Know Your Madisonian: Matthew Gray

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Posted by Frank the Tank on February 27, 2010 at 16:59:30:

Courtesy of the Wisconsin State Journal--

Know Your Madisonian: Matthew Gray, voice of state wrestling tourney

Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2010 2:20 pm

For 13 years, Matthew Gray, 52, has been the voice of the WIAA state wrestling tournament, held at the Kohl Center through Saturday. He calls high school athletes to the mat for competition and announces their results, and he revels in the high spirit of the events.

Gray, a special education teacher at Jefferson Middle School in Madison, also handles public announcing for the state high school football and swimming tournaments, as well as basketball games for Memorial High School.

How did you get hired?

I started announcing at Memorial High School. Then there was an opening for the wrestling tournament. After that came football, then swimming.

Do you have to be a good athlete to do the announcing?

I think you have to have some familiarity with the sports. I am a big sports fan. I love being around high school athletics. Thereís nothing better. Itís athletics in its purest form. They arenít paid. They work hard at it. I think wrestlers are the best-conditioned athletes there are.

Whatís special about wrestling?

The fans know every wrestler, they know their records. There are families of wrestlers that have gone through year after year. Itís a closer knit athletic community than some of the other sports. And I think in some sports thereís a little too much emphasis on kids being recruited to colleges. I think wrestling is different that way. Itís not a big money-making sport at the college level. The recruiting doesnít seem as intense as basketball or football. And what other sport is a 103-pound teenager going to do? Wrestling has a niche for all kids, of all different sizes. Itís really a very unique sport that way. If I wasnít here as an announcer, I would be here as a paying spectator.

Whatís your biggest fear when youíre announcing the tournament?

Mispronouncing names. Itís kind of a pet peeve of mine. With so many wrestlers, I try to do the best I can. Every kid wants their name announced correctly. I ask people to come down and correct me if Iím wrong.

Whatís your favorite moment at the tournament?

The march of champions on Saturday night. The lights are off, and itís all staged. They have a march in procession for all the championship wrestlers for the three divisions. Itís very dramatic. I get goose bumps every time. Itís probably the biggest moment of their life -- so far.

Whatís your role?

Iím kind of the tempo of the meets. I keep things going and calling people out, letting kids know where they have to be.

Do you have kids that have played in the tournament?

No, no kids. But I am engaged -- and sheís a sports enthusiast.

ó Interview by Patricia Simms

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