I’m prepping for tomorrow’s IUPUI Jaguars basketball doubleheader at Conseco Fieldhouse, where I’ll be the PA announcer. That means reviewing scripts, timeouts, music, pronunciations, rosters and coaches. Prep for Conseco is no different than prep for The Jungle. The clocks and timeouts all happen at the same time. I confess I get giddy about working there, hoping Quinn Buckner or Larry Bird or Jim Morris—any of the Pacers brass—hears me and plucks me from obscurity to announcer Pacer games. I digress.
I performed in my other capacity with the Jaguars at our previous game at Conseco this week: on-court halftime emcee. I’ve only actually performed as halfcourt emcee once earlier this season. I’m comfortable being on press row seated behind a microphone. Being upright and working the crowd with a wireless handheld? Well, it’s less about comfort and more about fighting through the challenge. It’s been at least a month since being an emcee so last night was a bit of a re-baptism by fire. Especially since I didn’t know I’d be needed on the court until about 10 minutes before halftime. I’d rate my performance Thursday night a C-/D+.
I don’t get nervous being in front of people. Performing isn’t intimidating for me. Remember, I was a casino dice dealer for awhile. I can handle being on display and working a crowd. My anxiety as an emcee stems from my struggle to find the rhythm. I’ll admit working without a script makes me nervous, though. As a PA announcer, I’m tethered to a script out of necessity (hence my OCD-like preparation). It’s a necessary evil. Everything’s timed and coordinated and it’s my job to make sure nobody screws up (including me). Being an emcee is almost exactly the opposite. Less of a coach, your’e now a QB working off a game plan and have to be flexible enough to know when you have to call an audible. It’s a skill as much as it is an art, both of which I intend to master.