Although we’re a small school, Mondoville fields a ton of athletic squads. For example, during Spring semester, we have teams playing baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse (and soon we’re adding a men’s team), wrestling, and soon enough, track and field, along with competitive cheer and dance squads. All of this is at a school with fewer than 1200 students, so it isn’t really surprising that sometimes staffing gets worn a little thin.
For example, every once in a while, we have more athletic events on campus than we have people to work the events. This weekend, the athletic department was short a PA announcer for the basketball games this afternoon, so they asked me if I’d fill in. It was kind of them to think of me — I suspect it’s because I tend to show up at a lot of the games, or perhaps because, having done a stint as “faculty guest coach” last year, the move to Press Row seemed natural. (Also, I work cheap — Mrs. M asked if I was going to be paid in nachos from the concession stand.) And it was yet another way to put off grading papers, so I agreed to take the gig, despite the fact that my speech has occasionally been compared to that of the HAL 9000 from 2001.
“Open the gym door, Mondo!” “I’m sorry, Coach. I can’t do that.”
So I got to our friendly confines about an hour before the doubleheader was to begin with the women’s game. I looked over the script for the pregame announcements and jotted down the information I needed about the starters (“A six-foot, three-inch center from Glamorgan Vale, Queensland, Australia…”). I found out that the National Anthem would be sung by one of the team’s redshirt freshpeeps, who happens to be in one of my classes. She was a little nervous, but when I mentioned that I had done it once before, she relaxed a little, and she did a fine job.
When I was a kid, I seem to remember the stadium announcers maintaining at least a facade of neutrality; I’m old enough to remember the “No cheering in the press box” ethos, and it seems that would extend to announcers as well. But O tempora! O mores! — that really isn’t the style anymore, although it might be my natural inclination. The style these days is more cheerleaderish than journalistic, and when in Rome, shoot Roman Candles, say I. So while I introduced the opponents and called their baskets in something approaching my normal conversational voice, Mondoville’s achievements led me to swoopier inflections and a tone that borrowed from Michael Buffer and Kentucky basketball announcer Patrick Whitmer, but which I hope wasn’t clownish.
There was also the matter of trying to spot players and make correct calls. If #10 fouls, how many is that for him? For the team? And if you haven’t got the names and numbers memorized, and you’re checking the rosters, but you don’t want to blather while someone is shooting free throws, and…
Well, it took a little while to get a rhythm down, and I don’t think Buffer or Whitmer have anything to fear from me. Still, I was feeling a bit more relaxed as the afternoon wore on.
One really cool aspect of the day was that this was the final home game of the season, so it was the day in which we recognized our seniors for the last home games of their careers. Because we’re a small school, and because I go to a lot of games, I’ve developed interests in many of these kids, and I felt really honored to verbally escort them onto the court for their farewell performances. In particular, one of today’s seniors — a fan favorite — has been in a couple of my classes over his time here; in fact, I’m teaching him this semester. I’ll admit I got a little choked up for these kids, but maybe a little more when I was announcing this one.
Fortunately, our kids went out on a high note, winning both games by comfortable margins, so the winning streak I started last year continues. And the free hot dogs were nice, so it was worth being a touch hoarse as I walked back home.
I’m pleased to report that there will be some action on the authorial front before too terribly long — more details as things develop. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to speaking at a meeting of the local chapter of Sisters in Crime in May. I also got to do a fun interview with Mondoville’s marketing department a few days ago, for an article that will likely appear in the College’s alumni magazine this summer. I’ll let you know if there’s an online edition.
On the music scene, the Berries’ gig-a-month streak for 2017 seems to continue, as we’ve added a show at Art Bar for April. Our next show is in a few weeks at the Soundbox Tavern Upstate. We’re also edging toward pre-production for some recording, which should be fun.
And since this is a potpourri post, I’ll do my usual thing and close with a bit of music. I’ve mentioned before that I spent the summer after my junior year of high school at Western Kentucky University as part of a special program for high school students that ran in the 1970s and 80s. I greatly value the eight weeks I spent in Bowling Green (and at no time was I massacred.) In any case, the Mad Dog recently recommended this song to me, figuring correctly that it was in my wheelhouse. I had heard of the band before, but hadn’t known that they originally hailed from Bowling Green, KY (although they didn’t succeed until they relocated to London — England, not Kentucky.) This is Cage the Elephant, with “Cold Cold Cold.”
See you soon!