Football and basketball games are staples of Burlingame culture. At the peak of the fall and winter sports seasons, a student’s typical Friday night usually consists of cheering on the players and following the games. Many different groups from the Burlingame community, come together to ensure the success of these games, another essential component to the game who may go unnoticed by many students is announcer John Horgan, who has announced at BHS games for the past 35 years.
Horgan announces varsity football games in the fall and boys’ varsity basketball games in the winter season, occasionally announcing for the girls’ varsity basketball team as well. As an announcer, he understands the importance of relaying the correct information to the spectators and prepares thoroughly before each game to ensure that he is announcing accurately. In fact, he has a routine to get ready for the games.
“I always print out the rosters a day before the game and underline names that may be difficult to pronounce,” Horgan said. “I try to get to the gymnasium or football field at least forty-five minutes or an hour early so I can talk to the coaches about the correct pronunciation of names, the players’ numbers and any new additions to the team that I might not know about.”
Horgan outlined what makes a good announcer.
“You need a good voice and you need to have confidence,” Horgan explained. “You also need to know the game really well.”
Horgan also explained that announcing teaches people more than stats of a game or how to pronounce players’ names. In fact, he said that many schools prefer students to announce to the games because it teaches them confidence and eloquence. Horgan’s own experience as an announcer started when he was a junior at Serra High School where he played on the basketball team, but also announced at the football games.
“It was a good learning experience; it’s really just public speaking,” Horgan said.
Although Horgan’s passion for announcing started when he was in high school, he didn’t start announcing BHS games until 1982, when he was coaching his own daughter’s basketball team. While he was coaching, he noticed that there was no announcer for the games and offered his experience to fill the vacancy. He volunteered his time in hopes of creating a more legitimate environment for the team.
“Of course, in this day girls sports are huge,” Horgan said. “But back in those days, girls sports were just becoming routine. I don’t think anyone had even thought about announcing for those girls, but I thought it’d be a good idea to formalize the games. It gave more credibility to the game-- it seemed a little more professional.”
Looking back, Horgan was glad that he volunteered his time to announce and contribute to the changing attitudes on girls sports. Horgan’s experience proves that it takes simple measures, like volunteering at his daughter’s games, to take steps towards a bigger change.
“Like I said before, most girls teams did not have an announcer,” Horgan said. “So when other girls teams-- like from Carlmont, or San Mateo, or Cappuccino-- came to Burlingame for a girls game and there was an announcer. That was a big deal for them. The girls got their names introduced and their plays recognized. I think it helped these girls feel a little more important. By the time my daughter graduated, the girls teams were becoming a big deal.”
Horgan’s role and enthusiasm as an announcer has evolved since he began announcing for his daughter’s games. He continues to announce 35 years later to encourage sportsmanship and matches on high school teams.
“I like to see competition,” Horgan said, “where two teams that are evenly matched are playing against each other, and it’s a fair fight. I like to see that struggle.”