Sommerfeld gives us a look at what goes on "Behind the Mic"

CROOKSTON, Minn.- Testing one, two, three, testing…has been a phrase of mine for the past four years working as a public address sports announcer.

    For those who don’t know me or haven’t heard my voice over a speaker system, I’m Austin Sommerfeld or as Scott Leckie (Accounting Assistant Professor at UMC) calls me “the voice”. I grew up in Crookston, Minn., where I learned small town values, met my best friends, and most importantly I participated in Pirate athletics. I had my fair share of sports in Crookston playing soccer, golf, baseball, basketball, and football, but at the high school level, I continued with basketball and football.

    When I graduated in 2015, I realized my sports career would come to an end. At that time I most likely apologized to my 2006 self who said he wanted to play in the National Football League. Not all dreams were made to come true, but one that did was to be a public address sports announcer. I always remember watching sports on the television and listening to the starting lineups because that was my favorite part. Listening to the announcer’s voice, the way they drew in a crowd, and how they brought that energy to the arena. I always think of ring announcer Michael Buffer’s famous line "let's get ready to rumble" that always gets a crowd going.

    I look back to the conversation I had with Head Basketball Coach Greg Garmen when I asked him if I could possibly announce for the Pirates, he then reconnected with me and offered me the position. I took this as a part-time job, while also working another part-time job and attending Northland Technical Community College in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

    My first game at the high school was a boys’ basketball game. I wasn’t nervous, mostly excited until Kevin Weber informed me it was “Parents Night”. I had to quickly learn all of the parents and players names and most likely messed up a few times. Overall, I must have done an alright job that night because Garmen told me he would see me next week when the girls play. Ever since I have been announcing volleyball and basketball for the Crookston Pirates. I not only have enjoyed announcing for my hometown team, but watching the competitive athletes at the high school level. I won’t lie, I will miss birthday announcements and pumping up the audience with my music selection.

    In 2017, I decided to transfer to the University of Minnesota Crookston that is when Kamille (Wahlin) Meyer had heard from Garmen that I was attending the campus and they were in need of a sports announcer. I took this opportunity and in the fall, I started to announce for the Golden Eagles. Throughout my two years at UMC I have been the voice for Golden Eagle soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball, and baseball. There have been a ton of excellent athletes who I have gotten to watch grow and contend. I have enjoyed getting a front row seat while cheering on the variety of student-athletes that have competed. There have been multiple times where I had to remind myself that I am not a fan, so I cannot yell and scream, which is harder than you think.

    Another benefit of being present at these games was to cheer on one of my best friends Aaron Hollcraft, who I grew up with playing sports with and we graduated together. To me, it was an indescribable feeling to announce his name on the court in basketball and on the mound for baseball.

    When I wasn’t announcing games at UMC, I was still finding a way to work in the sports atmosphere. I helped with in-game promotions at the football field to recording live stream for equestrian shows. My internship this spring semester in the athletic department has truly added to my experience. I had the chance to work with graphics, record videos, manage social media accounts, write sports previews, and update website content. I would like to thank my supervisor Shawn Smith for allowing me to work alongside him.

    As I walked across the stage to earn my Bachelor of Science in Communication, I thought of all the great memories I have had in this town. I thought of the people who have helped shape me into the person I am today. I am thankful for all of the opportunities that I was given and would like to personally thank Crookston High School, University of Minnesota Crookston, and the community of Crookston. I don’t know entirely what my future holds, but I will most likely find my voice to a microphone again.