Roger Grossman paid a wonderful tribute to Warsaw Community High School’s sports public address announcer, Ron Henry, in last Wednesday’s “Penalty Box.” I’m compelled to touch on some additional points folks don’t think about when an inimitable figure ends a 40-year span among multiple sports, let alone a single sport.

The most amazing thing about Henry’s 40-years among Warsaw Tiger football, basketball, and baseball is his commitment.

Think for a moment, the commitment he made to the community. The talent and professionalism are impressive too, but the commitment is unparalleled, especially when we think of what we do within our own lives.

Imagine if somewhere in your early forties – because this was Henry’s age when he joined the Warsaw athletic department for PA announcing - you committed to all three sports seasons to announce for a school’s athletic teams. What does this commitment require from you?

The forties are the decade for adults where the disposable income takes at least a bump or two upward, your social calendar, and your available choices for leisure and recharging the battery become far greater than when you were climbing the ladder in your twenties and your thirties. The numerous choices range far beyond the scope of high school athletics.

You have options, baby!

During football and basketball season, almost all of Henry’s Friday nights from mid-August through mid-March (when Warsaw hosted post-season basketball action), and numerous Saturday nights to boot, meant there were no cocktail parties, no movie theatre outings, and no dinners with friends and family for 40 years when the Tigers were scheduled for home football and basketball games.

I believe Henry still cultivated numerous memorable relationships throughout these years.

This is testimony not only to his level of commitment, but to how much he loved what he did for Warsaw Tiger athletic programs.

Many gainfully employed people have full social calendars, and their weekends are booked solid with social and recreational activities. If these people have children in scholastic extracurricular activities, they sometimes switch gears, and adjust their calendars to suit their kids’ interests and schedules.

They’re very visible on the sports community radar during this span of time, but when they no longer have a dog in the fight, they tend to return to their previous social patterns.

This is perfectly O.K., and it’s a natural course.

Henry, on the other hand, has a son-in-law coaching in the Tiger basketball program, and his granddaughter recently played varsity basketball (and now plays college basketball). Fans, however, should take a closer look to reflect upon and appreciate how many years (many more in fact) Henry did not have a familial reason to be in the Tiger Den, nor at either Fisher Field facilities.

Frankly, could you tell the difference between when he did or did not have familial ties based on the top-flight quality of his announcing performance?

I couldn’t tell the difference because Henry was committed, and he loved what he did.

I’ve been attending Tiger sporting events – sporadically in the early years – since my wife joined the district as a middle school teacher in the fall of 1997. She moved on to administrator and educator roles in other school systems since leaving Edgewood in 2008, but my interest in Tiger sports continually endures through today.

I began PA announcing for Edgewood Middle School and Warsaw’s sub-varsity football teams in the fall of 2014. I observed the middle school’s athletic director trying to function as the football PA announcer and managing two other sporting events while working his walkie talkie brick. I felt like, thanks to my self-awareness, I would be much less trouble in the press box than I would be in the stands. I solicited my services after that 2014 Edgewood home opener, and I am now the PA announcer for Warsaw Tiger football. The 2021 varsity gridiron season was my first, and it will be far from my last.

It's not a job. It’s a privilege.

Here’s my current PA announcing scope:

Varsity football, varsity girls’ soccer, varsity wrestling, varsity softball, and sub-varsity football.

I’ve also augmented in track and field, varsity boys’ soccer, and baseball.

The biggest instant rush I recently felt through my entire body was subbing for Henry for three basketball games this season: two girls’ games and one boys’ game. I hadn’t been a basketball PA announcer since 1998.

I’m comfortable telling you I’m charming enough to be a social animal, but I would rather be announcing a sporting event and socializing within those boundaries than attending any other social event most Fridays and Saturdays. The joys of familial experiences, and the occasional escape through listening to numerous genres of music are the only things I love more than PA announcing.

Palm Springs, California is the only place I’ve ever considered living permanently outside the Midwest in my entire life, but I can’t afford to retire there, so you’re stuck with me. Can I even afford to retire anyway?

I don’t have Ron’s beautiful, deep voice. I still have my Inland Northern dialect (it’s official name, I guess). It’s unlikely I’ll live to Henry’s current age based on life expectancies among folks who’ve expired in my gene pool. My estimated expiration date is age 75, 17 more years according to my Ohio math.

Madonna mia! The previous paragraph just hammered home how remarkable 40 years of service is. I hope you readers appreciate it, too.

Henry is leaving an indelible mark on Warsaw Tiger sports. If I earn the privilege to replace him in basketball, too, my desired takeaway is not to be the “voice of the Tigers.” There’s only room for one of those in this town.

I want my takeaway, instead, to perform well enough to make Warsaw athletics an attractive post-season tournament venue among numerous sports, and to continue the levels of commitment and love for PA announcing the one true “voice of the Tigers” has given the fans, friends, and families of Warsaw athletics for decades.

Oh Henry! Thanks for your amazing level of commitment!