Tim Terry Relishes His Role With Bulldogs
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Tim Terry relishes his role with Bulldogs
By Richard White
As announced earlier this summer, the radio broadcasts for Greenwood High School football this season are moving to the Fort Smith Radio Group and KOOL 104.7 FM, giving the Bulldogs a stronger signal and a larger paw print in the local media market. Prior to this season, Spirit 106.3 FM had been the home of Greenwood football.
Owned by Bill Pharis, Fort Smith Radio Group was already broadcasting GHS basketball and baseball, and now adds the big prize – GHS football – riding a 38-game winning streak. The move was jointly approved by the Bulldog Foundation and GHS Athletic Director Jerry Cecil, but neither would make the move without bringing along “the voice of the Bulldogs”, play-by-play announcer Tim Terry.
Well into his second decade behind the microphone, Terry is still in love with his job, even if it’s just part-time work. The 39-year-old broadcaster works fulltime at Hickory Springs, a manufacturing company in Fort Smith. His third shift job at Hickory Springs allows him to be available during afternoons and evenings to pursue his real passion – announcing GHS athletics.
Terry, a 1992 GHS graduate, is married to Amanda, a Van Buren native, and together they have three children, Tessa, Harley, and Joshua. His stepdaughter Tessa plays junior high basketball at Greenwood and will also be on the softball team next spring.
After graduating high school, Terry attended Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and played on the golf team, graduating in 1998. “I wanted to play golf professionally,” he said, and he even worked for a time as a groundskeeper for Vache Grasse Country Club in Greenwood and competed in the Fort Smith Classic. He later went to work for Whirlpool in Fort Smith and remained there for 12 years, before going to Hickory Springs.
About the same time he made the move to Whirlpool, Terry began his second career as an announcer for GHS sports, something that occurred almost by accident.
In college, a buddy of mine was in journalism, and they needed someone to do radio for women’s basketball on road games, so he said, ‘Let’s go.’ So we loaded up and [went]. I was the color man. It was almost a joke, but we had a good time. And then in 1999 Jeff Weaver was the radio guy for Greenwood, and he got a job at the school as a teacher and coach. I guess he told someone that I had done a little radio in college, and I was crazy enough to probably do it. So I got a phone call [from the booster club] and was asked if I wanted to do it, and I said “sure.”
Former player and current GHS teacher Aaron Gamble served as Terry’s first sidekick, doing the color work on the broadcasts. “So we took off in 1999 with Coach [Ronnie] Peacock, and that was the start of it.” Terry agreed that he owes his broadcasting career to being in the right place at the right time. “I was fortunate to be there,” he said.
Asked about the learning curve as a novice announcer, he said, “Obviously, I’m a sports guy and I’ve watched football and played every sport my whole life, but I’ve always liked radio. Paul Ells was just the king. I loved him, and I still tear up today when I hear some of his stuff. It’s crazy. My wife doesn’t understand why. Growing up I always talked to the TV screen as we watched games, and it just came kind of natural. Mostly, setting up the equipment is the hardest part. But I’m a fan, and I’m just doing what everybody else is doing in the bleachers. I’m just talking about the game. I try to let people know what’s going on, and try to set up the scene and the play and the formations. Learning the names is [hard].”
Terry also admits with pride that he’s been called a “homer” on numerous occasions by people from other towns. “I think that’s one of the things [Greenwood] people enjoy about our broadcasts. I get paid by Greenwood. I work for Greenwood people. I’m from Greenwood. I’ve done other games, but when I do Greenwood games, I’m for Greenwood. Whenever something good happens, I get excited. We have a lot of fun up there. That’s borderline unprofessional, but I don’t really care.”
On the football broadcasts, Terry works with color man Kevin Jones and sideline reporter Darrel Wheeler, both GHS graduates from the early 1980s. “We’ve had a great time,” said Terry. “The road trips are fun – I get to hear a lot of stories about Greenwood athletics from the 70s and 80s – and we all three play golf. It’s been a lot of fun.” (Note: Darrel Wheeler is recovering well from a recent stroke and is expected to return to his sideline duties this season. He is also the father of GHS reserve quarterback Reid Wheeler, who will likely replace injured senior starting QB Jabe Burgess).
Terry is starting his 15th season broadcasting football, and has done three seasons of basketball and baseball. “I enjoy all of them,” he said. “All of them are great. I’ve been a part of all seven football championships, and two baseball title games, and the two girls basketball titles. So I’ve seen my share of state championship games, and nine titles. So it’s been fun.” Terry continued to reminisce about other highlights of his career, particularly in football, including the 2005 semi-finals victory at Wynne and the 2006 state title game against Pulaski Academy.
Asked which of the sports was hardest to broadcast, Terry said, “Basketball is the hardest for sure, because the ball [moves] so quick. Sometimes you just have to skip a pass. The pace is quicker now with [teams] running the floor a little more, so I’ve learned to just stay on the ball. In baseball, you have to come up with a lot of filler stuff. Luckily, Coach [Randy] Gardner is great and gives me a ton of stats. Obviously in football, having a color man, hopefully he’ll come in and say something. Jonathan Gipson helps me some on basketball on home games, and he’s great.” Gipson is another GHS grad who also serves as the sports information director at UA-Fort Smith and teaches a journalism class at Greenwood High School.
Terry has also seen the growth and success of GHS athletics over the past 15 to 20 years. “I think numbers make the difference in football,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate that a lot of folks have moved into Greenwood. Coaching makes a huge of difference, obviously, and the community buys into it. It’s not like we’re recruiting people, but there’s been a few kids who have moved here just to play football, and that’s fine. The program recruits itself. But I think numbers rule as far as enrollment, and then you’ve got to tip your hat to athletic directors and the school board for hiring quality head coaches and assistants.
“The off-season program [FASDOGS] that Coach Jones does is second to none. The Pitbull program has made a big difference. It can’t be a coincidence that when that thing started – when Coach Peacock was here – that it’s just literally snowballed. These kids are learning in the third grade how to hold a football, and how to wrap up and tackle, and they stay with it.”
Terry also has another part-time job as a city alderman for Greenwood, a position he has held for seven years, now into his third term in office. He agrees that the school system and GHS athletics are major factors for families looking to move into the area.
Besides Paul Ells, other broadcast heroes for Terry include the late Jack Buck, the legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster for St. Louis Cardinals baseball, and football announcers Pat Summerall, John Madden, and Brad Sham, who does Dallas Cowboys football on the radio.
So as the Bulldogs prepare for the upcoming football season, the radio broadcasts appear to be in good hands, with the combination of Tim Terry and the Fort Smith Radio Group. “We’ve got everything streamlined and it’s going to work out fine,” said Terry of the new arrangement. “Bill [Pharis] is nervous about it, because things have been going so well, he doesn’t want to screw things up. So let’s get ready for another [season]. It’s been 38 in a row, and we’ve got to keep the ball rolling.”