Sarah Ebeling | Editor
Friday night football lights. It is a big deal in a lot of places. The game. The excitement. The fans. The kids. The voice giving the minute-by-minute plays.
Parker is no exception to any of this. Any Pheasant football fan knew in the past that the minute the microphone switched on who it was behind the mic. It had been the same voice, calling the plays, keeping fans up to date, for the past 39 years. Joe Volz was “that” voice. The smooth, easy-going sound that drew a person in as they listen to it. The kind that can easily tell a story.
Volz started announcing years ago for the Pheasants. He explained that Al Roeder had the job when he coached football years ago. Volz assisted then head coach Gayle Hoover for a year before becoming head coach himself for eight years. It was after he quit coaching that he was asked to be a spotter for Roeder, meaning it was his job to name the player who made the defensive play.
He laughed, recalling Roeder broadcasting from a chair sitting on top of a bus parked around the 50-yard line behind some makeshift bleachers. There was scaffolding later on for the announcers too he recalled.
Volz spotted for Roeder for three years, until Roeder’s son graduated and Roeder decided to step down from announcing. It was then that Volz took over and has spent almost every home game for the past 39 years now, calling for the Pheasants.
Until now. As this year’s football season loomed, Volz decided several weeks before the first game that he was stepping down and would not broadcast the plays any longer.
“I just felt it was time,” he said.
Although he has stepped down, Volz is taking almost four decades worth of memories with him. He said he can still recall the hours leading up to each game. He noted that he would start to worry about making sure he had everything lined up and ready to go and that he knew the order in which things would fall. Until the clock turned on and the game started. Then, all the nervousness faded away.
“Once the game started, that was the easy part,” said Volz.
He explained that once he quit coaching, announcing was his way of staying close to football. He said he loves the game, loves the kids and loves being around it all in the booth.
“It’s just a kind of family camaraderie up there,” said Volz about the coaches, administration and Todd McKenney, who all help in the booth.
That’s not how it has always been though. Volz said he can remember when the football field was not even where it is now. Before it moved to its current location, the Pheasants played ball in the southeast corner of the Turner County Fairgrounds camping spots parking lot.
“It was pretty much weeds and dirt. It was just awful,” said Volz with a laugh. “And we didn’t have good lighting.”
But, in the early 1970s, the field moved to its present location and when he started announcing in 1980, he was able to sit in the “Crow’s Nest” on the east side of the field to call the game. He said he had a decent sound system because the janitors always kept it in good working order.
As the years passed, and things changed, Volz said they went from hardly ever playing music while in the crow’s nest to now always having the ability to play music.
He explained that in the booth now, you have an on/off switch with a microphone or a switch with your foot, you have a more sophisticated score board and it is out of the wind and much warmer.
And although he only missed a handful of games through the years, the memories he has taken with him far outweigh anything he missed.
He laughed, recalling a tackle being made around the end and one of the Even boys taking the ball right out of his opponent’s hands before he was ever tackled.
“He headed north, running 50-60 yards for a Pheasant touchdown,” laughed Volz.
He recalled another game between Parker and Garretson years ago that wasn’t going well for Parker and Volz said that Garretson was ahead 45-0 and would not take their starters out as the clock ticked down. He recalled their top running back taking off down the sidelines early in the third quarter before being tackled and tearing his ACL.
He noted that the 2006 season was an enjoyable one for the entire Parker community.
“That is probably an outstanding one and we went on to win the state championship,” said Volz.
“It was so much fun and it was fun to be a part of,” said Volz about the team who was coached by Bill Leberman and Mike Jorgensen.
Volz said though he doesn’t regret his decision to retire.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to have done this for all these years,” he said.
This season, although there are some new faces, plenty of the old faces are still there. Hoover, who is retired, and was Volz’s spotter for 34 years is not in Parker any more but Bob Sattler has spotted for Volz for the past five is still spotting and Roger Deutsch, who has ran the clock for several years is still in the booth too. This year, the announcer for the Pheasants football team has been Superintendent Donavan DeBoer. And McKenney is still helping make sure things run smoothly.
“Todd is part of the team up there. He can fix anything. He is so valuable wherever he is,” concluded Volz.