GREER ─ Unless it has made you mad, you likely don’t think about the press box much.
And that’s how the volunteers would have it — their work just flows into the Friday night experience — but sometimes things happen.
“We’re the ones getting hollered at, ‘Stop the clock! Stop the clock!’ ” said Phil Crain, who has been a clock operator at Greer High School football games for going on 20 years.
He ran both the 25-second clock and the main scoreboard by himself for a number of years, until Gary Vaughn retired as a referee and joined him in the press box.
“I knew I was going to be at the Greer games anyway,” said Vaughn, who like Crain is a graduate. “I volunteered to help out, and they haven’t run me off yet.”
Despite receiving the occasional burst of anger about stopping the clock, which Vaughn said is on the referees as he and Crain await the signal, they run a pretty tight operation.
“Not to say that we don’t make mistakes,” Crain said. “But we’ve been doing this together for many years.
Vaughn continued, “It’s something the coaches don’t have to worry about. They know it is taken care of.”
Doug Stringer is the public address a
nnouncer at Blue Ridge High School. A graduate, he said he got the call to volunteer 20 years ago, and that even amidst coaching changes at the school, they have continued to want him involved.
“The way I look at it: I’m not a cheerleader; I’m not a coach; I’m not a referee. People don’t come to the game to hear me,” he said. “Basically, I’m just there to do the announcements, and give credit to the players who make the big plays.”
Over at rival Greer High School, Chad Hannon was asked to do it four years ago because the previous announcer became a coach. As a member of Greer’s 1989 15-0 state championship team, Hannon was glad to lend his voice to the games.
“It’s my way of giving back to the community that has given so much to me over the years,” he said.
Like Stringer, he’s just there to do the announcements, although there is something he does special on a Greer first down.
“When it happens, I let the crowd yell out ‘first down’ first, then I say it,” Hannon said.
Both Stringer and Hannon involve their family as part of their operation. For Hannon, his father Keith Hannon and brother in law Brent Rhymer are his spotters. Spotting for Stringer is his son in law Jon Bowers.
“Without him, it would be very difficult to do my job,” Stringer said.
Like in the clock operator box, things happen.
“It’s usually our fault,” Keith Hannon said with a laugh.
Chad Hannon laughed, as well, “Sometimes they give me the wrong number, and so I say the wrong name. The parents will let me know real fast.”
Mistakes are not al
ways on the spotters. During the playoff game against Travelers Rest, he looked at his phone after messing up a player’s name after announcing the lineups before the game.
“I’ll be getting an angry text soon,” Hannon said.
“For the starting lineups, you learn to read phonetically, but that doesn’t always work,” Stringer added, also noting that he tries to get the visiting list early and will ask if a name looks like it will give him trouble. “You try to keep the mothers happy.”
But messing up the occasional name can be forgiven, especially when you do everything else right.
“I go to other games, and the announcers think they are supposed to be the No. 1 cheerleader,” Stringer said, adding that once he even heard an announcer act like a coach. “I heard an announcer warn the players on the other team to watch for the fake punt. The fans get insulted. I’ve had people thank me because I’m not biased.”
Making sure things smoothly and giving back to the alma mater is what life in the press box is all about.
“I’ve been involved in Greer all of my life — I was born and raised,” Crain said.
Vaughn added, “That’s one good thing about Greer. Many of the graduates do a lot to help out at the school.
“All around the game on Friday night, there’s a lot to do. The volunteers help the coaches focus on what’s important — the kids.”