Special to In Motion
Public Address announcers keep tabs on who scores, player substitutions or if a team calls for a timeout. While many know the voice behind the microphone, few would recognize the face.
Meet Jeff Ford, PA announcer for Daytona State College’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Ford’s love for the job began in elementary school when he started following the University of Louisville basketball games. He was inspired by their PA announcer, John Tong, and began to impersonate his style.
Years later, while Ford was working for an NBC television station in Louisville, he joined his company’s basketball team. The team traveled to various schools and played their faculties for charity.
During a game in Indiana, a report came through that the PA announcer could not make it to the game. Knowing what was at stake, Ford lunged at the opportunity.
“It went really well, but at the end of the game, there were a couple people who came down to the scorers’ table and looked at me and said, ‘Excuse me but are you John Tong?’,” said Ford, recalling just how much he emulated his longtime hero.
One game led to another and Ford became the full-time PA announcer for his station’s team in Louisville. Eventually Ford moved on from that station, which meant the end of the road for his dream announcing job… or so he thought.
He then began working at a station in Nashville until he burned out in 2010 and resigned. Two years passed until his daughter, Holly, suggested he make a Facebook page. Ford complied and found his long-lost childhood sweetheart and future wife, Crystal.
The history behind the relationship goes back to 1975 when 16-year-old Ford was on his annual family vacation from Louisville to Holly Hill at the Holiday Inn. He met 13-year-old Crystal at the pool and they began to dive for pennies.
“I like to embellish the story by saying she was pool hopping. She actually had a sister, who was working at this hotel,” Ford said.
The two went on adventures to the movies, McDonald’s and the like for the remainder of Ford’s vacation. Despite their blossoming relationship, he went on to marry Pam in 1981, whom he met during freshman orientation at the University of Louisville in 1977. In the ‘80s, they started their own family tradition of coming to Daytona every year for vacation.
During a trip to Daytona in 1983 Ford surprisingly noticed a familiar face.
“Pam and I were having lunch at a KFC in Ormond Beach and, lo and behold, I see Crystal walk in with her husband and I nearly choked on a chicken bone!,” Ford said, laughing.
After 1983 Ford lost contact with Crystal, but regained it after he made his Facebook page. Crystal actually had the same idea as Ford. He and Pam had been divorced and Crystal was looking for a new start, so they were thrilled to have resumed contact.
This reconnection prompted Ford to return to Daytona to visit Crystal.
“I had been looking for him as well. I was excited to see him again,” Mrs. Ford recalled.
Eventually Ford moved down in 2013 and the two married on Feb. 7, 2014. The new location also provided Ford with the opportunity to resume his dream of PA announcing.
At the end of October 2016, Ford received a call from his friend Luke Morrow, radio commentator for the Daytona Tortugas. Morrow made Ford aware that DSC was looking for a PA announcer for their basketball program and asked if he could give Jeff’s name and number to Cody White, the Athletic Event Specialist for DSC.
White contacted Ford a few days later to speak with him about the current job opening. He agreed to meet with White and within 15 minutes of the meeting the two came to an agreement that Ford would be the new PA announcer for DSC basketball.
“I gave him the script, he came, did it and knocked it out of the park. It’s nice to have somebody who enjoys doing that,” said White.
The job has its rough patches. As Ford noted, basketball is a fast-paced game that is difficult to keep up with and occasionally he has gotten behind on the foul counts. But it also had its bright moments. He is always excited to announce the explosive plays made by DSC’s teams, such as 3-point shots or dunks.
“He did excellent. He sounded great. I was super excited to be able to find him. It was a godsend, it was a blessing,” White said of Ford’s first season of announcing.
Ford may not know what the future holds for his career, but he recognizes the opportunity that has been offered to him.
“They gave me the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m so grateful for that. I have fun doing it,” Ford said.
The 2017-18 basketball season will launch in November. Visit http://www.dscfalcons.com for information.