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When it comes to public address announcing, softball has always been something of a discomfort zone for me. I’ve done it so infrequently that it barely counts. A couple months ago, I was asked by the IUPUI Jaguars program if I’d help out and announce some games. Naturally, I obliged. Of course, no one expected the colossal trainwreck that followed.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but compared to basketball, soccer and volleyball, my performance as a softball PA announcer leaves nothing but room for improvement. Take yesterday’s doubleheader at the IUPUI Softball Complex. When announcing the starting lineups for the teams, I had trouble recognizing one of the names as it was written on the lineup card. The batter in question was eighth in the lineup. I correctly identified her position and number, but her name? A pregnant pause gave way to a second of awkward silence, which allowed just enough panic to set in that I winged it on the illegible name: “Audria…Begonia,” I said, to a smattering of laughs from both the team’s players and the fans scattered in the bleachers behind me.

I glanced at IUPUI’s Sports Information Director John Berry, who could barely contain his laughter, corrected me between giggled. “Basquez!” he said.

Yep. I turned Basquez into Begonia. It gave J.B something to laugh about for a solid five innings.

After the name faux pas, everything else settled down. The Jags won the nightcap 3-1, after dropping the first game 5-4. Truth is, I don’t mind working softball, but it’s not as comfortable as working for our other sports. I don’t think I’m telling any stories out of class by saying the Softball Complex leaves much to be desired. There is no press box, forcing the stat crew, visiting SID and gameday crew to occupy a couple rickety tables behind the backstop. There is no overhead cover, exposing us and, more importantly, our gear, to the elements. When it’s cold and threatening to rain in early spring, it’s especially cold for us. When it’s an otherwise warm, perfect day (as it was yesterday), we bake in the sun. I went through about five bottles of water just to stay hydrated.

We end up spending most of our time standing behind home plate, going through our motions. It’s not as intense a pace as basketball or volleyball, nor is it as slow as soccer. From an announcer’s standpoint, there’s not much to announce other than batters, pinch runners, new pitchers, etc. Even though I’m a baseball fan, my relative lack of familiarity with working softball lends itself to dumb errors. Should I pick up the slack and announce at softball next season, I’ll need to tighten up.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to win the Powerball jackpot so I can build a press box for next season.


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Filed under IUPUI Jaguars, PA Announcing, sports

you don’t change the devil. the devil changes you.

The older I get, the more challenging announcing basketball games is becoming. I’m not having a woe-is-me moment. I’m really and honestly noticing more and more vocal difficulties. I’m not a young lad anymore who can wistfully go about his day eating and drinking what I want and then sit behind a mic on Press Row and give a flawless performance. Oh wait. I never give a flawless performance! But you get my drift.

Right from the start of the men’s game tonight at Conseco Fieldhouse—the nightcap of a doubleheader—I noticed my voice giving out. In fact, I struggled to soldier through the starting lineups. I wasn’t losing my voice, but I was losing range and “strength.” Conseco’s audio setup doesn’t allow the announcer to move the dials. It’s set and you deal with it. If it’s coming through quiet, talk louder. If it’s still quite, yell. And that’s what it became. All that whooping and hollering takes a toll; sometimes during the game (as it did tonight). If PA announcing is driving, imagine tonight was driving in a bit of a storm. You can get from Point A to Point B, but you have to make certain concessions you normally wouldn’t under optimal conditions.

Ultimately the blame falls on the person, not the mic. You don’t change the devil. The devil changes you. A sketchy microphone will always be a sketchy microphone because it doesn’t know any better and can’t adjust. You adjust to the mic or suffer the consequences. I just didn’t adjust quickly enough this evening. I think I performed better than my on-court nonsense Thursday night, but I’m also glad this wasn’t an audition.

But you can’t hang it on lack of preparation. I was prepared. And, true to form, all that preparation paid off when it came time to flip the script and make changes on the fly as there’s a basketball game being played 10 feet away. An IUPUI Jaguars game at Conseco Fieldhouse is always a special occasion for us, so we like to involve our fans, alumni and supporters as much as we can. Tonight was no exception as we honored IUPUI faculty furing four of our eight scheduled timeouts as well as a cheerleader alumni gathering during halftime. The gameday crew got its cardio for the day, running back and forth between gathering people and bringing me the final script and then adding announcements and halftime activities…all moments before going live. Amazing there’s such a constant buzz of activity on and around Press Row while there’s a college basketball game being played 10 feet away from us in an NBA arena.

I can roll with those punches all day long because I work with top-notch folks who handle it all with ease. That’s the easy part of it all. I have to take better care of the pipe on game days to ensure my best performance. All the coordination and preparation won’t cover a hoarse throat. Time to consult some singers to see what they do.

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Filed under IUPUI Jaguars, PA Announcing, sports