Sports

The man with the Golden Eagle voice

He usually arrives to the games about 40 minutes early. After grabbing a bite to eat, he seeks out the head coaches of the visiting teams for their starting lineups.

“Everything is on a really tight schedule and you are tied to that game clock,” said 25-year-old Jonathan VerHoeven. “When that thing rings down to zero, everybody better be ready to play, and that means my stuff better be together before then.”

VerHoeven, who serves as the public address announcer for the John Brown University home basketball games said he is at the mercy of the clock when preparing all his notes for the game.

The 2006 JBU alumnus from Springdale, Ark., has grown up around college sports, especially basketball. He credits his love for the game due to the attending Lady Razorback games with his father playing the sport through out high school.

“Going to all those games, you get used to hearing the announcer, and I always thought it would be fun to do,” he added.

During his junior year he worked in the media relations’ department as part of the work-study program. When the men’s basketball team won the national championship in 2005, VerHoeven wrote a round-up article for the alumni magazine “The Brown Bulletin.”

Former athletic director Bob Burns asked if he would be interested in taking over the sports information director part-time while they looked for a full-time replacement his senior year. When the basketball announcer also graduated that year, VerHoeven asked if he could tack on public address announcing from inside the arena.

He shared the responsibilities of basketball announcer with JBU alumnus Malachi Crane and would usually announce the women’s basketball games before running back to his office to write a press release.

When the University hired Simeon Hinsey as full-time sports information director in 2006, VerHoeven relinquished most of his responsibilities but kept his position as basketball announcer.

The transition to announcer went more smoothly than VerHoeven predicted. He said he fit right into it, which was ironic because he is not particularly inclined to public speaking.

“I’m not the most likely person to get out on a stage with a microphone and talk to hundreds of people,” he explained. “And with the exception of sitting behind a scores table and not having everyone look at you, that is essentially what announcing a basketball game is.”

Though the transition was smooth, one technical difficulty that stood out to VerHoeven was the 2009 toilet paper game. After a player dunked the ball on the first play of the game, the crowd was so loud that the noise was feeding back into his mike.

“I started to yell his name, and I was immediately squashed out by this screeching feedback,” he said with a laugh.

Despite the difficulties, it is being in the middle of the action that keeps VerHoeven coming back every home game.

Currently, VerHoeven is now an author who works full-time in Christian ministry in Fayetteville but occasionally makes trips up to campus to catch and sometimes announce the games.

Head men’s basketball coach Clark Sheehy has known VerHoeven for years and said he was and still continues to play a big part in what the teams do and women’s head coach Jeff Soderquist said VerHoeven has the best voice in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

“The thing that makes him special is he is a true fan,” Sheehy said. “He loves JBU sports so I think he takes pride in what he does and does it very well.”

But how long does this true fan plan on sticking around and announcing games?

“I will do it as long as they let me,” he said. “I absolutely love it.”