Monday, February 21, 2005
When Norm Davis took the microphone as the public address announcer for East Tennessee State University athletic events, it was a dream job for the longtime Buccaneer fan. It was also 1963.
For five decades, fans of East Tennessee State University have heard a familiar voice introduce their favorite Buccaneer players and keep them informed during games. Whenever the Buccaneers have taken to the field or the hardwood, Davis has been the voice that all ETSU fans have heard.
"I started because I loved broadcasting and would always help setup the sound system at the games," said Davis, who has announced ETSU games for exactly 40 seasons. "I was a fan and enjoyed the games. My interest in following the university and its programs was always there."
Davis, who did take a two-year break away from his announcing duties in the 1970s, spent his working career as a teacher and an administrator in the Washington County and Johnson City school systems, while also working at ETSU and on the staff at University School. He earned four degrees at ETSU, including degrees in History, Speech, Government and Educational Administration.
As public address announcer for the Buccaneers, Davis has primarily worked basketball and football games, where fans would hear his voice booming across Gentry Field, or echoing inside Brooks Gym and Memorial Center . However, he has not always provided his services at what one would consider traditional events.
"I actually announced a track meet once when we hosted Notre Dame," said Davis. "We had a great sprinter at that time named Robert Rovere and he beat everyone on the track that day."
As for the sports where fans would most recognize Davis' voice, he has several fantastic memories of watching the Bucs play. For instance, the 1969 Grantland Rice Bowl champions, who finished their football season undefeated, and the four-straight Southern Conference championship teams in men's basketball from 1989 to 1992 are among some of Davis' most treasured memories.
"The two big years in football (1969 and 1996) were a lot of fun," Davis said. "And winning all those championships during the Les Robinson years was amazing. Watching guys like Keith "Mister" Jennings, Greg Dennis and Calvin Talford was unbelievable."
And even with all the history he has seen on the field, Davis has watched the culture change as well. In the mid 1960s, he remembers watching Tommy Woods break the color barrier in ETSU athletics and become a crowd favorite.
"Tommy was just another player out there from what I could tell," Davis said. "He was an instant hit and the fans loved the way he could jump. For younger fans, watching Tommy Woods jump was a lot like watching Calvin Talford. They both were similar players."
To work in any position for 40 years is commendable, and for Davis, the job as the "public voice" of ETSU athletics has been about a love of the Buccaneers more than anything else. In fact, Davis only missed one football game in all his years as public address announcer - and that was because of a schedule change to accommodate television during the 2002 season.
"That was the only game I missed and it was because I had scheduled a bus trip to New England with my wife," Davis said. "I had scheduled the trip so that it did not interfere with the game, but then they moved the day of the game because of TV. I never wanted to miss a game because I just loved being there. I haven't missed one since."
By MICHAEL WHITE
ETSU Media Relations