Mike Martinez of Hannah’s Hope of Portage, is getting pumped about spending another Portage High School Football season as the head announcer and commentator inside the field’s press box.
He started the gig about seven years ago and prior to that he was at the games managing the game clock for four years, he said.
Though not a football player himself, (basketball instead) he has always had the ins and outs of the game down. Plus, as a natural public speaker, he is in the right place every Friday night.
“Public speaking is second nature. So, when the high school asked, I said that I would love to,” he said. “It really is a small way to stay involved with the Portage community.”
So, it is game night.
The spectators are grabbing seats and the players are warming up. The cheerleaders are gathering up pompoms, and the band is shuffling their music sheets.
Martinez is preparing for the pre-game announcements, thanking sponsors, and welcoming all to the field.
“In terms of what I do, it is pretty simple…say what you see!” he said. “There are a few obligatory things that must get done, but as for the game itself, I just sit back and let the players play each play and then announce what happened.”
It may take a few games, but Martinez gets good fast when it comes to matching jersey numbers to players.
“I will recognize who made a tackle, catch, run, etc..” he said. “I get to know a few of the players, but for the most part I tie each player to their jersey number. Basketball is a little easier with only 12 players. With upwards of 90 players on a football roster, it’s hard to memorize everyone.”
Watching the local high school football game is a tradition that goes back years and years, and can be enjoyed through television shows like Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side.
For the Martinez family, we find the same thing.
Martinez enjoys being able to stay in touch with the community and loves getting to know the fans, parents, and the students and players. The conversations he has with people outside the game are always fun too, since he can relay the game’s results to someone who missed it the night before.
But his favorite part of this hobby is the tradition.
“The thing I enjoy maybe the most is that up until three years ago, Friday night for me was a family night. My dad operated the scoreboard, until he passed away in September of 2014. He worked PHS football games for over 25 years. He also taught in the Portage school system for over 40 years. When I moved over for the game clock operator to announcing, my brother took my spot on the clock. So, I knew that every home Portage football game was three hours of great times with my dad and my brother. It never seemed like work when the three of us were up in the press box together.”
A football season is pretty long, and Martinez has already been in the press box for a scrimmage this year. Yet, the commitment for every game night being booked does not faze him one bit. He is happy to be helping the Athletic Department keep one thing off their plate for the season, which they appreciate as well, according to PHS AD Kelly Bermes.
“Mike has been a fixture at Portage High School as the ‘Voice of the Indians,’” Bermes said. “He is a true professional who gives unselfishly his time and talents. He is a true Portage alumnus who gives back to the kids of Portage. We truly appreciate all he does."
So, head out to the field this season for a great game of high school football. With people like Martinez there, it shows why a Friday night football game is much more than a game. It is an event of tradition, community support, and Indian pride!
Yet... if you’re not a football fan, you can also find Martinez at PHS basketball games, where Martinez has been announcing for both the boys and girls programs for the last several years!