This month’s Unsung Hero is Troy Simpson.
Simpson, a science teacher at GRS school in Watseka, has provided his voice to local school sporting events for more than two decades. Simpson began his announcing career before ever even becoming a teacher back in 1996 when he was asked to announce a high school basketball game.
“Back then, I would usually do the book or timing but one night they didn’t have someone to announce the game, so I did the starting line ups and that’s kind of where it all began,” Simpson said.
“I was in grad school at the time and working on my teaching degree. I was just trying to make a couple of extra dollars but it must of went well because I’ve done almost every game since then.”
It wasn’t until 2001 that Simpson took over providing his voice from the press box for football games, following in the footsteps of John Dowling.
“I learned a lot from him and often he and I would talk about different games and tournaments we were a part of. It was an honor for me to have him fill in on the few occasions I wasn’t able to be in the press box,” he said.
“In fact, he was in the press box the night my daughter Sophie was born and it was neat to hear how he announced to the football crowd why I wasn’t there that evening.”
One thing that keeps Simpson coming back is not just for the love of the game, but the unique perspective it provides.
“I see both teams up there. I have a Watseka bent of course, but it’s fun watching the athletes on both sides. The bias that you might have when you are a fan is out the window and you see things as they really appear.”
As a teacher as well, Simpson has come to appreciate watching the students he has taught in class become successful athletes on the field.
“It’s amazing to watch the kids grow up and be successful in athletics. The kids always ask me ‘are you going to announce when I’m in high school’ and I always say ‘yes, if they still want me to’.”
Simpson is also currently the high school girl’s track coach alongside Rich Dickte, who manages the boys team.
“I was coach Dickte’s assistant for ten years before I took over the girls coaching position,” he said.
“I wasn’t really ever planning to be a head coach but coach Dickte and coach (Rick) Odgers pushed me to go for it and this is now my 15th year as a head coach.”
Simpson said he has no plans to slow down or quit either position anytime soon.
“It’s fun to be a part of. Watching a fantastic football game or basketball game, or maybe we have a good track season, and knowing that you are a part of that, it’s kind of amazing to have an association with that. And, I get in for free.”