First, let me say thank you to all the Warrior football fans who made my first season as public address announcer a lot of fun. In case you weren’t aware, I guess now is the time to tell you — yep, that was me.
I had mentioned previously that our late friend Ed Grimes had told me for awhile that when he was gone, he would like me to take his place in his sacred press box. Although I had “retired” from the broadcast business, this was a different challenge and while it did take some convincing to the Mrs. to once again allow me to give up Friday nights, the fact that our friend Ed insisted on it made her more open to the idea. So off I went.
It was a season of change for a lot of us. The crew that worked Warriors games for years had either passed on or left their duties. What was once a full house was limited to three of us for the most part: myself, spotter Roger Davis and my brother Jared Clough as scoreboard operator. I think Jared had the toughest gig of all, but he took to it very well.
There was the first week when we had the most-junior member of the JV referee crew come to the booth at a timeout and threaten to fire him after a few first-quarter mishaps. Seriously, nothing lightens the mood than an official taking his job far too seriously. It led to the punchline of “how can you fire a volunteer?” He was perfect after that.
Being a public address announcer is different than being a play-by-play announcer for a variety of reasons, so there were a few adjustments I had to make. But in the end, the premise remained the same. There was a microphone and an audience to inform, and most importantly, entertain, so away I went. This audience, however, has a lot better access so when a mistake is made, or a name mispronounced, they can easily correct you, and I never had a problem correcting myself. It’s part of the gig.
I tried to make it fun, to remind people every Friday night as we prepared for the opening kickoff that we were all taking part in something special. It’s far more than a game. It's what makes places like Tehachapi and other small towns unique, so drink it in.
The press box is the best seat in the house at Coy Burnett Stadium, that’s for sure, except when the ball is on either 15-yard line. Then those pesky light poles obstruct the view. So, if I missed calling someone’s name in that area, I apologize, but pass the blame on the inanimate object and the 1960s design of the stadium. Some stadium improvements should be sent to the front of the line.
I would have loved my first season to have been historic for other reasons, not the fact that the team struggled mightily, but life doesn’t always write you the perfect fairy tale. I guess we can all just chalk up this season to being the first chapter of an amazing comeback saga. We’ll know for sure in 12 months.
I’ve had the pleasure of traveling this country and turning on microphones in more than 35 states in the Union. I’ve called games from the smallest of arenas to the mecca of sports, Madison Square Garden. Let me tell you, none of them ever felt as right as being at Coy Burnett Stadium. There’s something about the history, the people, the task at hand, the product on the field. It’s home, and as imperfect and dated as it is, it’s the place I’m meant to be.
When I finished my last broadcast for Cal State Bakersfield basketball in the spring of 2017, I left The Garden, hailed a cab on 8th Avenue in New York and I knew then that part of my career was finished. I had no problem leaving it at an iconic venue like that. Little did I know that cab would take me to another microphone, in a tiny brick press box more than 2,700 miles away.
Life might not always pen the perfect fairy tale, but occasionally, it gets pretty darn close.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.