Article by Patty Hutchens | Photos by Jason Duchow Photography
Article recreated with permission of "Sandpoint LIVING Local" Magazine!
When the announcer for the Sandpoint High School football games moved out of town, Ron Hanson agreed to take over the duties at Barlow Stadium for the remainder of the season. That was 1978. Having just completed his 35th season as the voice behind the microphone for home football games at Barlow stadium, Hanson has enjoyed the ride and does not plan on leaving any time soon.
A 1967 graduate of Sandpoint High School, Hanson has followed Sandpoint football for decades and recalls many fond memories of athletes and coaches of days gone by.
Among the more animated and inspiring coaches is Chris Lassen, who returned to the coaching staff last year as an assistant coach with Satini Puailoa. Crosby Tajan, who played at Sandpoint High School while Hanson announced the games, is currently the offensive coach for the Bulldogs and is another whom Hanson has enjoyed watching through the years.
The return of Coach Satini Puailoa is one that Hanson and many others welcomed. “The first go around for Satini was a bright spot in Sandpoint football history,” said Hanson. “It brought the program back to the glory days of Cotton Barlow, and was a much needed shot in the arm for the program.”
One of Hanson’s more vivid memories is a number of years ago when Coeur d’Alene came to Sandpoint and the players on Coeur d’Alene were substantially bigger than those on the Sandpoint Bulldogs.
“I could tell our kids were intimidated so I took it upon myself to shrink the size of the Coeur d’Alene players,” said Hanson who announced the opposing players’ weight as much less than they actually were. While the home crowd caught on to what he was doing and cheered, the response from Sandpoint’s Athletic Director Duane Ward was less than enthusiastic. “He let me know in no uncertain terms that it was not okay,” said Hanson.
What Ward told Hanson in that short conversation has actually remained with him throughout the years and is a constant reminder of his role as announcer of the games. “He told me I was doing this for the kids and that I was not announcing only for Sandpoint but also for the visiting team,” said Hanson who adds that as a lifetime resident of Sandpoint, he is naturally biased towards the home team.
Bulldog fans look forward to Hanson’s enthusiastic voice shouting “How about those Bulldogs!!” after each touchdown for the home team. He said it one time and the reaction of the crowd was overwhelming so he has continued to do it each time the home team scores. It has become his signature line. “I always wonder before each game how many times I will have the opportunity to say it,” said Hanson. He recalls one time when the Bulldogs were beating Coeur d’Alene and at one point when he made his post-touchdown announcement, the Coeur d’Alene coach sitting in the booth next to Hanson tried to reach over and grab the microphone.
While Hanson’s announcing does help energize the crowd, he said the Bulldog fans are already very excitable and adds that getting the crowd to its feet is something he leaves up to the cheerleaders.
Many fans will recall a game last season when the penalties called were continually against the home team Bulldogs who were losing by a large margin. Amazed at the number of penalties, Hanson announced that there was yet another penalty against “you know who.” It was not something the referees found amusing. The referee borrowed Coach Puailoa’s headset and chastised Hanson for the remark. “It was a little unnerving to be chewed out in front of your own hometown,” said Hanson.
Hanson has worked as a realtor for the last 13 years. Prior to that he was the business manager at the CEDU schools in Bonners Ferry and also owned a Television and Home Electronics store in downtown Sandpoint. As time would allow he and his colleague in the announcer’s booth, Dwight Sheffler, attended many of the away games, but do not do so as much anymore. They were not able to attend the game where the Bulldogs won the State Championship but that did not deter the two from celebrating. “We listened to the game on the radio, and when they won we went to the stadium and rang the victory bell,” said Hanson.
Hanson’s position is strictly volunteer but humbly he says he is one of many and is eager to recognize all those who contribute their time in support of youth athletics. He recalls Bill Fournier who passed away in late 2011 and who for 51 years was a member of the honor guard at each of the home football games. Hanson said Bob Johnson is a current member of the honor guard and has also taken part in the home games for over 50 years; Dwight Sheffler has been a spotter in the booth with Hanson for the last 30 years; and Nancy Miller has worked the ticket booth for over 30 years. And then there is the man who has made sure that Hanson does not go hungry each game–Chuck Schoonover who has been a volunteer for a number of years cooking hamburgers and delivering one to Hanson during every home game. “They are the behind the scenes people who go unnoticed,” said Hanson.
Ron Hanson looks forward to what the upcoming seasons hold for the Sandpoint Bulldogs and hopes to continue enthusiastically announcing “How about those Bulldogs!” for many years to come.
“I feel fortunate to be able to participate for as long as I have,” said Hanson. “I still get butterflies before each game.” Ron Hanson REALTOR® for CENTURY 21 RiverStone - Sandpoint, Idaho