It is Stagg Bowl weekend in Salem, Virginia. The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl is NCAA Division-III football’s national championship and is traditionally played between Mount Union and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Well, those two teams battled in the semi-finals with Mount Union taking the victory and the trip to Salem to face another familiar foe
It is Stagg Bowl weekend in Salem, Virginia. The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl is NCAA Division-III football’s national championship and is traditionally played between Mount Union and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Well, those two teams battled in the semi-finals with Mount Union taking the victory and the trip to Salem to face another familiar foe in St. Thomas.
My role during the Stagg Bowl is that of Game Director, coordinating the music, P. A. Announcer, video board, video board audio, referee microphone, sound system, bands, dance teams and just about everything else people see inside the stadium. There is a lot to worry about, but it’s fun and you get to see a great football game at the same time.
This will be my third year working in this role next to P. A. announcer Doug Ripley who has been the voice of this game for over a decade. He actually writes the script and itinerary with input from me and past games experiences. It’s fun to work with Doug who can now concentrate on the game itself, rather than all the ancillary elements of the game.
The City of Salem does a tremendous job adding additional elements, such as a tunnel the teams run out of, fireworks, CO2 blasts, a video board, additional sound support, and basically turning a high school football stadium into a full-blown event. Without their support, this game would not be what it is today.
I leave my house in the DC area and hit the road on one of my least favorite trips, Interstates 66 and 81. I’m not much a fan of the entire trip, but I trudge through knowing that the oasis that is Salem is just under four hours away. The trip is uneventful, except for the rain until I hit 81. It was not the worst trip I’ve taken down this way, that would go to last year with the last 100 miles in the snow. But this trip gave some pretty awesome views of the sun peaking its way through the clouds. It’s not easy to take a picture while driving, so I didn’t get one of those.
Once in Salem, it’s to the hotel to relax a little, change, and then head up to the Salem Civic Center which is adjacent to the football stadium. The Civic Center is host to the annual banquet which is attended by both teams and hundreds of supporters from each school. The dinner is always excellent and accompanied by music by a live band. After dinner, the show consists of videos, presentations and speeches. Doug will introduce each team’s starting line-ups toward the end.
The Civic Center is transformed into a quaint banquet space. The City of Salem really does a fantastic job of transforming the cavernous facility into a banquet space that kind of gives the feel of the “Enchantment Under the Sea Dance” from Back to the Future, according to one attendee.
During the banquet, several VIPs are called to the stage including reigning Miss Virginia Savannah Lane who has an uncle that played for Mount Union in the late 80’s or early 90’s. She wasn’t quite sure the years.
The Mayor of the City of Salem, the Honorable Randy Foley also speaks. Foley was a member of the 1990 University of Virginia football team that was ranked as the top team in the nation for a few weeks.
Mike Stevens, the Communications Director for the City of Salem, serves as the emcee and keeps the show moving along. Whether it is inviting a member of Special Olympics Virginia to the stage to recite their pledge, or bringing a student representative to the stage for a brief speech, Stevens does a great job making sure people don’t get bored and start stirring.
Carey Harveycutter, the Game Manager, and our vote for Mr. Salem for all that he has done for the city and the Roanoke Valley over the years, also makes a couple of speeches.
This is what you don’t see on TV, all of this set-up leading to the big game. The 2015 Division-III National Champion was sitting in the Civic Center, but we’ll find out exactly who they are in less than 20 hours.
After the banquet, the work isn’t done for the night, as I meet with Doug and Tim Harris, the video board director for the game to go over the run of show from start to end. Our job is to review all the videos for the content of the audio. My goal is to not repeat songs so we listen to everything that has music associated with it and make a list. The list is pretty long and includes some songs that I might’ve used, but won’t now. We go over the game plan for the game, the various rules we need to pay attention to in regards to replays and a few more details. We won’t have a live camera with us this year, so we had to make some adjustments to fill with content, while allowing the band from Mount Union to play during timeouts.
Now that the meeting is over, it’s finally time to relax, and get ready for tomorrow which is going to include a morning trip to Blacksburg for a commencement ceremony for a friend. Good night from Salem, Virginia’s Championship City. I’ll try to post more tomorrow throughout the day.