Back To The Booth
Greetings again from “The Booth!”
In this week’s edition, we salute our area High School football teams, who get back to action this weekend. We not only wish you all a successful season, but a safe one. Get out there and support your favorite team, and as (I believe) the Beach Boys sang, “be true to your school.” Also, remember the morning announcements of the great Eve Arden in the movie “Grease” who said over Rydell High’s intercom, “if you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.”
Speaking of High School football, I was chatting with our HS football play-by-play announcer Charles Harbaugh IV this week about the upcoming season, and about some of my adventures in broadcasting high school football over the years. I’ve been spoiled somewhat in my 16 seasons of being the “voice of Shenandoah University football.” The press box , Shentel Stadium, and facilities are top-notch, as are most of the schools in the ODAC. Even at the NCAA Division-III level, we are given the D-I treatment with great food in the hospitality areas, plenty of updated stats and player bios, and on the road we stay at pretty good hotels and dine very well, thank you.
Not so much at the high school level. Our area schools for the most part have very nice facilities. But when you’re on the road, , it’s hit-and-miss. First, you usually travel & eat on your own dime. It’s not uncommon for a high-school play-by-play guy to be carrying Value Meal #7 into the booth, and cramming it down his gullet 30 minutes before broadcast. Said broadcaster is also usually grabbing a game program for the rosters, and getting pre-game stats & info from the local newspaper.
And, you never know where the Athletic Director is going to put you, if you’re the visiting radio station. I remember being sent to the top of a press box in November in a cold rain, with a makeshift tarp over our heads (which blew away 10 minutes into the broadcast). The soaked rosters and stats became useless in a hurry.
Then, there’s the trip to Loudoun Valley HS years ago, where we were told to set up shop in the corner of the end zone on top of the station van. Try figuring out what yard line the teams are on from that vantage point.
I have also had the pleasure of calling 4 state championship games, including Handley’s 1984 state win at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. I thought I had died and gone to “the big time.” The Judge’s VHSL championship win in the mud at Gate City is also a special memory, as are the Sherando state title games.
The stories go on and on, and they have become fun to recount over the years, and I’m sure there will be many more to tell. Maybe I’ll write a book when I retire. But for now, another season begins, and there’s nothing quite like game day in “the booth.”
Until next week, when we start writing each week about Shenandoah University Football, GO HORNETS!