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Voice of the Princeton Panthers

Joe Gilliam uses binoculars to see the plays up close to get accurate roster names.

Joe Gillam still has the original football game program he was given to announce his first matchup for the Panthers at Jackie Hendricks Stadium.

The local sports broadcaster uses it as the cover for his team roster notebook for every game he announces in Princeton. Although the 2013 program cover stays the same, he changes out the team rosters each year. 

The voice of the Panthers is in his ninth year in Princeton, but he got his start as a game announcer in his hometown of Quanah, Texas.

“There was a small, local radio station in town,” Mr. Gilliam said. “I started out doing the color commentary, then I did the play-by-play.”

The radio broadcast would be used as the audio when the game was replayed on the cable television station.

His tenure with the Princeton Panthers began in the fall of 2013, and he’s been the voice of the Panthers ever since.

Although he doesn’t trash talk the opponent, he does give the Panthers plenty of kudos when he’s announcing.

“When I first took on the announcing job, I asked (Athletic Director) Coach Stacey Dillard if I needed to be monotone and neutral,” Mr. Gilliam said. “He gave me the go-ahead to show a little emotion with my voice. I’m not going to say anything bad about the opponent, but I’m sure going to use the opportunity to lift our players up.”

And look out if you commit an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Panthers.

“I won’t say that kid’s name for a few plays after that,” he said.

Mr. Gilliam says he enjoys his role as the announcer and watching the game.

“I’ve got to watch a lot of good football over the years,” he said. “I’ve seen players who’ve got to go on to play at the next level. I’ve also seen some of the players come back here to coach. I know they probably don’t recognize me, because they’ve only heard my voice, but when I see a player I’ve announced for years, I always think we have a connection that they don’t even realize. I was part of their football experience.”

With Mr. Gilliam’s trademark phrase, “That’s another Princeton Panther first down,” his favorite aspect of broadcasting is creating an atmosphere that encourages fan participation.

Joe Gilliam checks the opposing team's roster for player names for the play-by-play announcing.

“Varsity games are fun because of the crowd interactions,” Mr. Gilliam said. “I like being there and being part of the atmosphere that gets the crowd into the game.”

In his years of broadcasting, Mr. Gilliam can only recall one instance where he’s truly messed up as an announcer.

“I accidentally gave some coaching advice when my mic wasn’t turned off,” he said. “The other team had a player who’d been running back our kick-offs all night, but we kicked to him again. I said, ‘I wouldn’t have kicked to him.’ That’s the only time I think I’ve said something when I didn’t realize my mic was on.”

In addition to game broadcasting, he uses his voice for all kinds of hobbies, including his amateur auctioneering skills.

“When I was in college, I would do all the fund-raising benefits hosted by the fraternities and sororities,” said Mr. Gilliam, who attended college at Tarleton State University. “I kinda just taught myself how to be an auctioneer. I had a few pointers from a friend who was doing it. I picked it up pretty quickly, but I’ve never been paid to do a single auction.”

Mr. Gilliam uses his auctioneering skills to give back to the community, including serving as the auctioneer for the annual Onion Festival live auction.

“I would practice my auctioneering skills by using the powerline poles going down the road as they approached,” he said. “And there were a lot of poles on the long drive from Tarleton to Quanah.”

As Mr. Gilliam focuses on his Friday night gig, he wants the Panthers to experience success.

“For the first few seasons I was here, the Panthers didn’t lose a home game,” he said. “I thought as the voice of the Panthers, I must’ve been a good luck charm. And with the culture I’m seeing now, I think we are headed that direction again.”