Every once in a while, Dave Harding shares his time behind the bench with time behind a microphone.
Harding, a tribal court judge, announces games for Lakeside High School in Plummer and donates his pay back to the student body. He recently announced the district tournament at Lakeland High and sparked several comments from the crowd.
“I’d love to do more of it,” he said. “I do it for the fun of it.”
Harding, a Chippewa from North Dakota, isn’t new to announcing or entertainment. When in high school, he was in a rock band until he graduated in the mid-1960s. A friend encouraged him to attend a broadcasting school. He later started in talk radio for AM stations under the radio name Dave West.
He continued broadcasting while attending junior college in Southern California, and later he hosted an Indian talk show while attending the University of Oregon. His air time shrank as he pursued his law degree, and he became a tribal judge in 1980. But his voice rang out again to the ring of a boxing bell at the Coeur d’Alene Casino.
In 1988 during a professional boxing match at the casino, one of the tribal leaders turned him loose on the microphone.
“It just happened naturally,” Harding said. “They liked it, and the crowd liked it.”
When somebody approached him about announcing for Lakeside High School, he was eager to help the team.
Harding said when he started, he put the pizazz he learned at the professional boxing into the high school sports games. He found most people enjoyed the enthusiasm, and the players liked to hear their names over the loudspeakers as if they were professionals.
While in radio, he often had to say one-liners with plenty of inflection in his voice to make sure the audience heard loud and clear. The same applies to announcing, he said. “You just get into your voice, and when you get started like that, you start blaring it out,” he said.
He started out with football in 1997 and added basketball games a few years later. He said he likes the basketball scene because of how close the teams are and the startup ceremonies, which typically include a pep band and the national anthem.
“I can sit in the middle of the court and see everything,” he said. “You get the best seat in the house.”
In his short time of high school sports announcing, he’s seen a few memorable “barn burners,” where the home team makes a come-from-behind win and the crowd’s adrenaline starts rushing, he said.
Last year, one of Lakeside’s top players made a 3-point shot at the buzzer, and he was just as fired up as the crowd.
“The whole gymnasium went crazy, and I couldn’t let go of the mike,” he said.
With a front-row seat and an edge for the home team, he said it’s challenging to keep things from getting out of hand. He’s since learned to work with the referees and be cautious when using his play-by-play announcing style. The toughest part, he said, is getting past the first 10 minutes and making sure he pronounced all the names right for the starting lineup.
This year was his first year announcing for a district tournament, and he said he enjoyed the experience. He received several comments on his announcing, and some coaches said they felt like they were at college games.
The Plummer-Worley School District also recognized his talents with a letter from the athletic director, George Olsen. Olsen said Harding is able to get the crowd into the game, and it’s important for an announcer to make it happen.
“It’s always good when you do something you enjoy and you find out that somebody else enjoys it too,” Harding said.
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