YSU game announcer Kelly strives for accuracy
By Greg Gulas
Jeff Kelly spent four decades bringing music, news, sports and weather to Mahoning Valley radio listeners.
Kelly has made a smooth transition to marketing and advertising director for Flynn Auto Group, a post that still keeps him in contact with the public albeit during a more traditional work day.
If you’ve had the opportunity to take in a Youngstown State University football or basketball game, it’s Kelly’s voice who announces the ball carrier, the tackler or who scored a bucket.
A fixture in the Stambaugh Stadium press box and at Dom Rosselli Court since 1992, Kelly told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center that he has enjoyed being part of its game day operation.
“My goal during a game is to be accurate in what a player does, correctly pronouncing their name both clearly and accurately, and to deliver announcements by sponsors who spend good money to help support the Penguins’ athletic programs,” Kelly said. “Nothing to me is more important than to announce a name correctly, even those players from the visiting team.
“It means a lot to the player and their family when you say it right,” Kelly said. “It’s like the old days and how good you felt when you saw your name in the newspaper boxscore.
“That’s not to say I’ve always gotten it right because I have on occasion called Hunter Wells ‘Hunter Webb’ and Jody Webb, whom I’ve called ‘Jody Wells.’”
As public address announcer, Kelly’s goal is to just blend in with the game.
“I look at my involvement much like I do a referee’s where you really don’t want to be noticed,” Kelly said. “If so, then it’s probably negative.
“I’m not doing play-by-play, I simply give fans the information they need as they watch the game,” Kelly said. “YSU has a traditional presentation for their sporting events and that includes me in my role. I show more excitement for YSU than the opposing team.”
Stambaugh Stadium and Beeghly Center each have undergone facelifts since Kelly’s tenure began.
“I have the best seat in the house and while there are plenty of good seats available for football or basketball games, I like being right in the middle of all the action,” Kelly said. “For football, we once had a temporary plywood structure and my location moved from the large press box to the scoreboard room, located between the main press box and YSU coaches’ box,” Kelly said. “A coaching booth can get quite lively and once while working out of that temporary structure, we thought one of the coaches was coming through the plywood after a not-so-popular call made by the officials.”
Nerves aren’t part of his job description, but certain games and teams do get his adrenalin flowing.
“I don’t get nervous behind the microphone, but three games stand out over the years that made me extra pumped,” Kelly said. “In women’s basketball, it was our 1993 game with Pat Summit and her Tennessee Volunteers that was played at Beeghly Center.
“In football, it was our playoff game against Steve ‘Air’ McNair and Alcorn State,” Kelly said of the 1994 game.
His men’s basketball pick “came in 2010 when we defeated Butler, which turned out being their last loss until the national championship game.”