Peter Taylor announces own grade at North Carolina nationals

Peter Taylor shares his masters nationals experience in his latest diary (see an earlier one) of a meet announcer. He writes: “I took almost no notes, but I do remember some things about the nationals in Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s fourth-largest city. I didn’t compete in any events, however, and thus I’m hoping that some athletes will supply their own recollections.” Near the end, Peter the Perfectionist says: “Overall I had a very poor meet, partly my fault. I was so bothered by the inadequate sound that I changed my announcing style, uncertain whether people could hear me adequately.” Yes, his voice didn’t carry as far as it should have. But those on the track and in the stands beneath him got full Taylor effect. And we are always grateful for introductions that go far beyond name and lane.

Peter Taylor an I pose for National Masters News publisher Amanda Scotti after I presented him Al Sheahen's monogrammed USA Masters windbreaker.

Peter Taylor and I pose for National Masters News publisher Amanda Scotti after I presented him Al Sheahen’s monogrammed USA Masters windbreaker.

Here’s how nationals went for Peter, writing under the title “The Big Meet in Winston-Salem”:

Wednesday, July 16

Took off from Fairfax, Virginia, at 2:49 PM, much later than I had planned. Arrived at the Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center at 8:31, as travel on I-95 was slow. Ate dinner, and asked for a wakeup call of 4:30 AM. That night I realized that I didn’t want to announce the meet, but I was the one chosen to do that, and I wasn’t going to back out. In a word, I was fearful.

Thursday, July 17

Bill Murray saved me by giving me a ride to the stadium. What was the problem? Breakfast at the hotel was at 6:00 AM, and the first shuttle bus to the stadium was scheduled for 6:00, with the next one listed for 7:00.

With the meet starting at 7:30, I would have to take the 6:00 bus to be at the meet at any reasonable time. I found out later from the bus driver that there was no schedule, just a continuous loop of 50 minutes, at least according to him.

Settled in at Kentner Stadium, and I was blessed that day and almost throughout the meet with at least one assistant, sometimes two or even three. Could not have done the meet without them. Thanks to meet director Noel Ruebel and his assistant Eric Braschwitz for their consideration.

Found out early on that the sound in some areas was very poor, almost nonexistent.

Completely discouraging. We talked to someone from Wake Forest but never got relief. Other thing that was bothersome was not getting heat sheets for some races. Oh, well. At one point I was actually asking people in the stands whether they knew certain runners, as without a sheet I was helpless.

July 18, 19, and 20

Covering field events was difficult, for a couple of reasons. Sitting in the press box we were far from the action, and generally we relied on binoculars. Security was quite an issue, it seemed, as when we tried to identify Henry Ellard, the ex-NFL great, when he was down in the triple jump it took almost 30 minutes to do so! We sent someone down to the infield, but apparently he was stopped by someone in a security capacity.

Finally, the volunteer who brought us food took it upon herself to find Henry, and she did.
The group approach did not always work, however, as in the M50, M55 high jump I credited Greg Vidos with an American record for M55 of 1.84 meters. He did clear it, but he’s only 53.

And yet before making this pronouncement I had received absolute assurance that he was trying for an M55 record. Had I been working the meet myself I would have confirmed his age before proclaiming a record.

This was one case where working in a group had a negative outcome.

On the first day I announced some shot put, but after that I don’t think I did any of that event. On the final day, I think it was, my spotters said they couldn’t discern the numbers of the throwers through the fence or screen or whatever they had to look through. Did not announce the other throws at all, as they were somewhere else.

Looking back.

We had a lot of spectacular track races, and they were marvelous indeed. The single most amazing performance for me was watching Irene Obera scorch the 100 meters while imitating a W35 competitor with her knee lift and drive. Irene ran 16.81; the listed world record is 18.42. What?

Overall I had a very poor meet, partly my fault. I was so bothered by the inadequate sound that I changed my announcing style, uncertain whether people could hear me adequately.

When I announced in a natural voice I did fine, but (a) I didn’t trust that voice as being loud enough, or (b) could not always find that voice. I also suffered from “tired voice.”

Fatigue may have been an issue, as I had a 4:30 wakeup each day and just did not have high energy. Inadequate coverage of the throws and jumps was an issue, but here we relied almost entirely on spotters.

At the end I was very glad to get out of Winston-Salem, as I had done so poorly. But that’s me; how did the competitors feel about the meet? What were their experiences? Did they enjoy the meet, the city?

Print Friendly

July 27, 2014

13 Responses

  1. don burkett - July 27, 2014

    Peter, if you had a poor meet, no one other than you noticed it. Your announcing was spot on and timely. I was allover the stadium and field and I never had a problem hearing you. You add so much color to a race / field event with your colorful announcements.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember your schedule was long and exhausting. Kinda like running a marathon 4 days in a row.

