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Voice of Flashes is ready for Lions
Voice of Flashes is ready for Lions
By TONY LANGE
If he's not at a game, he's at a game.
From middle school, to high school, to college, to the professional sports world, Jeff Kurtz, the new athletics coordinator at Orange High School, has 30-plus years of experience at all levels in all sports.
Kurtz joined the Lions Aug. 1 with a three-year contract after serving as the athletic director at Hudson Middle School since 2003. Prior to that, he spent four years as the athletic director at Ravenna City Schools.
As the voice of the Golden Flashes at Kent State University, Kurtz enters his 31st year as a public address announcer, handling nine sports for both men's and women's teams.
At the professional level, Kurtz enters his 11th season as a press-box media announcer for the Cleveland Browns. He also served one year as the PA announcer for the Cleveland Indians.
"It's pretty much all sports, all the time," Kurtz said. "If I'm not at a game, I'm at a game."
After a school levy failed, Kurtz found out his job at Hudson would be eliminated, he said.
"I'm a lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio," he said. "Knowing the history of the Orange School District -- it's an outstanding school district with a great track record of outstanding academics -- that was something that made this job very attractive to me."
Growing up in Brimfield in Portage County, Kurtz played baseball at Field High School and continued his athletic career as a pitcher and first baseman with the Golden Flashes at Kent State.
The most memorable part of his collegiate career was just having the opportunity to play college ball with a great bunch of guys and compete at the Division I level against some outstanding players, Kurtz said.
"The whole experience was a great one," he said. "Probably my most memorable game was one I didn't even play. We played Bowling Green, and Orel Hershiser threw a no-hitter against us. He was one of the premier pitchers in the MAC at that time."
Hershiser went on to a long Major League Baseball career in which he was the 1988 Cy Young Award winner and most valuable player in the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched for the Cleveland Indians for three years in the 1990s.
After earning a bachelor of arts in telecommunications with a minor in journalism, Kurtz pursued a master of arts in athletic administration at Kent.
During that time, he started as a graduate assistant in the sports information office covering volleyball and gymnastics as a PA announcer. After graduating, he was asked to do some public address for women's basketball, and he's been doing that ever since 1981, he said.
In 1984, he started covering the men's basketball team, and after that he also got involved doing the in-box media announcing for the football.
"'First and 10 Flashes' is probably my signature thing, because I kind of belt that out," Kurtz said of his voice. "People recognize me in basketball for saying, 'Timeout Kent State Flashes, Timeout.'"
The most memorable season Kurtz covered without a doubt was the 2002 Kent State men's basketball team that advanced it to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament, he said.
"That group was really why athletics is so cool," he said. "They related to the fans. They were involved as students. It was a fun team to watch day in and day out. You never ever felt like they were in a situation where they couldn't win a ball game. Even in that Indiana game, when IU was unconscious from the three-point line, I kept thinking we were going to find a way to win, and we almost did."
A lot of the time people look at a PA announcer as the meet or game manager, Kurtz said.
"You can play a significant role in making sure things run smoothly, so that absolutely ties directly into a lot of what you have to do as an athletic director," he said.
Kurtz also worked for 17 years at Kent State with the manager conference bureau, during which time he helped set up conference conventions and special events, he said. He also worked for three years as the assistant director of alumni relations, during which time he was the liaison to the athletic department.
All of that helped when he became an athletic director, Kurtz said.
When he started as the athletic director at Ravenna, the district had just built a new football stadium with artificial surface, a new track, new tennis court and a whole athletic complex, he said.
One of the things the superintendent asked him to do was put some people in those facilities by organizing events that would showcase them, Kurtz said.
"We hosted six OHSAA playoff football games," he said. "We had a state semifinal game there one year. We hosted district and regional track meets. We hosted the Greater Akron Coaches Soccer Association senior all-star game for a couple of years."
While at Hudson, Kurtz was named the middle school athletic director of the year by the Northeast Ohio Interscholastic Athletics Administrators Association in 2007.
As a member the National Interscholastic Athletics Administration, Kurtz is a national chairman of a course on public address announcing that he teaches to athletic directors around the country.
From his experience as a PA announcer, Kurtz also serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Sports Public Address Announcers.
With his new position at Orange, Kurtz said his first priority will be dedicated to observing how things are going and finding out what people need and what direction the administration would like to see the athletic department go, he said.
"I think, as the athletic director, I need to do that, and if it's not broke, we're not going to fix it," he said. "But, for right now, it will be just kind of observing and seeing how things are working and trying to do the best we can every day to make sure the kids have an outstanding opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics."
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