Pat Black, Voice of the OPS Indians

Known as the "Voice of the Indians," Pat Black has been the public address announcer for Orangeburg Prep football home games for the past 21 years.

CHRISTOPHER HUFF, T&D

“Football fans, welcome to Orangeburg and the Indian Field!”

“Here come the Indians!”

The distinctive, booming voice of Pat Black has welcomed fans to Orangeburg Prep’s home games for the last 21 years. Known as the “Voice of the Indians,” Black even has a reserved parking space at the stadium.

“We started in the fall of ’97, and it’s just been going on ever since,” he said.

Black said that back then, the previous announcer, Charlie Fender, had passed away, and the school was managing with assistant coaches announcing.

But “any assistant coach worth his salt wants to be on the field or up on top (of the press box),” Black said.

So Black, whose two daughters were attending Orangeburg Preparatory Schools at the time, approached then-head coach Don Shelley about announcing.

“I said, ‘Don, I’ll help you out. Here’s the deal. Let me do it for two games, and if I like it, I’ll tell you we want to continue on doing it. If I don’t, we’ll stop,’” he said. “If you don’t like what you hear and you tell me, no problem and that’s it.”

After the first couple of games, things were going well. Black’s knowledge of the game and his voice helped him.

“I am blessed with a good voice, a strong voice. I guess you’d call it a booming voice,” he said.

Shelley was pleased with the job Black was doing.

“After a couple games, I think he needed ‘somebody’ more than he needed me, but he said, ‘Yeah, continue on with it,’” Black chuckled.

“And it just led from one year on to the next,” he said.

After his daughters graduated, the school asked Black to stay on “and it’s worked out,” he said.

He holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, both from Clemson University, and is a big Tiger football fan. So he’s thankful that the OPS football schedule works out so he can attend Clemson football games on Saturdays.

“It works out pretty good, and I enjoy doing it,” he said, adding that he’ll keep announcing as long as OPS and the South Carolina Independent School Association will let him.

His involvement goes beyond enjoying the job.

“High school athletics serves a very important function in the development of our young people,” he said.

Black said he enjoys contributing to the game and the school and “helping the kids out.”

Orangeburg Prep Athletic Director Jan Stoudenmire said that the school “is very lucky to have such an experienced, dedicated, classy person willing to be the voice of the Indians. He has always been so willing to help with anything we have at Orangeburg Prep.

“His voice is so distinct and professional, and everywhere we go people talk about Mr. Pat Black being the voice of the Indians. As an athletic director, he is a pleasure to have working with us, and he is someone I can count on. That's one less thing on game day I have to worry about.”

Stoudenmire said that she and Black have known one another for many years. She coached his two daughters, Eleanor and Mary Paige, in basketball.

“Personally I can't imagine anyone else ever taking his place as the ‘Voice of the Indians,’” she said.

Preparation is a key to being a good announcer, Black said. He makes sure he knows how to properly pronounce the names of the players and coaches.

“There is a preparation to it. You don’t just go to the press box and pick up the microphone and start talking,” he said.

For example, he works on the script for special events like senior night and homecoming.

“They’re landmark events in the life of a high school student, and you want them to stand out,” he said.

And it’s important to the parents as well, he said.

“The faces change in the stands, but the people are the same. They still want to know about their kid ... and they want to hear their name called,” Black said. “And they deserve to have their name called.”

He said he keeps going because “it’s an opportunity to give back and help kids along.”

Black is also the announcer for the SCISA statewide championship games and tournaments.

SCISA Athletic Director Mike Fanning said, “Pat has worked our football state championships and football all-star games, our weeklong basketball tournament and Championship Saturday. ... He has been the voice at state volleyball matches, track meets and soccer games.”

“He brings a passion and a knowledge of the game to each activity,” he said. “And he brings a high level of professionalism.”

Black’s best moments are seeing the Indians win.

“That’s a festive mood then. They play a different kind of music when you win than when you lose,” he laughed.

But the real payoff is “just seeing those kids develop from a little B-team person who’s getting their first taste of competition and then six years later, they’ve got senior night.”

Black recalled a past senior night game where a senior athlete who hadn’t gotten much playing time went in and made a big defensive play.

“The only interception he ever had,” Black said. “We kind of made a big deal out of that.”

“And to this day, whenever his mother sees me, she says, ‘I remember you giving him credit and recognition for that,’” he said.

Black said that his worst experiences are seeing examples of poor sportsmanship. Earlier in the season, a player from each side was ejected after getting into a scuffle, he said.

He has an obligation to announce such incidents, he said, but he never calls out the players’ names, only referring to them by their jersey numbers.

“You never want to embarrass a player or his family,” he said. “But still, you have to report that. ... That’s a fact of the game that fans need to know.”

An Orangeburg native who now lives in Cameron, Black is chairman of the Calhoun County Development Commission. He’s served on the commission since the 1980s.

“We’ve had success in Calhoun County. We’re proud of what we’ve done, extremely proud of what we’ve done as a small rural county in South Carolina,” he said.

“Calhoun County has something to offer. We’re attractive to industry, and they’ve responded to it,” he said. “Job opportunities, building on the tax base, creating wealth, increasing the per capita income for our citizens in Calhoun County – that’s what we’re all about.”

He worked for 25 years at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, finishing up as vice president of academic affairs and students services, he said.

He recently retired from teaching agriculture and horticulture at Branchville High School, where he said he exposed students “to things they’d never seen before.”

“We had students who never even considered going to colleges explore, find out ‘Hey, there’s an opportunity for me there,’ and go on and follow through with it,” he said.

He is now teaching an economics course at Claflin University.

“Somebody told me one time, ‘If you want to get old, try to keep up with young people. If you want to stay young, just be around them.’”

He is also proud to mention that he’s a member of the Clemson University Board of Visitors and the Agricultural Alumni Board.

He and his wife Kathy have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Contact the writer: chuff@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5543.

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