    You really made the meet more exciting and we really appreciate your efforts and information on athletes history / performances.

    Thanks for all you do for Masters Track!!!!!

  2. Peter L. Taylor - July 27, 2014

    Just to give a little context here: On July 25, in response to an e-mail from me about getting the views of the competitors in the meet, Ken asked me to give him my own thoughts. This was my brief response as a noncompetitor.

    In all, I announced 254 races, which gives some idea of the burden the announcer carries. Add to that a smattering of field events, many announcements of general interest (checking in, turning in relay entries, admonitions about where you could not warm up, mentions of the 7 primary sponsors, etc.), and you will see that it was a busy 4 days.

  3. Roger Pierce - July 27, 2014

    Peter….we all love you…you make the meet events so much more than they would otherwise be.
    We are so incredibly fortunate to have you with us…without you, it is just a track meet with folks running, jumping and throwing with little knowledge of who, what, why or when. Thanks for all you have done my friend..

  4. Curt Morgan - July 27, 2014

    The meet entry form should add a space for “athlete bio”. Peter, you’d be awash in interesting tid-bits to throw out to the crowd, as people stepped into their starting blocks, started their dash down a runway, or picked up a weight implement. Every single competitor there, has an interesting back story. We have to: we’re 30…60..even 90+ years old!

  5. tb - July 27, 2014

    That’s an excellent idea, but you might have to limit it to a tweet. Everyone at these meets has such interesting stories; where would you start?

  6. Craig Davis - July 27, 2014

    Peter…I also did not compete and I could not attend but if I had one misfortune it would be the videos on line did not pick up your voice. I would have enjoyed watch the USATF.TV videos if your voice was piped in. Maybe for the next event they can include your wonderful commentary. Looking forward to 2015. Craig & Karen Davis. With God’s Speed – Out Run Breast Cancer

  7. Louise Guardino - July 27, 2014

    Peter — I hung out at the far end of the spectator stands (to your left at the time) and I heard you fine. I also heard you while on the track (scary!). I thought that you did a masterful jog, operating essentially non-stop. Only once did I sense a long pause (the Shaheed 1500m) race. You are a perfectionist. I understand your focus on those items that were disconcerting, but don’t let it color your overall impression. Please!
    Thanks for giving us such a great experience.

  8. Ken Stone - July 27, 2014

    On another unsung hero:

    Masters photographer Rob Jerome has posted his latest slide show, this one focusing on N.C. nationals:

    He especially like the high jump, shot and discus — and Flo Meiler. I apologize for not hiking to the long throws venue. But Rob did, so check out his shots!

  9. Herb Stein - July 27, 2014

    Peter, I would just confirm what others are saying. I spent most of the time I was at the meet over on the throws field, but I did spend some time each day watching my fellow Louisianans (and others)on the track. I was at several different spots around the track and had no problem whatsoever hearing you and thought you did your usual top-knotch job, just as you have done at the several other national meets I’ve been to where you announced.

  10. Rob Jerome - July 28, 2014

    Thanks, Ken, for your nice words about my YouTube of photographs from Nationals.

    Peter, I think you did your usual great job. You are the “musical soundtrack” of Masters meets, and it is your professional delivery and enthusiastic tone that far outweigh small slips like not knowing Greg Vidos’s age group.

    And some things were just beyond your control…or the control of any single announcer. Most of the throws were conducted in an ancillary field because the main field was Astroturf. I was told by an official that Wake Forest didn’t even want us to walk on it, let alone throw a javelin into it. There was no way you could have been in two places at once.

    You did a stellar job, especially given the challenges you describe.

  11. Liz Palmer - July 28, 2014

    I can only echo what everyone else has already said in their comments.

  12. Barb Broad - July 28, 2014

    Pete, as your ‘personal’ Speech-Language Therapy ‘Coach’/athlete for the past 3 USATF Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field meets, I’ll say it again: your vocal quality is excellent. As ‘the’ announcer, you go beyond just naming the athletes in a particular event, giving some background history as to their accomplishments, and sharing with the spectators the live-action, moment by moment competition taking place. I observed you for 3 days in the booth – you were truly the ‘Master of Multitasking.’ Hope to see you in March, at Indoors. I’ll bring the throat lozenges again!

  13. Peter L. Taylor - July 29, 2014

    Thanks, Barb; I will take you up on your offer if you and I are both in Winston-Salem next March. I certainly plan on being there. And thanks to Don, Roger, Craig, Louise, Herb, Rob, and Liz as well as you, Barb, for your kind words.

    I was pretty devastated about my performance at the meet, but I probably overreacted. In fact, my disappointment was the number one reason for not going to the party on Saturday evening. Anyway, it’s over now, and I can start thinking of bigger and better things.

Leave a Reply