By Troy Bloomquist
Many Ole Miss fans recognize the words “FIRST DOWN!!!” when they are said over the speakers in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and respond with “Oleeee Miss.” However, many do not know the man behind those words.
He is Glen Waddle, the public address announcer for Ole Miss football in the Vaught, and also at Swayze Field, the home of Ole Miss baseball.
Waddle started his public address career in 1982 working for the Jackson Touchdown Club doing the Mississippi High School All-Star Game.
“I was sitting in the stands listening to the PA announcer and said ‘You know what? I think I can do better,’” Waddle said.
Waddle had no prior experience in the field of PA announcing.
“I had no formal training and just did it,” Waddle said.
Being a PA announcer seems like a very enjoyable job if you love sports. For Waddle, the most enjoyable part of his job “is being able to work the games,” he said.
Waddle, an Ole Miss alumnus and a graduate of the Ole Miss School of Law, began working the games in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in 1997.
“It is a privilege to be a PA announcer because there are only 14 football PA announcers in the Southeastern Conference and 130 D1 football announcers,” he said.
Most people on the outside might think all the public address announcer has to do is say first down, touchdown, and players’ names. However, a lot more than that goes on behind the scenes.
On a typical game day at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Waddle said, “I get to the ballpark three to four hours before game time and go over all of the pronunciations and highlight the offensive players on the flip card.”
Waddle does get some help from a spotter, “who takes care of the defense and sees who makes the tackle, but I have to spot the offense,” Waddle said.
If Waddle’s job was not already hard enough, it got even harder this football season.
“My spotter has opted out of this season due to the coronavirus, so I will have to spot both this season,” he said.
Although this job comes with many challenges, it also comes with some perks. Being able to see many historic games played in front of your eyes definitely pays off. Waddle stated some of his most memorable moments at Vaught-Hemingway came “when we of course beat Mississippi State anytime, along with the time we beat Alabama at home and tore down the goal post.”
Surprisingly, Waddle said the most memorable moments he’s experienced were on the road working with the Ole Miss radio network team.
Waddle said that most of the games at home, “kind of meld together. I pour a lot into it and make sure everything goes correctly.”
This year is a lot different in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium due to the pandemic. Only 25% capacity is allowed, so the stadium feels a lot different. But having only a 25% capacity in the stadium will not change Waddle’s job at all.
“If you do something people like, they will respond even if there are two people in the stadium,” Waddle said.
The smaller capacity has also not affected Waddle because “having worked all the spring games since 1988” he is familiar with the stadium when there are smaller crowds, he said.
Being such a competitive profession and a hard one to break into, I asked for one piece of advice for those wanting to become a public address announcer.
“Do not treat public address announcing as if you are a play by play announcer,” Waddle said. “Your job is to give pertinent facts to the fans in the stands.”
Like his famous four words – “FIRST DOWN! Oleeeee Miss!”