For the better part of a year, now, my life has taken some strange and unexpected turns. Yes. You knew that already. Those turns forced me to make many difficult decisions, including choosing to step away from the microphone for the IUPUI Jaguars this season.
As the old saying goes: the show must go on. And it’s going on without me. I’m sad, but I certainly harbor no ill feelings toward anyone. There is no such thing as irreplaceable. I am, in fact, completely and totally replaceable. The Jaguars men’s basketball season started last night without me announcing the opening game for only the third time since 2001. And you know what? The show went on just fine without me.
I made the decision to step away a few months ago when it was clear I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my announcing duties for the upcoming soccer and volleyball seasons. I let the SIDs know well in advance of the seasons to allow time to find replacements, which they did.
For all intents and purposes—and without any official acknowledgement—I believe we all regard these changes to be permanent now, and that’s perfectly understandable. The program needs someone whom they can rely on to be there. My circumstances simply mean I can’t guarantee that.
The show must go on.
With nary a sound nor hint nor any sort of pomp and circumstance, my role as the Jaguars public address announcer has likely come to a close. We parted ways gently and amicably, but the parting seems necessary for all of us to advance on our respective paths. I went out quietly. And I’m okay with that.
For the better part of the past 12 years, I was IUPUI’s public address announcer for basketball, volleyball, soccer and sometimes softball. I loved (nearly) every minute of it. I met some nice people. I watched a lot of great games. My Jaguars career culminated with being the PA announcer at the NCAA Midwest Regional last year; an experience I’ll never forget and probably never top.
If you went to a Jaguars home game in any of those sports over the past decade or so, chances are you heard my voice. Chances are you probably didn’t even notice me or find anything I did to be remotely out of the ordinary. And that’s just the way I liked it. I was there to augment the experience, not be the focal point.
While I sincerely hope to take up PA announcing again at some level, I think my time with IUPUI is officially done. We thought it was done six years ago, when they honored me (by surprise, I should add) with a plaque and halftime announcement. But I pulled a Keith Jackson and came out of retirement. We ripped down the retired number, so to speak, and plowed forth as though the plaque ceremony never happened.
So what’s different now? Given the fact that my current job search could take me far away from Indianapolis, I don’t think it’s fair to play Russian roulette with the Jags program every year. It’s best to simply pass the baton and move on.
It’s a much quieter exit than the last time, and that’s perfectly fine by me. I don’t think the program needs to waste its budget on another plaque for me. Of course, I hope to have the opportunity to come back once in awhile and serve as a guest PA announcer, if they’ll let me; especially when the Jags move to the Coliseum next season, but that’s not something we need to decide right now.
In the meantime, I’ll reflect on more than 10 memorable years that put me in touch with a lot of really great people. I’m going to miss working with the table crew at our games: Joe the official scorekeeper and I started working together in 2001; Matt Davis, one of the best shot clock operators around; Gary, our most recent shot clock regular (who is also one of the best…and always brought us Taco Bell!); Eggiman, who ran the shot clock a lot in the early days; CD, who ran the scoreboard for most of my time at IUPUI; followed by Mike, who took over the past couple years; and too many interns and assistants to name.
I’ll miss the pre-game chats with the officials and coaches. I’ll miss the random, trivial, in-game conversations with Joe, next to whom I sat for at least 90 percent of the games. I’ll miss the cheerleaders and dance teams. I’ll miss the wonky PA system that usually worked (but not without a fight). I’ll miss sitting along press row at the conference tournaments. I’ll miss the JagBand. I’ll miss giving nicknames to JagBand director David Copeland at every game. I’ll miss “one minute remaining.”
I watched one of the best basketball games I’ll ever see—a triple OT thriller against Oral Roberts (Jags won). I watched George Hill become a pro-caliber basketball player and school too many opponents to count. I saw the legendary Rollie Massimino prowl the sidelines at the Jungle. I watched former head coach Ron Hunter become a national sensation by simply coaching a game in his bare feet. I learned to enjoy the game of soccer from the press box, albeit from a perch so high at Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium that you could look down at the Statue of Liberty. I even had the pleasure of butchering my way through a handful of softball games.
I’ll never forget the first time we played at
Conseco Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I’ll never forget the huge weekend in 2007 when we beat Valpo and Oral Roberts in front of a packed house (including a couple Indiana Pacers). I’ll never forget greeting Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan when he came to the Jungle for a pre-Super Bowl basketball game. I’ll never forget calling my first (and only, so far) championship game for the Jaguars last season when the volleyball team won the season championship. All told, it’s been a blast.
Individually, thanks to Ed Holdaway, John “JB” Berry, John “JR” Rasmussen, Mike Moore, Kevin Buerge, Billy Potter, Trevor “T-Mac” MacDonald, Scott Taylor and everyone with the program—past and present—at IUPUI who played some part in the opportunity for me to be the Jags PA announcer. I enjoyed working with you all.
Thanks, IUPUI Jaguars. It was a great ride.