Sunday night was a bittersweet evening for me. It was the final game of the Wichita Thunder 2016-2017 season. It was also the final game of my career with the Wichita Thunder. After doing music (and even Public Address announcing from time to time) for 20 seasons, I decided to call it quits. It was something I had been debating for about 3 seasons now. I finally decided that now was the time. I will never forget the fun times that I had and all of the great friends and fans of the Thunder I met along the way.
How did it all start? Well, I was beyond excited when they announced that Wichita would have a professional hockey team in the early 90's. I bought tickets for every single game and would go all of the time. The team was brutal most of their first season. But I was still at ever game cheering for them to score, and scrap. Things for the Thunder changed quickly after they changed coaches during their first season. They became the team to beat in the Central Hockey League. The Thunder went on to win the CHL title in their second year.
In 1994, I was approached by the Assistant GM for the Wichita Thunder to see if would be interested in doing the music at the games. It wasn't a paid position, but they were offering me two season tickets for doing it. I thought to myself; "How am I going to use these season tickets if I am working?" Well, I took the offer. I wanted to do it. I loved the games and knew that I could make them even more entertaining. The Thunder went on to win another championship that season. It was awesome. I even received a championship ring for being part of the team. It was a great experience.
I continued to do Thunder games into the early 2000's. I eventually accepted a job in Missouri and moved away. I then had a great job opportunity in Wichita and moved back. Lance Ferguson did a great job with the music during the time I was gone. Lance and the Wichita Thunder asked if I would be interested in doing games again. Lance was getting very busy with storm chasing, weather stuff, family duties and eventually became an off-ice official for the league. I accepted the job and started doing the music again.
Last night was my final time up in the booth doing the music for the Thunder games. I will miss the cast of characters that I worked in the control with upstairs at INTRUST Bank Arena. They have become great friends over the years. I am sure that I will find a way up there to say hello and bug them next season, when I am there as a fan.
I want to thanks Joel Lomurno, Matt Brokaw, Jason Mals, Anthony Benge, Toryn Jones and the entire Thunder staff. I would also like to that the great members of the Thunder staff that used to work for the organization.
BTW. They did start paying me actually money. Their first GM just didn't like spending money on the music man. Just teasing. The added me to their budget.
On another note. The Wichita Thunder are losing a great talent, and a very nice guy. My friend, Mike McQuilliam is dropping the mic after 6 seasons as the Thunder PA Announcer. Look for Mike and I in the stands cheering on the team next season. We will also welcome free beer. :-)