Voice of Quincy football games in for the long haul
If you’re not down, sit down and get quiet to read the story about the guy who inspired this sentence.
His name is Tod Heikes (HI-kiss), and he has been in Quincy for more than 24 years, and for about 20 of those, he has spent his autumn Friday nights cheering for the Quincy Jacks football team as the home games’ public address announcer.
A teacher at Quincy High School since 1994, Heikes credits his predecessor Gene Rosenberger with inspiring him to become a volunteer P.A. Heikes said he used to hear Rosenberger, Heikes’ predecessor behind the mic, come up with cool-sounding lines at games.
“After a time, he decided to be done with it, and I thought I would give it a try,” Heikes said. “I had never done it before.”
Not long after, Heikes realized that there is a lot more to the gig than coming up with cool-sounding lines. Still, he fell in love with it, and after one year, he decided he wanted to keep doing it.
He has no idea how he came up with his catchphrase, “If you’re not up, get up and get loud for the kickoff!”
“I was just trying to build enthusiasm for the team,” he said. “For a while, I tried something along the lines of ‘creating thunder,’ but it didn’t stick, so I went back to ‘get up and get loud.’”
And loud he gets, surprising people to this day when they see that that big voice coming from the stadium’s press box does not come from some big, huge guy. He credits years of teaching, having to project his voice to the back row of the classroom, for the power of his elocution.
“Half the time, people don’t know it’s me,” he said.
A graduate of Cashmere High School and Central Washington University, the 48-year-old Heikes left CWU and had one job interview, at Quincy, got the job, and has been here ever since. It wasn’t as easy as all that.
The man who interviewed him, Jim Spence, thought Heikes was too hyper, so he contacted Gene Sharratt, who had coached baseball with Heikes and who (unbeknownst to Heikes) was the North Central Educational Services District superintendent.
“That’s just the way he is,” Sharratt told Spence, who hung up the phone, called Heikes and offered him the job.
Even approaching the mid-century mark, Heikes shows little sign of slowing down, still serenading his students with “Happy Birthday,” while wearing a green wig and holding a fish, and still looking forward to years of asking people to get up and get loud.
“I’ll do announcing until they fire me,” he said.
He shows up to games 90 minutes early, gets rosters from both teams, gets the names of the refs, gets the pronunciation down, then practices the names, both hands clamped tightly over his ears.
Then, it’s show time.
“I have had kids come up to me and say, ‘I can’t wait till you announce my name,” Heikes said. “And I’m like, ‘I can’t wait to announce your name.’”
Twenty-plus years on, he still gets chills of excitement before he clicks on the mic. He also gets a little nervous, he said, as ad-libbing is not his strong suit.
Sometimes, taking suggestions has gotten him in trouble.
One time, someone suggested he refer to a Quincy huddle as a “hutch of bunnies.”
“It didn’t click in my head that that is not funny at all,” Heikes remembered.
Luckily for him, there was someone more than willing to remind him. Unluckily for him, though, the reminder came after he said it.
“Coach Alex (longtime former Quincy coach and AD Bill Alexander), he spun around and he made eye contact with me,” Heikes said. “And I knew, I was toast. As soon as halftime hit, I ran down, jumped over the fence and went right to him and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ He forgave me, but oh, man. I never did that again.”
A couple of times, he has told the crowd the play is on the 52-yard line.
That has become a bit of an inside joke among the crew at the booth, which now includes Coach Alex.
Over the years, Heikes has seen his share of wins and losses for his beloved Jacks.
The losses don’t affect him, he says, because he just wants to see the boys play hard. If they are trying hard, Heikes is happy.
“Could not care less if we win or lose, as long as we play hard,” he said.
If the score gets lopsided, either way, he stops announcing the score, figuring most everybody on the bleachers can look to their right and check out the scoreboard.
One thing that bugs him is when the crowd doesn’t get into it on third or fourth downs.
“That’s when I try to use the mic to get (people involved),” he said.
A couple of times, he’s gotten so pumped that he’s forgotten that the mic was on. Nothing R-rated was heard, but he has checked ever since.
As an announcer, football is it for Heikes, a former wrestler under state Hall of Famer John Durheim in Cashmere.
Other sports already have their announcers who have been doing it for years, he said.
Besides, not doing P.A. for other sports allows him to be a fan, sometimes cheering for his daughter Bryn, a standout long-distance runner for QHS.
But during the fall, and next year, in a new stadium, you know where you will find him.
“I just love doing this,” he said.
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org