Long-time announcer, ‘assistant’ presented Tiger Legend award

Published 4:38 pm Friday, October 10, 2014

Rick (left) and Sheri (right) McKee were presented the Tiger Legend award by Chilton County High School Gridiron Club President Chris Smith.

Rick (left) and Sheri (right) McKee were presented the Tiger Legend award by Chilton County High School Gridiron Club President Chris Smith.

Rick McKee remembers how he first came to serve as the public address announcer at a Chilton County High School varsity football game.

McKee was a first-year teacher at the school, in 1973, when Ray Scruggs, the already well-established principal, told McKee that someone was needed to work in the press box.

“I said, ‘Yes, sir,'” McKee laughs.

At the football banquet at the end of the season, Scruggs joked that McKee had signed a 37-year contract. The number must have been chosen at random, but, coincidentally, McKee retired after exactly 37 years in Chilton County education.

He continued serving as the PA announcer for four more years, giving him 41 years as the voice fans at the game knew well. Not long into his tenure, McKee was joined in the booth by his wife, Sheri.

As the official “assistant,” Sheri provided drinks and snacks for her husband and everyone else in the booth, and helped take note of the players’ numbers so Rick could say the correct name of the player who just made a tackle, caught a pass or whatever other action there was to be called.

She also often had to pull Rick away from halftime conversations and back to his post.

The McKees were recognized for their contributions to the football program as this year’s recipients of the Tiger Legend Award, which the CCHS Gridiron Club presents annually.

“We look around as a group at those who have given to the organization, to the athletic program in general,” said Chris Smith, Gridiron Club president. “It was a perfect fit. It just shows our appreciation for what they’ve done.”

Smith said he was honored to be able to present the award to the McKees, whom he knows well. Rick McKee was an English teacher for Smith, and Sheri McKee was SGA sponsor when Smith graduated from CCHS in 1985.

This year marks the fifth time the award has been presented. Previous recipients include: Lally Bates in 2010, Don Hand in 2011, Ray Scruggs in 2012 and Mickey Bates in 2013.

The McKees were presented a plaque at halftime of last week’s Homecoming game against Valley. The award also comes with two seats in the reserved section at Tiger Stadium.

“It was very nice,” Rick McKee said. “It was an honor.”

Those seats will present a vantage point different from what the McKees are used to.

“It was like a family up there for many years,” Sheri McKee said about the people in the press box, including the film crew, radio broadcasters, clock operators and others. “There’s so many folks who love the school who will do stuff like that.”

The current press box is the third one Rick McKee operated from. His first post, on the opposite side of the field, was little more than a folding chair on a roof.

Cory Traywick, a teacher at Clanton Intermediate School, has taken over public address duties at the football games this season. Traywick brings experience as a basketball announcer.

He’ll understand if it takes fans a little while to adjust to the change. Some of them have never heard anyone else announce at a Chilton County High School football game.

The McKees, never taking themselves too seriously, said they knew it was time to let go of the responsibility.

“We got to the point where we were saying, ‘Is that an 86 or an 87?'” Sheri McKee said. “That’s when we knew. This needs a younger pair of eyes.”