Today's interviewee is Neil Nichols, the public-address announcer for Southeast Whitfield football, softball, basketball, baseball, soccer and the Marching Raider Band. Nichols also is an assistant varsity soccer coach and the athletic director at Valley Point Middle School.
Neil Nichols, Southeast Whitfield PA announcer
1. What's your background? "I grew up the son of a 20-year Navy veteran. We moved around a lot, but I graduated from Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tenn., and was a member of the wrestling team and band. I then went on to Tennessee Technological University, where I was a member of the sports medicine department assigned to football and baseball. I currently have three degrees from Tennessee Tech. I began coaching in South Carolina for three years, then coached in Tennessee for two and have spent the last 18 in Georgia. I have coached football, softball, wrestling, track, cross country, cheerleading and baseball."
2. You're the voice of five sports teams and a marching band. You coach another team, and you're a middle school athletic director. What do you enjoy about your life in school sports and activities? "As an announcer, I love to recognize students for their hard work. I want to say as many names as possible. I know how hard they work in practice, and if I can recognize that, it makes me feel good. As a coach, I love seeing them achieve what we work on. In wrestling, if I taught a move and a kid was successful with it, I felt better than when I won a match personally. I love the fact that I get to watch a great bunch of students grow from scared sixth-graders walking in our door to seniors ready to take on the world in high school. My Valley Point Middle/Southeast Whitfield High kids are truly a blessing to me."
3. How many high school and middle school sporting events do you estimate that you see per academic year? What has been the most memorable one? "Announcing as many events as I do and serving as middle school AD, I would say I see at least 80 games a year. I also announce some dance and cheer state and national championships, which would take me up to around 90. I would say my most memorable would be the 2017 4A state championship soccer game. Our Raiders went into overtime against a great Druid Hills squad. Both teams were heavyweights, throwing everything they had at each other, with the Raiders winning the title. Such a special moment as my son and I both got rings and our school won its first-ever state title."
4. Is there things about school sports that you wish were better? "I love sports. I love competition. I think it brings out the best in kids. I think it can bring out the worst in some fans. Remember, these are 15- to 18-year-old kids who put their all on the line for their school, for their communities - for pride, not pay. I wish every parent could see the work that goes into the Friday night games, the number of people it takes to hold a home game, the hours of film and practice coaches put in away from their own families. There are parents who never see games because they are in concession stands or parking lots all to make the game possible. I wish they could remember this especially - the score on the scoreboard does not determine your worth as a human being. I love the competition, and I love to win, but I wish all fans could reward the effort more."
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