Growing up in rural Iowa I really didn’t have much of a connection to the sport of hockey. The closest I really got was seeing a random game on television… and playing floor hockey in gym class.
That changed my junior year in high school. I was working part-time at a local radio station and our sports director was also the public address announcer for the Waterloo Blackhawks. He knew there would be times he’d have to miss a hockey game due to covering high school sports on the radio so he asked if I’d fill in for him.
The idea of being on the mic in a sports arena was appealing… but I was a little nervous since I knew absolutely nothing about hockey. He assured me that I’d do fine and pointed out there would be two guys keeping stats and running the scoreboard that would help me out.
He also explained that the job wasn’t that hard. Announce the starting line-ups. Mis-pronouncing an opposing team members name was fine but he gave me a crash course in the hometeam’s names so I had that down.
Whenever there was a score I’d announce the time of the goal, who shot it, and who assisted. The only other part to the job was calling out program winners. “Blackhawk fans, turn to page “whatever” in your program. If you have a red star in the pizza ad bring your program to the announcer’s booth to get your prize.”
Yep. I passed out prizes. That’s also how I got paid. I didn’t make any money. My payment was getting to keep any prizes that went uncollected. Over the course of the two seasons that I filled in, I walked away with lots of free pizzas, movie passes, bowling, and similar freebies.
My favorite part of that job was at the very beginning of every game. After warm-ups, the team would leave the ice, have a little pre-game meeting/pep talk and then come back ready to play.
As they skated back on the ice, Gun’s N’ Roses “Welcome To The Jungle” would blare from the loudspeakers and I’d take to the mic. “Here come the Blackhawks!” The crowd would go wild. It really was quite a rush.
By now, you’re probably starting to wonder why this post is titled: The Coldest Hockey Game Ever. It all goes back to my very first hockey game and my very first time announcing.
I wanted to fit in so I thought I’d wear team colors. I chose a red t-shirt and black vest to go with my jeans. Go ahead and laugh but vests were popular then.
Perhaps you noticed the flaw in my wardrobe selection. I forgot to take into consideration that I’d be sitting on a slab of ice for two hours! Adrenaline kept me warm for the first part of the game but by the 3rd period, I was frozen. I got in my car and blasted the heat at the end of the night.
It was a lesson learned and after that, I dressed warmer. A lot warmer! That was one of the most interesting and fun part-time jobs I’ve ever done.
What’s a fun/interesting job you’ve had?