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Last week, I mentioned a number of teachers that had an impact on me, especially as an educator. There’s one more who influenced that job and another, that of announcer for Panther varsity events. As we begin the winter sports season, my busiest behind the microphone, it’s appropriate to look at the importance of my Oral Interpretation class at Winona State, taught by Vivian Fusillo.

Vivian was and is a dynamic personality. Her class was a mixture of education and theater majors. The purpose of the class? We had to learn to read with vigor and learn how to change our voices to fit our speaking. There was probably no other class in college that better set me on the path I walk than that one.

Vivian drove her students. We weren’t done with a project until she was satisfied we couldn’t do it any better. She would make you stand in front of the class and redo something until you reached that point. She was a true example of making sure every student reached his or her fullest potential.

This class gave me free reign to be as crazy as I wanted. I had been gregarious before, but Oral Interp opened me up to be free of worry about what others thought. For my final exam, I chose the theme of Spider-Man and “performed” three different pieces of written work about the wall-crawler. I read from a comic, read a poem, and read/sang the old theme song from his cartoon show. As I did this, I donned a Spider-Man mask and leapt from desktop to desktop.

Vivian’s class was my absolute favorite in college, and I quickly realized how important it would be to me at NRHEG. I love reading to my classes and adding touches that I learned how to do in that class.

A bigger stage was waiting though. Former AD, Ted Pelzl, happened to ask me during my first year if I could step in and announce a couple of playoff basketball games we were hosting in NR. None of the teams were from here; we were a neutral site. I asked why he would ask me, and Ted was honest in saying that he just really needed somebody and didn’t know who else to ask.

I hesitated before accepting. Fate does funny things sometimes. What if I had not happened to run into Ted that day? What if I would have said no? I actually considered that answer. Me announce? In front of hundreds of strangers? What would I say?

After I finally said yes, I thought again back to my WSU days. Not only did I think back to Vivian’s class, but I thought about the WSU announcer, Brice Wilkenson. Brice was a crazy man at the microphone. He really got into the starting lineups and was beyond excited for big plays. Ted gave me some basic directions to follow, and then I added in some of the things I heard Brice say at Warriors’ games.

And the rest is history. Before then, we didn’t have play by play at basketball games too often. I started to do that when I could and helped out with football games occasionally when Chuck Crabtree couldn’t make it. Now I make it to every game I conceivably can and love every minute of it, whether the home team wins or loses.

I continue to strive to refine my work and get better, but most of my best stuff is off the top of my head. I love to be the Voice of the Panthers!

By the time you read this, the boys’ basketball team will have played already, and the girls’ home opener is now Dec. 5 – today! Come and watch both teams as well as our wrestlers throughout the season – it’s money well spent, and it should be another exciting winter sports season! Thank you for your kind attention, and please read the rest of the paper safely!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is amaranthine, which means unfading or everlasting, as in, “The announcer’s amaranthine dedication to the home team was evident in his boisterous support.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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