way during a family vacation in July when he rescued a mother and her 10-year-old son from a dangerous undertow off the North Carolina coast.
Video of the rescue was captured by an overhead drone and shared on social media, leading to national news coverage and numerous honors for Shrout, including the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award.
The college sophomore was honored during a city council meeting in his hometown of Stow, Ohio. He's been interviewed by multiple local Cleveland television stations and the nationally syndicated "Inside Edition."
"It's pretty crazy," said Shrout, who attends Hiram College, where he's a member of the school's soccer team. "A family friend who was there with us said he wanted to put his drone out [over the water] to test its tracking. Had he not done that, no one would have known about it. It's crazy how it came to be."
Before he started working on broadcast crews at Cleveland sporting events, Shrout underwent YMCA lifesaving training and later worked as a lifeguard. He put those skills to use on July 3, the final day of a family vacation in Topsail Beach, N.C.
He was swimming with his boogie board when he noticed Ashley Batchelor and her son, Conner, were struggling about 15 yards away.
"I just kind of naturally look out and keep my eye on people," he said. "There were two people out farther than me, and I was out pretty far. That was definitely not normal."
Shrout asked if they were OK. When Ashley responded with "no," he swam several yards to her and gave her the board to support herself. He then swam farther out to reach Conner, whose head was slipping beneath the water.
"That was probably the first time I was a little scared," Travis said. "I had given up the thing I could float on, so I didn't really know what I was going to do when I got to him."
Using that lifeguard training, he was able to get one arm around Conner and use the other to swim back to Ashley.
"She told me, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you,'" Shrout said. "'You're my hero.' I told her, 'Let's get back to shore first.'"
They did just that, supporting themselves on the board and using the waves to help push them in. Shrout estimated the entire episode took about four minutes.
Batchelor told "Inside Edition" she told Shrout repeatedly after the incident he had saved the pair's life.
"I told him if I could give you anything in the world, I would give it to you right now," said Batchelor, who embraced Travis' mother when she and her son finally got to shore. "I told her if he has no other purpose in life, he has fulfilled his purpose."
Gretia Shrout, Travis' mother, posted the video shot from the drone on her Facebook page alongside a healthy dose of motherly pride.
A few days later, the family started hearing from reporters from Cleveland television stations and the Akron Beacon Journal.
"This goes back to something he and his brother learned in Boy Scouts, and really has stuck with our family, is that you need to do a good turn daily," said Gretia, who now works as a media manager for NFL Films. "Whether it is as simple as holding the door open or going to mow the lawn for an elderly person, there's always something to do for someone. Both boys were raised that way."
Travis received a proclamation from the mayor in Stow, Ohio, the city where the Shrouts live near Akron. He also has been nominated for the Carnegie Hero Award, which is awarded to a person in either the United States or Canada who risks their own life while saving the lives of others.
"He's like, 'I don't know why it's that big of a deal,'" Gretia said. "'Anyone would have done that.' I remind him a whole beach full of people were there that day and they didn't know what was going on. That's how heroes are made. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things."
During the NFL season, the younger Shrout works Cleveland Browns home games, where he can be seen carrying the parabolic microphone along the sideline. Often called the sound disk, the microphone looks like a small satellite dish and picks up hard-to-reach sounds on the field. He also works sideline utility.
Shrout usually is employed by CBS or Fox Sports, which qualifies him for IBEW membership.
"It's definitely not glamorous," he said. "You're getting dirty and you're on your feet all day. But it's a lot of fun. It's like a little family that gets together on Sunday. Everyone jokes around but gets the job done."
Working the Browns games truly is a Shrout family tradition. Rick Shrout, Travis' grandfather, started it in 1994 and worked utility, making sure all the wires and electrical equipment were installed properly before a telecast. He currently operates the sideline cart during Browns' home games.
Karen Shrout, Rick's wife and Travis' grandmother, started working sideline utility in 1999 and, like her grandson, now operates a parabolic microphone on the sideline. Gretia worked in utility during the Browns games from 2012 to 2016.
Jesse Shrout, Gretia's husband and Travis' father, worked utility from 2000 to 2019 and now is a Hawk-eye technician at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns' home field. Hawk-eye syncs various camera angles together and allows NFL officials to view replays of a call on the field as quickly as possible.
"Each time we had a situation where someone retired or left and someone could jump on the crew, we've always had someone step up and say, 'I'll do it,'" Gretia said. "I can't explain the pride we have in saying this is third-generation. It's really kind of a cool thing. Tech managers from the networks come in and jokingly say, 'This is Shrout Stadium.'"
They're all proud to uphold the high standards their employers have for IBEW members on the job, and they're also proud of the new lifesaver in the family, even if he still thinks anyone would have done the same thing.